Riley Nelson threw three touchdown passes to Cody Hoffman, the last with 11 seconds left, and BYU beat Tulsa 24-21 Friday in the Armed Forces Bowl for another 10-win season.
With no timeouts and the ball at the 2, the Cougars hurried up to the line. Nelson then faked a spike that would have stopped the clock and instead stood up and threw to Hoffman in the end zone.
The Cougars (10-3) wrapped up their season of independence by winning 10 games for the fifth time in coach Bronco Mendenhall's seven years.
G.J. Kinne threw three TD passes for Tulsa (8-5), including a 30-yarder to Bryan Burnham with 10:42 left for a 21-17 lead.
BYU needed 12 plays to go 48 yards on its last drive. Nelson converted a fourth-and-9 with a 14-yard scramble and later ran 8 yards on third-and-5.
Tulsa, whose other four losses this season came against top-10 teams, failed to take advantage when BYU was penalized for running into the kicker on fourth down from the 10 with about 6 minutes left. But the Golden Hurricane punted the ball away four plays later, setting up the winning drive for the Cougars.
Hoffman, who had eight catches for 122 yards, got his first TD just before halftime after an impressive block gave Nelson time to throw the ball.
Nelson was scrambling to his left to avoid pressure and threw back toward the middle of the field after 305-pound offensive tackle Matt Reynolds, who had already lost his helmet on the play, retreated for a crushing block that flattened pursuing 275-pound defensive end Cory Dorris.
Hoffman made the catch, then lunged forward with the ball in his stretched-out hand out for the 17-yard score that cut Tulsa's lead to 14-10.
Long snapper Reed Hornung set up Hoffman's first score with a hustle play on special teams. The 249-pound Hornung scampered down the field to hit J.D. Ratliff at the end of a 41-yard punt, forcing a fumble that was recovered by BYU's David Foote.
The Cougars went in front for the first time on Hoffman's 30-yard TD catch with 1:41 left in the third quarter. Hoffman helped set up his score when he reached up in traffic for a 20-yard catch on third-and-10 earlier in the nine-play, 71-yard drive.
Tulsa's Kevin Fitzpatrick was wide right on a 46-yard field goal attempt earlier in the period. The Golden Hurricane had gone from first down at the BYU 14 to fourth-and-25 after linebacker Kyle Van Noy tackled running back Ja'Terian Douglas for a 6-yard loss, then sacked Kinne on the next play.
Kinne, whose 81 career TD passes fell two short of the school record, was 17 for 31 for 214 yards. The Golden Hurricane were held to a season-low 272 total yards.
Tulsa had won three consecutive bowl games since losing 25-13 to Utah in the Armed Forces Bowl five years ago.
Nelson was 17 of 40 for 250 yards with two interceptions, both by Dexter McCoil, who had a third pick wiped out by an offside penalty.
Tulsa opened the game with an 11-play, 76-yard drive. Kinne finished it in style, scrambling to the left to avoid defenders before hitting Ricky Johnson in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown.
Kinne also threw a 14-yard pass to Clay Sears for a 14-3 lead in the second quarter. Kinne set up the score with a 55-yard pass to Burnham.
The Armed Forces Bowl plans to return to the TCU campus next year for its 10th annual game. The Fort Worth-based bowl was played from 2003-09 at Amon G. Carter Stadium, which has been undergoing a $164 million renovation that will be completed before the 2012 season.