PROVO — When BYU scores first, it almost always wins.

That trend continued Thursday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium, where the Cougars wasted little time scoring on their first drive and went on to post a 27-22 victory over TCU. In BYU's last 21 games, it has scored first in 19 of them. The Cougars are 17-2 in those games in which it scores first.

Austin Collie returned the opening kickoff to the Horned Frog 35, and a facemask penalty gave the Cougars the ball at midfield. Highlighted by a 20-yard scramble by Max Hall, BYU drove 50 yards on seven plays, capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Harvey Unga.

The Cougars failed to score first in two games this season — against UCLA and UNLV, both on the road. BYU fell behind 20-0 to the Bruins before losing 27-17. The Cougars gave up a first-quarter field goal to the Rebels before earning a 24-14 win.

BYU has proven it knows how to finish, too. In the Bronco Mendenhall era, the Cougars are 23-4 when leading at halftime and 22-1 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter. In the past two seasons, BYU has lost only twice when up at halftime — in 2006 at Boston College and earlier this season at Tulsa.

ADVANTAGE BYU?: BYU safety Corby Hodgkiss said prior to the TCU game that the Cougars have an advantage over other teams when it comes to a short week.

"As BYU players, we have an advantage when we go into Thursday-night games like this because I feel we prepare better in a shorter amount of time," he said. "Being older and more mature and many of the guys are married, I think we have the advantage of getting our schooling done and focusing on the game."

ALLEN FINALIST FOR AWARD: BYU senior wide receiver Matt Allen has been named one of 11 finalists for the Wuerffel Trophy. Named to honor former Florida quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, the award is presented annually to the college football player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.

"I can think of no one who better fits this award and what it stands for," Mendenhall said. "Matt is one of the finest young men I have known in my coaching career. Matt is fully invested in his personal development, in caring for his family, in his academic goals, in his spiritual growth, in serving the community and in his athletic career."

A senior from Mesa, Ariz., Allen will graduate from BYU this year with a degree in exercise science. He plans to continue his education in pediatric therapy, helping children overcome physical injury and other disabilities.

EXTRA POINTS: BYU posted its fifth straight sell-out with an announced crowd of 64,241 ... The Cougars improved to 7-2 this season. Since 1932, they have enjoyed 29 seasons with at least seven victories ... Representatives from the Fort Worth Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl attended Thursday night's game.

E-mail: [email protected]