BOISE, Idaho -- If Matt Payne's last-minute field goal try drifted a few more feet to the right, the nation's longest winning streak would no longer belong to Boise State.
The No. 21 Broncos held off Brigham Young 28-27 Friday night, rallying with a late touchdown and winning when Payne missed from 38-yards out with 23 seconds remaining.
"That's how you build championships. They aren't built when you win 52-0," offensive lineman Daryn Colledge said. "We can come back. We know we can come back. We're a strong team."
The Broncos (4-0) and Cougars (1-3) traded lucky breaks and big plays all night, but Boise State got the one that mattered most when Payne missed for the first time this season. The Broncos have won 15 in a row and are off to their first 4-0 start since 1994, the year they were the national runner-up in Division I-AA.
"I'll be real honest with you -- I'm not kidding. I never for a moment thought we would lose that game," Boise State coach Dan Hawkins said. "I really believed in their resolve despite some things that set us back in the game."
Boise State charged to a 16-0 lead, but BYU rallied to take a 27-22 advantage, yet couldn't quite hang on.
After Jared Zabransky tossed a 44-yard scoring pass to T.J. Acree to put the Broncos ahead with 3:42 left, BYU drove deep into Broncos' territory but the hopes for an upset ended when Payne's kick drifted wide left.
"He had been perfect and we knew we had to get one," said Colledge, who attributed the miss to the Broncos' pressure.
BYU is off to a 1-3 start for the first time since 2000, LaVell Edwards' final season as coach. The Cougars haven't beaten a ranked opponent since Gary Crowton took over for Edwards in 2001.
John Beck led BYU with 390 passing yards, completing 20 of 35 with two touchdowns. But again, he had no help from the running game. BYU finished with just 25 yards rushing.
Zabransky passed for 302 yards and two touchdowns, both to Acree, and the pair appeared to have the Broncos ahead to stay after a late score.
BYU got the ball back at its own 23, and got a huge break on a disputed pass interference call. Beck continued to lead the drive into field goal range, only to have Payne miss.
Payne had already made kicks of 32 and 42 yards as the Cougars rallied from a 16-point deficit. He also had two of the hardest hits of the night when he leveled Chris Carr to end two long returns.
BYU had stunned the 30,601 fans on a 57-yard touchdown pass from Beck to Austin Collie, who got behind the defense along the BYU sideline and went untouched to put BYU up 27-22 with 34 seconds left in the third.
BYU had just gone for it on 4th-and-inches from its own 42, barely converting on a sneak by Beck. The Cougars also stopped Boise State on a fourth-and-2 from inside the 5, but had a final breakdown on the 44-yard touchdown pass to Acree.
"I'd been waiting for that play to be called all night. I knew when it got called it was my turn to make a play," Acree said.
Boise State beat BYU 50-12 last year in Provo and appeared headed for another blowout by scoring the first 16 points, starting with a safety when Beck was called for throwing the ball away to avoid a sack in the end zone about 4 minutes into the game.
The Broncos got two touchdowns within a 5-minute span on a 20-yard pass from Zabransky to Acree and a 5-yard run by Antwaun Carter -- both set up on big returns by Chris Carr.
But BYU finally caught a break when Lawrence Bady fumbled and the Cougars recovered at the 22 to set up Curtis Brown's 2-yard touchdown run at the end of the first quarter.
BYU's defense finally had a chance to catch its breath and got more pressure on Zabransky, sacking him three times in the quarter.
"I don't think he saw some things and got a little jittery," Hawkins said. "But when you have guys up in your grill and getting after you and you don't have the time to think, I think it makes it a little harder. He's still evolving and still learning."
Payne kicked two field goals to get the Cougars within three at halftime, although BYU could have been leading. The Cougars had first-and-goal at the 1, but lost three yards on the first two plays, then were called from delay of game and had to settle for Payne's first field goal.
BYU's offense went from just 23 yards in the first quarter to 133 by halftime -- still not impressive but a vast improvement.
The Associated Press News Service
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