LAS VEGAS - Ethan Pochman's foot and Joe Tiller's decision helped Brigham Young make its bid for a major bowl berth. Now the No. 6 Cougars can only wait and see what comes.
Pochman kicked a field goal to tie the Western Athletic Conference championship game as time expired in regulation and then a 32-yarder in overtime yesterday as BYU escaped with a 28-25 victory over Wyoming to keep its hopes for a possible Fiesta or Sugar bowl invitation alive.
"We should be going somewhere," BYU Coach LaVell Edwards said. "Certainly we deserve to be one of those teams."
With representatives from all three alliance bowls on hand to watch, BYU (13-1) sputtered early and then had to come from behind in a game that wasn't as pretty as its typical WAC ending suggested.
Whether it was enough to get BYU an invitation to one of the big bowls won't be known until today.
BYU was one tick of the clock - no ticks, according to Tiller - from not even being in the running for a major bowl, calling time out just before the game clock expired after Mark Atuaia bobbled a pass and fell at the 3-yard-line.
"The game was over," Tiller said, arguing that timeout wasn't called in time. "It's really a shame."
Pochman, who went to Mercer Island High School and played soccer for the Washington Huskies, then stepped up and kicked a 20-yard field goal through the uprights to send the game into overtime, where he won it on BYU's first possession.
If not for a decision by Tiller to take a voluntary safety with Wyoming leading 25-20 late in the game and punting out of its end zone, the Cougars would have had to score a touchdown in regulation to win.
After a free kick, BYU took the ball on its own 40-yard line and drove down to the 3-yard line as the clock ticked down to one second left. Pochman's kick tied the score.
Tiller defended his call, saying he thought it would give punter Aaron Langley a chance to get the ball beyond midfield, where he thought Wyoming could stop BYU.
"It's one of those strange calls but I really think it was a no-brainer," Tiller said.
BYU took a 13-0 halftime lead and then had to come back after a miserable third quarter to win the first WAC title game since the league was expanded to 16 teams.
"We battled back and we battled back again," BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian said. "We could have folded our tent when we lost our momentum but we didn't."
The game was probably the last at Wyoming for Tiller, whose team will likely not go to a bowl game despite a 10-2 season, with its two losses by a total of seven points. Tiller has been named the new coach at Purdue.