Provo • This time around, there were no late-game heroics. No overtime. No rushing of the field after a deflected pass and interception to seal the win.
Instead, the Washington Huskies were the ones to put on a show.
In what BYU hoped would be a turnaround after last year’s 35-7 loss in Seattle, the rematch looked much the same, with the No. 22 Huskies leaving Provo with a 45-19 victory over the Cougars. BYU coach Kalani Sitake was suitably impressed.
“We’ve faced some really good teams, but I think that [Washington] put us in a really tough spot,” BYU Sitake said. “They got up ahead on us and whenever we tried to get momentum, they were able to stop it.”
BYU’s early schedule looked challenging on paper before the season, and it certainly lived up to its billing. The Cougars are the only team in the nation to play nationally ranked teams in the first four games of the season. The Cougars opened the season at then-No. 15 Utah and then took on then-No. 24 USC two weeks later before facing No. 22 Washington.
The Cougars are also the only team to play four Power Five teams to start the season. BYU split the results, getting wins against Tennessee and the Trojans, but falling to the Utes and Huskies. The Cougars will take it, though Sitake said some shortcomings were exposed in the process. Especially by Washington.
“I knew that going into this part of our schedule, we would need our depth,” Sitake said. “We felt like we have a huge emphasis on out depth. [Washington] put us in a really tough spot. Their coaching staff did an amazing job preparing. It would have been nice to have that one back."
Penalties and turnovers
Yellow flags were flying all over the place Saturday. In total, BYU and Washington accumulated 19 penalties for 159 yards.
The Cougars lost 80 yards on nine penalties.
Then there were the turnovers.
After doing a good job of holding onto the ball against Tennessee and USC, the Cougars struggled against Washington. Besides turning over the ball on downs twice, the Cougars lost two fumbles and were intercepted. The Huskies only lost one fumble, were intercepted once and only turned over on downs once.
Washington converted two of the BYU turnovers into a pair of touchdowns.
“They were a good team — they’re really good — but I think our mistakes made them look a lot better,” BYU tight end Matt Bushman said.
Bushman said he felt like he was trying to do too much, resulting in penalties and mistakes, like false starts.
“If we fix that, if we would have fixed that and wouldn't have done that, I think we would have been in the game,” Bushman said. “It would have been a lot closer.”
Bushman turned in another fine performance Saturday, with six catches for 89 yards and one touchdown. The performance moved Bushman into the No. 9 spot for career receptions by a BYU tight end with 93. Bushman is also No. 10 in career receiving yards by a tight end with 1,239.
Freshman Max Tooley notched his first interception, which he returned for 33 yards. Tooley was one of four freshmen who stood out in the Washington game.
Redshirt freshman Payton Wilgar led the team with a career-high 10 tackles, Tyler Allgeier forced a fumble and Hayden Livingston recovered it.
“It was the first time, really, playing these couple of games and just being able to make a play, I was excited,” Tooley said. “I was just putting in all the effort I could to make a big play. When you see the ball come out, you're obviously a little bit nervous, but seeing the play be overturned and called down was a relief. It was just a big game changer and momentum boost for us.”
Kicker and punter Jake Oldroyd also had a career-long field goal, nailing a 54-yard kick at the end of the first half.
Running back Ty’Son Williams walked off the field toward the end of the first half with an undisclosed injury. After the game, Sitake said he still didn’t have any updates on Williams, but did have information on Zayne Anderson, who’s been out a couple of games.
The senior linebacker will be out the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury, in a real blow for the Cougar defense.
“He was never really 100 percent going into it,” Sitake said. “I think he’s scheduled into having another surgery. We’ll miss him, but the other guys need to step up.”
The Cougars embark on the first of two straight road trips into the Eastern time zone, with a bye in between.
On Saturday, BYU visits Toledo in a 10 a.m. MDT kickoff. The 2-1 Rockets are coming off a 41-35 victory at Colorado State and played the Cougars very tough in 2016 before falling to BYU in a 55-53 shootout in Provo.
Following the Toledo game, BYU draws an off week, followed by a trip to South Florida on Oct. 12.