PROVO, Utah (AP) — Zach Wilson’s efficient passing has BYU’s offense rolling.
Wilson completed 24 of 26 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns, ran for three scores and helped the No. 22 Cougars beat Louisiana Tech 45-14 on Friday night.
BYU (3-0) rolled up 513 total yards and averaged 8.0 yards per play on the way to its best start since 2014. It is the third straight game the Cougars have gained more than 500 yards.
"I feel like the whole team was in the zone,” Wilson said. “I feel like anything we were trying to do tonight, we could do it.”
Tyler Allgeier added 93 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, and Gunner Romney led the receivers with 101 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions in his third straight 100-yard game.
Luke Anthony threw for 191 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech (2-1) had only 313 total yards.
Wilson once again keyed another dominant effort from the Cougars. He has completed 84.5% of his passes through his first three games. The junior combined with stingy defense to help BYU take control before halftime.
Wilson opened the game by completing his first 12 passes, highlighted by a 22-yard touchdown grab between two defenders by freshman tight end Carter Wheat.
“It’s pretty much just backyard football out there because you know he’s going to put the ball where only you can go get it,” Romney said.
On the other side, the Cougars forced four first-half punts and a turnover. Troy Warner snagged his first career interception and Tyler Batty came up with two of his career-high three sacks to stop Louisiana Tech’s final drive of the half.
"We saw a lot of guys grow up in this game and make some big-time plays,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said.
BYU struck first on its opening drive when Wilson threw a 39-yard dart to Dax Milne to set up his own 9-yard scoring run on the next play. Smoke Harris eluded several tacklers and took a screen pass 66 yards to tie it at 7.
The Cougars pulled away in the second quarter, scoring on three consecutive drives. Wheat’s touchdown catch in double coverage and a 1-yard dive from Allgeier accounted for the first two. Then Wilson completed four straight passes, culminating in a 22-yard strike to Romney, to march the Cougars 80 yards in 37 seconds and make it 28-7 going into halftime.
“We made things a lot easier than they needed to be from a defensive standpoint,” Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz said. “I don’t think we made the routine play.”
Wilson’s final touchdown, a 14-yard keeper, put BYU ahead 45-7 early in the fourth quarter.
Wilson completed 18 of 19 passes in the first half for 236 yards. He had more than 200 passing yards in the first half for a second straight week.
BYU finished with zero turnovers. The Cougars snapped Louisiana Tech’s streak of 19 consecutive games forcing a turnover – the longest active streak in the nation. The Bulldogs have forced a turnover in 33 of their last 35 games.
GOING FOR 100
Romney had his third straight 100-yard game after totaling just 377 receiving yards last season. The junior is the first BYU player to have at least 100 receiving yards in three consecutive games since Cody Hoffman's four 100-yard games to close the season in 2012.
BYU has allowed 24 points in its first three games. It is the fewest points allowed by the Cougars in the first three games since 1951, when they gave up just 21 points.
The Cougars have totaled 12 sacks in three games after finishing with 17 sacks for the entire season a year ago. BYU has allowed 643 total yards so far this season while totaling 1,757 yards.
“What our defense is doing speaks for itself,” Warner said. “We pride ourselves on being a stingy defense. This is ingrained into BYU football for every year I can remember.”
Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs kept BYU corralled for a quarter but could not generate enough offense to have a realistic shot at an upset. Aside from one big first-quarter scoring play, Louisiana Tech struggled to move the ball.
BYU: Once again, the Cougars imposed their will against an overmatched opponent. BYU scored on six consecutive drives from the second to the fourth quarter. Defensively, the Cougars forced six straight punts over the same stretch.
BYU could climb higher in next week’s AP Top 25 Poll after another dominating victory.
Louisiana Tech hosts UTEP next Saturday.
BYU hosts UTSA next Saturday.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25