AUSTIN, Texas — Brigham Young had a chance to make a big statement. A week after a road win over a Southeastern Conference team, the Cougars were dominating Texas in the Longhorns’ backyard.
Leading 13-3 to begin the second half, they were well on their way to making the country take their newly independent program seriously.
But a quarterback change by Texas and a punishing Longhorns running game in the second half changed everything.
Backup quarterbacks Case McCoy and David Ash pumped new life into a struggling offense, and Cody Johnson scored a fourth-quarter touchdown as No. 24 Texas rallied to beat the Cougars 17-16 on Saturday.
“Everybody was feeling it, everybody was feeling really confident,” BYU quarterback Jake Heaps said. “It’s tough to lose a game like this, especially when we let someone come back and beat us. It’s uncharacteristic of our football team.”
Heaps passed for 235 yards and a TD, with two interceptions. Justin Sorensen had field goals of 30, 33 and 32 yards.
Convert a couple of those field goals into touchdowns and BYU likely wins, Heaps said.
“You can’t do anything but just go, ‘OK, next drive, next drive,’ ” he said.
BYU had rallied from 13 points down a week earlier to beat Mississippi and was rolling to another big win.
But McCoy, younger brother of former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, and Ash started rotating snaps after ineffective starter Garrett Gilbert was pulled in the second quarter.
Ash’s early runs enabled Texas’ first touchdown on a short run by Johnson. McCoy took most of the snaps on the drive to the decisive TD, twice hitting Jaxon Shipley for big gains before Johnson scored again.
‘It’s just not us,” BYU offensive tackle Matt Reynolds said. “Close games, that’s where we’re at our best, and we weren’t there tonight.”
Texas’ new QB duo might push Gilbert out of the starting role. McCoy and Ash combined for 9 of 11 passing for 92 yards. Ash also ran for 36 yards.
Gilbert won a four-way battle in camp to keep the starting job after throwing 17 interceptions in Texas’ 5-7 season in 2010. But he was just 2 of 8 for 8 yards, with two interceptions, and was lustily booed by the home crowd before he was pulled.
After the second interception, Heaps drove BYU 97 yards on 13 plays for the only touchdown of the half, a 6-yard toss to Ross Apo for a 13-0 Cougars lead.