PROVO – Despite rallying late, BYU came up short in its home opener against UCLA Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium, falling 17-14.
The Cougars (1-2) scored all 14 points in the second half, but were still playing catch-up as time expired. The Bruins (2-1) nabbed BYU in a close game for the second year in a row.
Jamaal Williams and Nick Kurtz both scored their first touchdowns of the season for the Cougars. In addition to finding the end zone, Kurtz wound up with 83 receiving yards on eight receptions. Butch Pau’u tied the BYU record (since 2000) for tackles in a single game with 19.
BYU also picked up its longest pass play earlier in the first quarter with a 39-yard pass completion from Taysom Hill to Williams. Hill finished the game completing 26 of 48 passes for 250 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Also of note was Fred Warner’s first interception of the season. He picked off UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen at the UCLA 33-yard line, jumping a Bruin receiver’s route.
Both teams were held scoreless in the first quarter, but UCLA had the ball on the BYU 32-yard line as time ran out. The Bruins connected on a six-yard touchdown pass from Rosen to fullback Cameron Griffin early in the second quarter and made the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
A UCLA interception halfway through the second quarter led to a Bruin field goal. With 6:57 left in the half, UCLA led 10-0.
No points were scored by either team for the remainder of the half as the Cougars headed to the locker room down by 10.
The Bruins opened the second half scoring with 7:24 remaining in the third quarter. Rosen completed a 33-yard touchdown pass to Darren Andrews, who did most of the work after the catch to cushion UCLA’s lead. A successful PAT attempt put the Bruins up 17-0.
BYU responded with a touchdown on the subsequent drive. The Cougars used 10 plays for 75 yards to get into the end zone, with Williams punctuating the drive with a 1-yard carry for his first touchdown of the year. After Rhett Almond’s PAT, BYU trailed 17-7 with 3:07 left in the third quarter.
A minute and a half into the fourth quarter, the Bruins put themselves in position for a field goal. The 38-yard attempt missed wide right to turn the ball over to the Cougars.
After BYU punted with 7:34 left in the game, the UCLA offense ate up more than five minutes before punting back to the Cougars.
Hill and BYU used a series of passes to move down the field and score a touchdown with 37 seconds left on the clock. The nine-play, 91-yard scoring drive finished with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Nick Kurtz. Another successful PAT cut the Bruins’ lead to 17-14.
The Cougars were unable to recover an onside kick and UCLA melted the rest of the clock to secure the win.
BYU plays next Saturday against West Virginia at FedEx Field in Greater Landover, Md. That neutral-site contest will start at 3:30 p.m. EDT. ESPN2 or ESPNU will televise the game, and a radio broadcast will be available on the Cougar IMG Network.
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