HOUSTON -- Coach Bronco Mendenhall stood in front of reporters exhausted. After leading BYU to a thrilling 47-46 comeback win over Houston, the nine-year head coach looked as if he had been put through the ringer.
"We haven't been in one like that in a while, or maybe ever," he said. "We were kind of dazed a little bit of what's going on by the wildness of the game. It's fun -- well, it's fun now -- not when it's going on."
Trailing 46-41 and facing second-and-1 from the 11 yard line, Taysom Hill found Skyler Ridley for the go-ahead strike. While known for his running ability, BYU's signal caller Hill's arm was the difference.
BYU (5-2) set the school record for plays with 115 plays and Hill finished 29 for 44 for 417 yards passing and four touchdowns to go with 194 yards rushing.
"Just lucky he came to BYU," Mendenhall said of Hill. "It's fun to see him have success. He's not perfect and our team's not perfect. It's fun to see him be here and really want to do well."
Hill's heroics came at Houston's expense.
Houston (5-1) clawed back from a slow start and looked to be in position to stay among the ranks of the unbeaten. For Houston any positives are outweighed by the outcome.
"There are no moral victories," Levine said. "A loss is a loss. We knew it would be a great game going into it. Two great football teams going toe-to-toe.
"They made enough plays to win the football game," Levine continued. "That's a tough locker room right now."
The offensive slugfest produced 1,164 yards and 93 total points. Houston scored via the big play while six of BYU's eight scoring drives went for 70 yards or longer.
The offensive explosion of the first half made way for a defensive battle as the teams combined for just nine points in the second half.
Derrick Mathews notched back-to-back sacks, including a safety for the only points of the third quarter to give Houston a 40-34 lead. It was the first safety by Houston since 1993.
Hill rekindled his first half rhythm hitting Cody Hoffman for a 25-yard touchdown pass to give BYU a 41-40 lead. Hoffman's touchdown was the 30th of his career, tying him for the school record.
Houston looked poised to respond immediately as O'Korn hit a 76-yard pass to Spencer to set up 1st-and-goal from the 4. After two failed attempts and a sack, Richard Leone missed a 40-yard field goal. The miss was his second of the game and costly for Houston.
In the end, Hill and BYU struck last to claim the road win.
BYU got off to a quick start when Spencer Hadley intercepted O'Korn on the first play of the game. Three plays later Jamaal Williams ran in a 15-yard touchdown to give BYU a 7-0 lead.
The hometown Cougars followed BYU's first 10 points with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from DeMarcus Ayers. Change of pace quarterback Greg Ward, also a freshman, then hit Xavier Maxwell for a 69-yard touchdown.
On the ensuing drive Houston got a second non-offensive touchdown when Mathews, who added three sacks, scored on a 29-yard interception return for a brief first quarter 21-17 lead.
Hill threw two first quarter touchdowns to Ross Apo, 11 and 18 yards, as BYU re-claimed a first quarter lead 24-21.
Houston's defense started to respond in the second quarter. They stopped four of BYU's six drives in the second quarter and held the visitors to 10 points.
O'Korn and the offense heated up as well. The freshman hit touchdown passes of six yards to Deontay Greenberry and connected with Daniel Spencer to spark a dazzling 41-yard catch-and-run to help Houston to a 38-34 first half lead.
BYU 47, Houston 46
BYU 24 10 0 13--47
Houston 21 17 2 6--46
BYU--Williams 15 run (J.Sorensen kick), 14:05.
BYU--J.Sorensen 41 field goal, 10:03.
Houston--Ayers 95 kickoff return (Leone kick), 9:47.
BYU--Apo 11 pass from Hill (J.Sorensen kick), 8:10.
Houston--Maxwell 69 pass from Ward (Leone kick), 7:02.
Houston--Mathews 29 interception return (Leone kick), 5:57.
BYU--Apo 18 pass from Hill (J.Sorensen kick), 3:13.
Houston--Leone 29 field goal, 11:11.
Houston--Greenberry 6 pass from O'Korn (Leone kick), 9:38.
BYU--Williams 1 run (J.Sorensen kick), 3:57.
Houston--Spencer 41 pass from O'Korn (Leone kick), 1:31.
BYU--J.Sorensen 20 field goal, :00.
BYU--Hoffman 25 pass from Hill (J.Sorensen kick), 12:57.
Houston--Greenberry 10 pass from O'Korn (pass failed), 5:20.
BYU--Ridley 11 pass from Hill (run failed), 1:08.
First downs 41 23
Rushes-yards 71-264 29-48
Passing 417 435
Comp-Att-Int 29-44-3 31-47-3
Return yards 21 38
Punts-avg. 7-42.9 8-47.9
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties-yards 14-125 10-88
Time of possession 33:57 26:03
Rushing--BYU, Hill 34-128, Williams 17-83, Hine 12-55, Brown 3-6, Lasike 2-5, Team 3-(minus 13). Houston, R.Jackson 14-61, Farrow 4-9, Ward 1-1, O'Korn 10-(minus 23).
Passing--BYU, Hill 29-44-3-417. Houston, O'Korn 29-45-3-363, Ward 2-2-0-72.
Receiving--BYU, Hoffman 7-156, Ridley 7-90, Falslev 5-37, Mi.Mathews 4-68, Apo 4-41, Friel 1-24, Lasike 1-1. Houston, Greenberry 11-68, Spencer 7-186, Maxwell 5-136, McDuffey 3-31, R.Jackson 3-15, Farrow 2-(minus 1).