PROVO — Wearing a precautionary boot during much of the week and with little at stake against a lower-half Sun Belt squad, Zach Wilson still put on a show.
The BYU quarterback completed 19-of-25 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns in 2 ½ quarters of work to help the 12th-ranked Cougars roll to a 52-14 win over Texas State in BYU's first home game of the season with 6,000 fans Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Wilson completed passes to 10 different players, and also scrambled for 15 yards as one of seven ball carriers before making way for backup Baylor Romney in the third quarter with a 49-7 lead. Freshman tight end Isaac Rex caught five passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns, and junior Dax Milne added 89 yards and a score on four catches for the Cougars, which matched the 6-0 start produced by the 2008 team that finished the season ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.
Tyler Allgeier ran for 76 yards and a touchdown, and Lopini Katoa added 51 all-purpose yards and a touchdown for the Cougars.
Wilson, a junior from Corner Canyon who has recently received NFL draft comparisons, also caught a pass — a 16-yard double-reverse from former Servite High (Calif.) quarterback Neil Pau'u in the second quarter that set up a touchdown that helped spark a 49-0 run.
The spurt also included a 45-yard strike from one sideline to the other to Milne, who flipped over the goal line and took a bow as he gave the Cougars a 35-7 lead at halftime.
"Zach is just killing it this whole season," offensive tackle Brady Christensen said. "That throw to Dax, when he rolled out and chucked it to the other sideline — I was amazed. I've never seen that before. But Zach will find you; he's a first-round talent, as I believe.
"He's finding all of us. A lot of receivers are catching the ball. He's not just looking at one receiver, we're all making plays and it's awesome."
Against a 1-5 Texas State riding a three-game losing skid in their fifth-straight road game, BYU could do whatever it wanted.
The Cougars held the Bobcats to 144 yards of offense before making way for the reserves midway through the third quarter. Max Tooley had a team-high six tackles, Isaiah Kaufusi added five stops and his first career pick-six, and BYU compiled two turnovers and four tackles for loss from Tooley, Bracken El-Bakri, George Udoh and D'Angelo Mandell in the defensive performance.
BYU rolled up 579 yards of offense, including a 49-yard run by punter Ryan Rehkow — the longest rush play from scrimmage of the Cougars' season. BYU coach Kalani Sitake said he apologized to Texas State coach Jake Spavital for the play, which came with BYU leading 49-7 in the second half.
"We haven't shown rugby punt much — haven't punted a lot — so when Rehkow, who has a great leg, if it's there, then he takes it," Sitake said of Rehkow, the freshman former basketball standout who averaged 49.5 yards on two punts. "Personally, I wish he would've kicked it. But he did exactly what we coach and why we have that scheme.
"He (Rehkow) has a highlight now that Jonny Linehan will be really jealous of. He showed his athleticism and speed."
Brady McBride threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions for the Bobcats (1-6), and Marcell Barbee caught three passes for 48 yards and both touchdowns.
McBride completed his first five passes for 66 yards, including a 19-yard strike to Barbee that capped the Bobcats' eight-play, 75-yard series to go up 7-0 after less than four minutes.
That was the last time the Cougars would trail.
BYU rattled off a 28-0 run through the first half, including Keanu Hill's first career score on a 33-yard strike from Wilson. Katoa and Allgeier each added a rushing touchdown during the spurt, and Rex hauled in a 3-yard fade with his oversized hands to give the Cougars a 28-7 advantage midway through the second quarter.
Unlike his first career score, that touchdown did not include his own rendition of the Cabbage Patch, however. It did help him come close to catching his father Byron's career mark of seven touchdowns in a BYU uniform, though.
"The criticism I got last time I busted a move was not very positive," Rex joked after the game. "I was thinking about what I could do, but I realized I just need to act like you've been there. I've been there before.
"Maybe I'll have some more tricks up my sleeve one of these games, but I didn't bust it out tonight."
Texas State nearly ended its scoreless streak near the end of the half, recovering a fumble at the 10-yard line. But BYU's defense stuffed McBride and the Bobcats, including Keenan Ellis' pass breakup on fourth-and-six to seal the possession.
"I think that's one of the biggest indicators of how great our team is," Kaufusi said. "We've told the offense from day one that we're going to back them up. There have been years past where we hang our heads, but we told them to be aggressive, do your thing, and we're going to back it up.
Instead, Wilson ended the half by rolling to his right and throwing across his body to Dax Milne in the left corner of the end zone for a 45-yard touchdown that put the Cougars up 35-7.
Wilson came out of the half and polished off a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 30-yard toss to Rex, giving the Cougars a 42-7 lead on his final throw of the night.
The defensive dominance was punctuated by a pair of interceptions: Kaufusi's first career pick-six, a 32-yard interception return with 9:50 left in the third quarter, and Jared Kapisi's first career interception to help salt away the second half.
"He willed that to happen," Sitake said of Kaufusi's pick. "He's been waiting for that for a long time. I knew one he caught the ball, he was gone.
"He's such a smart player. I wish I could take his brain and put it into all of our players."
11:33 — TXST: Marcell Barbee, 19-yard pass from Brady McBride (Keller kick)
7:03 — BYU: Lopini Katoa 4-yard run (Oldroyd kick)
1:43 — BYU: Keanu Hill, 33-yard pass from Zach Wilson (Oldroyd kick)
12:35 — BYU: Tyler Allgeier, 11-yard run (Oldroyd kick)
7:47 — BYU: Isaac Rex, 3-yard pass from Wilson (Oldroyd kick)
0:27 — BYU: Dax Milne, 45-yard pass from Wilson (Oldroyd kick)
Halftime — BYU 35, Texas State 7
10:47 — BYU: Rex, 30-yard pass from Wilson (Oldroyd kick)
9:50 — BYU: Isaiah Kaufusi, 32 interception return (Oldroyd kick)
8:09 — TXST: Barbee, 20-yard pass from McBride (Keller kick)
4:44 — BYU: Oldroyd 28-yard field goal
Final — BYU 52, Texas State 14