BYU wants entry into the Big 12 so they can face West Virginia every season. The Cougars had their shot Saturday at the 2-0 Mountaineers on a neutral site in Washington DC, but ultimately fell short after Taysom Hill was intercepted for the third time in the game.
After recovering a fumble at their own 6-yard line, the Cougars had 2:37 on the clock to play for the win or tie at FedEx Field. But after approaching field goal range, the senior Hill’s heave near the goal line with just over a minute to play was tipped and picked by Maurice Fleming to secure the 35-32 loss.
BYU has dropped three straight games by a combined 7 points.
BYU took a 10-7 lead in the second quarter after a Butch Pau’u pick led to a Rhett Almond field goal. But West Virginia followed with back-to-back touchdowns before the half. Rushel Shell completed his second touchdown run, and then Hill was forced to throw off-balance and was intercepted by Rasual Douglas, who took it 54-yards for a pick six to lift the Mountaineers out in front 21-10.
The Cougars began the third quarter with a score, Jamaal Williams with his first of two on the night. A failed 2-point conversion made it 21-19 West Virginia.
The Mountaineers would later turn a Williams fumble into a score, and Mountaineer quarterback Skyler Howard found Daikiel Shorts with a touchdown strike early in the fourth to give the Mountaineers their largest lead at 16 points
But just as they did in their first three games, the Cougars rallied late. Williams scored for the second time with a 3-yard run, and then Hill hooked up with BYU’s leading receiver, Moroni Laulu-Pututau, with just under 6 minutes to play to cut it to a 35-32 game.
Taysom failed to engineer a rally, however, like he did week 1 on a neutral site against Arizona. Hill threw for 241 yards, and Jamaal ran for 169 yards in the loss. It was Williams’ best game in blue in nearly three years. BYU plays next in Provo on September 30 vs Toledo (3-0).