LAS -- The BYU offense scored a touchdown on its first possession in overtime, and the defense intercepted a fourth-down, desperation pass by UNLV to earn a 27-20 victory over the Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday.
Matt Berry completed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Toby Christensen to give the Cougars the lead following their first overtime possession. Berry was three for four for 24 yards in overtime, including two passes to Daniel Coats.
Berry finished the game 31- of-44 for 274 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for one score--a quarterback keeper to tie the score at 20-20 with just 29 seconds remaining.
After Berry's touchdown pass in overtime, UNLV's offense took the field. On its first play, Rebel running back Dominique Dorsey rushed for six yards. But the Cougar defense would cause UNLV to lose eight yards on its next play, forcing a third and 12.
Coach Gary Crowton said he was proud of his team and it felt great to get a win.
"We've had a couple of losses there, especially that Wyoming loss which was such a close game. We had a chance to come back and then instead of winning that, we lost it" Crowton said. "And this one we came back and we won it and it just feels good."
The defense forced an incompletion on third down and Aaron Francisco intercepted a pass on fourth down to seal the Cougar victory, ending BYU's two-game losing streak.
UNLV jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, benefiting from three Cougar turnovers on consecutive possessions, resulting in 10 Rebel points.
Crowton said the reason why the team had so many turnovers was they were pressing and trying to do too much.
"I sat them down and I said 'Look, they're not stopping us, we're stopping ourselves," Crowton said.
But the Cougars would come roaring back in the second quarter, matching the Rebels' output in the first quarter to knot the game at 13 going into halftime. BYU scored first on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Berry to Christensen. Matt Payne rounded out the scoring, kicking 40- and 50-yard field goals in the first half of play.
The two teams remained scoreless for much of the second half. The Rebels scored on a 22-yard pass from Kurt Nantkes to Earvin Johnson to take a 20-13 lead with 4:56 left to play in the game.
After the UNLV score, BYU took over with 4:56 left in the game, and Berry led the team 70 yards down the field, scoring on a one-yard run to tie the game and force overtime. He completed 6-of-7 passes on the drive for 53 yards, completing passes to four different receivers.
Berry said the team was confident going into that last drive, despite what happened last week at Wyoming.
"We all knew we were going to win," Berry said. "We weren't nervous or anything. We all knew what we needed to do. And it wasn't going to be another 'Oh brother, here we go again, we're losing another game we shouldn't have.' We all knew what we needed to do."