On Christmas Day, Brigham Young University was charitable.

Kansas was efficient.

Efficiency defeated kindness, 23-20.

The loss by the Cougars continued a string of mostly frustrating bowl appearances since the national championship year of 1984 when BYU defeated Michigan in the Holiday Bowl.

Since then, the Cougars have only one bowl victory, a come-from-behind win engineered by then freshman Ty Detmer over another Big Eight school, Colorado, in the 1988 Freedom Bowl.

After a rousing start — Hema Heimuli returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown and Kansas scored on its second play from scrimmage on a 74-yard double pass — both teams struggled offensively with BYU taking a 14-12 lead at the half on a 29-yard run around the left end by Jamal Willis.

Tom Young brought the team out in the third quarter and performed even better than he did in the first half when he had to go into his Houdini routine on about half the offensive plays to avoid a sack. (He was sacked five times by halftime.)

After the defense forced Kansas to punt, Young marched the team 83 yards to paydirt. He hit tight end Byron Rex for 27 yards. Then Kalin Hall squirmed through the middle for 42 more. Two plays later, Young scrambled to the 5 for a first and goal. After a 15-yard sack, he found Rex at the 10 and then Otis Sterling in the end zone to make the score 20-10 with 10:06 still to play in the third quarter.

That was to be BYU's last score, which is obviously why the Cougars wound up losing the game.

But based on what they did in their next two drives, it shouldn't have been their final scoring drive.

As coach LaVell Edwards said in the postgame press conference, "When you keep having opportunities to score and you don't, it comes back to haunt you."

Twice more in the third quarter, while the defense was holding Kansas without a first down, the Cougars drove deep into Kansas' side of the field but came up with nothing.

A 14-yard run by Heimuli and a 27-yard pass to Sterling gave BYU a first down at the Kansas 13. After three incomplete passes, David Lauder trotted out and missed his second field goal of the game — this time the ball hit the left upright.

After Kansas went three and out again, the Cougars used another long drive to get into field-goal range. After a couple of penalties, Young scrambled for 19 yards to give the Cougars a first down at their 29. After two short gains, Young found Bryce Doman over the middle for a 34-yard gain, Doman making a diving catch.

As the fourth quarter began, BYU moved to the Kansas 25, where the drive stalled. Another field goal try. Another miss. This time, wide right.

Kansas finally picked up its first first down of the second half on a 14-yard pass from Chip Hilleary to Rodney Harris, the same receiver who was on the end of the 74-yard double pass (actually, Hilleary threw an overhand lateral to tight end Matt Gay, who then threw to a very wide-open Harris) for a score in the first quarter.

Hilleary came back to Harris on the next play - a 44-yard heave with Harris going out of bounds on the BYU 8. BYU linebacker Todd Herget, who was blitzing on the play, slipped.

"I know I would have got to Hilleary if I hadn't slipped," Herget said.

Tailback Maurice Douglas then took the ball to the 1, where Hilleary rolled out right for the score with 11:26 to play, making it 20-18.

A bobbled snap after BYU's third touchdown became big, as it gave Kansas an opportunity to tie with a successful two-point conversion.

It was surprisingly easy. All-Big Eight quarterback Hilleary made a little fake and rolled right and easily got into the end zone to knot the score.

With the shift in momentum, Kansas' defense, which had been quiet in the third quarter, got mean again.

Two incomplete passes after a 4-yard run by Willis forced the Cougars to make their first punt of the second half.

The Kansas offense then took control of the game with a time-consuming drive and a fourth-down call that may have decided the game.

The Jayhawks were on their own 47-yard line with almost two yards to go for a first down with 7:30 to play. Instead of punting, they did a simple handoff to Douglas up the middle. He gained three yards for the first down.

The drive finally stalled at the BYU 31, with Brad Clark sacking Hilleary for an eight-yard loss to move the ball to that yard marker.

Enter Dan Eichloff, all-Big Eight kicker who had averaged 48 yards on eight punts. He was 16-for-20 on field-goal attempts during the season.

He drilled a 48-yarder to give Kansas its final 23-20 victory margin with 2:57 to play.

There was still time for BYU to mount a drive and claim the victory. The Cougars got a break when the kickoff went out of bounds, giving them the option to take the ball at the 35, which they did.

On the first play, Young found his roommate, Doman, over the middle for 31 yards. First down Cougars, at the Kansas 34.

After an incompletion, Young was heavily pressured by Kansas' All-American lineman, Dana Stubblefield, as he was scrambling left.

He let go of the ball toward Byron Rex but it wound up in the hands of Kansas' Charley Bowen for an interception - the only turnover of the game for either team.

Still, the Cougars had an opportunity to get the ball back a final time if they could stop the Jayhawks. There was 2:11 to play and the Cougars had two timeouts.

On first down from the Kansas 36, Douglas ran right for six yards. Timeout Cougars. On second down George White gained two yards. Last timeout Cougars. BYU's chances hinged on one play. Douglas took the ball around the right side for five yards, a first down, and an end to BYU's comeback hopes.

Statistically, the game was pretty even, BYU gaining 404 yards to 372 for Kansas.

Young, who was voted the game's Most Valuable Player for BYU, completed 15 of 31 passes for 262 yards, the touchdown toss to Sterling and the late interception.

This was his first start for the Cougars.

Hall gained 62 yards on just six carries and Willis gained 57 on 11.

Kansas sacked Young six times, three of those courtesy of Stubblefield, who looked like he wanted to rent a condo in BYU's backfield.

Hilleary completed 11 of 23 passes for 126 yards and rushed 14 times for 43.

Douglas, whose runs ate up the clock in the fourth quarter, had 68 yards on 18 carries.

One thing that may have affected Lauder's kicking was an injury he suffered in practice on Monday to his left hamstring — his kicking leg.

He wasn't able to kick Wednesday in practice but said he felt fine kicking Friday.

Regarding the team's overall effort, Herget said, "I feel we played as solid as we did all year. There were times when they executed very well . . . Chip Hilleary's got some great speed."

The defensive pressure in the first half by Kansas impressed Doman. "Those guys were awesome. They kept coming in so quick."

As the host team from the Western Athletic Conference, BYU had hoped to get the backing of the Hawaii fans, something it surely doesn't get when playing the Rainbow Warriors.

The Cougars didn't, with Kansas' plays being cheered and some of BYU's booed.

They didn't get a win they might have, either, and as such, ended their season with an 8-5 record.

Kansas, which finished the season with a three-game losing streak, ended up 8-4.