One point, one second and 42 yards separated the Cougars from an opening season win last Saturday at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. The scenario would be a daunting challenge for any offense, not to mention one forced into playing a freshman backup quarterback.
But BYU’s Tanner Mangum isn’t your average freshman backup quarterback.
The end zone filled with three Cougar receivers and eight Husker defenders as Mangum rolled to his right. He launched up a 42-yard Hail Mary pass that found its way to 6-foot-6-inch receiver Mitch Mathews at the goal line, providing the winning score for a last–second 33–28 win.
“I’ve been preparing of this moment all summer long,” Mangum said on the post-game ABC broadcast. “I just got back from my mission three months ago but I knew I had to get ready, I had to be prepared.”
The Cougar win broke Nebraska’s 29-game winning streak for home openers.
The thrilling victory was dampened by the loss of Taysom Hill, who had a phenomenal first half with 231 passing yards, one passing touchdown and two rushing touchdowns.
Hill’s amazing play was short lived as he tweaked his foot in the first half and re-injured it in the third quarter, leaving the game with a total of 268 passing yards and 72 rushing yards. Mangum finished the game 7 of 11 with 111 yards.
Nebraska’s offense dominated the first quarter, scoring two touchdowns on three possessions. BYU shook off a sluggish offensive start to score on a 99-yard touchdown drive with 2:50 left in the first quarter.
Although BYU’s defense struggled to get its footing in the first quarter, the second quarter was a different story. The Cougar defense allowed no points in the period and tacked on two sacks by Bronson Kaufusi and Harvey Langi, as well as a fumble recovery by Fred Warner. The turnover led to a touchdown reception by Mathews that put BYU up 24-14. Mathews’ catch continued his streak of 25 consecutive games with a reception.
Ten BYU receivers recorded a reception in the game, led by Nick Kurtz, who had 123 receiving yards on only five receptions. Mathews had 69 yards on only three receptions.
On the defensive side of the ball, BYU’s Manoa Pikula led the team with seven tackles. Sophomore defensive back Micah Hanneman was a crucial part of the defense, snagging an interception in the second half. He also recorded six tackles.
In the third quarter, Hill threw an interception, which seemed to inject a new kind of life into the Nebraska team. From that interception, Nebraska went on to score two touchdowns take a 28-24 lead over the Cougars. The Cougars connected on another field goal, bringing the score to 28-27 until the last play of the game.
BYU ended the game with 511 total yards and Nebraska with 445 total yards. Nebraska’s quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. finished the game strong with 319 passing yards, and wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp impressed with 107 receiving yards.
The Cougars will follow up last weekend’s thriller with Saturday’s home opener against No. 23 Boise State. Game time is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. MDT, and will be televised on ESPN2.