UH narrowly loses to BYU in thriller

Junior receiver Daniel Spencer scored a touchdown and recorded 186 yards in the loss. |  Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

Junior receiver Daniel Spencer scored a touchdown and recorded 186 yards in the loss. | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

Despite the surrounding hoopla that was embedded into Homecoming Week, the highly anticipated football game lived up to its national television platform.

The announcement of the Homecoming king and queen and the recognition of former UH cornerback D.J. Hayden and legendary basketball coach Guy V. Lewis did not overshadow a monumental finish as UH came up just short 47-46 to BYU on Saturday at Reliant Stadium.

Fans from both teams got what they expected, but someone had to lose. For UH fans, their team was the one that drew the short end of the stick.

“I told them this is exactly how the game was going to be, and the second half was no different. There are no moral victories,” said head coach Tony Levine.  “A loss is a loss. I give BYU credit. They made enough plays to win the football game … That’s a tough locker room right now.”

The game was decided on UH’s final possession when freshman quarterback John O’ Korn’s pass was intercepted on the first play of the final drive. After a first down, BYU was able to take a knee and secure a wild victory that took more than four hours.

BYU’s sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill — who amassed 545 total yards — found senior receiver Cody Hoffman for an 11-yard touchdown strike in the far left corner of the end zone to take the lead for good with 1:08 remaining in the fourth quarter.

On a previous drive, O’Korn found sophomore receiver Deontay Greenberry for a 10-yard touchdown with 5:20 remaining in the fourth quarter to take a 47-41.

Junior linebacker Derrick Mathews had one of his best games. He had 13 tackles, which included three sacks, an interception and a safety.

“(The interception) kind of surprised me. I was in a perfect position and I just took advantage of it. We made adjustments, calmed down and played how we were supposed to play,” Mathews said.

UH was outmatched in the stat sheet in the first half, as it accumulated only 245 yards of offense compared to BYU’s 456 but still led 38-34.

O’ Korn struggled in the beginning on his way to throwing 363 yards and three touchdowns.

“Did (O’Korn) play perfect? No. I’ve said it every week he’s never going to, but he’ll learn from his mistakes, and I’ve seen improvement from that young man every week,” Levine said.

Not only was he intercepted on his final pass attempt, but also on his first pass attempt. His interception on the first play from scrimmage enabled BYU to take advantage and score a 15-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore running back Jamaal Williams to put BYU with just a minute erased from the game.

High-octane offenses

Down 17-7, UH’s freshman quarterback Greg Ward Jr. was able to find senior receiver Xavier Maxwell for a 69-yard touchdown to cut the lead to three. Maxwell won a jump ball against his defender and walked in for the easy score.

On BYU’s ensuing possession, UH took its first lead of the game when Mathews intercepted a pass and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown, which  gave his team a 21-17 lead with 5:57 remaining in the first quarter.

Then it turned into a back-and-forth game, as both offenses were hitting on all cylinders.

Hill fired an 18-yard strike to junior receiver Ross Apo in the far left corner of the end zone to go up 24-21.

After a UH field goal, O’ Korn was able to throw his first touchdown pass of the afternoon with a six-yard, leaping touchdown to Greenberry to take a 31-24 lead.

After BYU scored on a one-yard touchdown rush, the UH offense kept its motor running when O’ Korn found junior receiver Daniel Spencer, who  cut across the field after nearly falling and followed his blocks on his way to a 41-yard touchdown.

Senior cornerback Thomas Bates picked off two passes: one in BYU’s end zone that prevented a touchdown and the other in the third quarter.

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  • Great Game.. Truth be told, that Pass interference when the player clearly tripped hurt UH.. bad call and it gave BYU momentum.

    • No kidding. That has to be one of the worst calls of the season, at any level of play, in any sport. Absolutely zero contact, the player trips and falls, and we get called for PI instead of getting the ball back. What a terrible call.

      • How about the call where BYU defender clearly intercepted the ball and the officials said that he did not have control of the ball but he clearly did. The whole game there were bad calls. I was not impressed by the officials at all were they from the PAC-12?

    • On the other hand, Maxwell clearly pushed off the defender (two hands to the chest) on the first quarter touchdown. The defender was left sitting on his backside while Maxwell was left all alone for the easy walk-in touchdown.

  • Okorn still needs a lot more development. Perhaps we need to see if Cosh is ready to play. The way this defense is playing, the team deserves a better QB. Okorn is lacking in decision making and accuracy. Ward does not look like a college QB to me, but perhaps he deserves more playing time.

    OKorn has a ton of potential, but his performance is overrated. The team is carrying him. Let Cosh get some time if he is ready. And Ward’s stats make him deserving of more snaps.

    Anyway, the front 7 on the defense is better than we have had in a long long time. Matthews, Bowser, Singleton, Oliphant….we have some real studs on the Defense.

    Let’s get the offense up to snuff.

    I don’t know if Ambles deserves more playing time. He cannot catch with his hands. But he can get open!

    More discussion of these issues on the Coog-It football forum!

      • Where the heck have you been dude!!! Is this the first game you have watched, im convinced…since it was homecoming that you are just now paying attention. O’korn is the QB of this team.. he made mistakes, as any true freshman QB has.. BYU QB made just as many mistakes… the last interception that O’korn threw was on coaching. As a coach, you tell your young freshman to throw sideline passes, over the safety only.. he’s going to get better. Great game, smash rutgers….

  • it was a good game, in my opinion it is not that the players have or not skills, all of them have it that’s why they are here, they just need to stop the EGOs, yeah the egos I saw a couple of plays when they had the chance to pass the ball and they didn’t pass it because they are trying to be the hero, friendly reminder that is a team game.

  • Close and heartbreaking loss. Great effort from players and coaching staff though. Let’s beat Rutgers. GO COOGS!!!

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