BYU freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum delivered another late-game Hail Mary pass to give the Cougars the go-ahead score and win over no. 20 ranked Boise State Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The Cougars were down 24-21 with 45 seconds left in the game. Mangum rolled to his right and threw up a 35-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Juergens to put the Cougars on top 28-24. The Broncos had just over 40 seconds to try and score but were foiled as junior defensive back Kai Nacua intercepted the ball for the third time and returned it for a touchdown sealing the victory for the Cougars.
The game ended much like it began, with a big pass play from Mangum to Juergens. On the second snap of the game Mangum tossed an 84-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mitchell Juergens to put the Cougars on the board first. This would mark Mangum’s first career touchdown pass as the Cougars starting quarterback; not a bad start against his hometown team.
Mangum also threw his first career interception only a few minutes later after the Cougar defense held the Broncos to a three-and-out on their first possession.
Mangum was 8-14 passing, for 169 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions leading into halftime. The Cougars struggled on the ground and had 18 yards rushing in the first half. Mangum struggled on short passes throughout the night, but he made up for it by throwing the long ball.
The Cougars started to get in gear in the third quarter.
“I thought that maybe one of the main differences in the game was Adam Hine in the second half and our ability to start being able to run the football really helped kind of get some balance in our offense,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
Boise State opened the second quarter with a touchdown to increase their lead to 17-7. The BYU defense battled strong the entire game and helped keep the Cougars stay within striking distance. Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols helped keep the game close by scoring three touchdowns during the contest.
The return of Nacua had a huge impact on the defense and the game as a whole. The defensive line continually was in the backfield and racked up four sacks. Nacua brought a different energy to the field and the players loved to see him out there according to senior defensive back Michael Wadsworth. Nacua’s three interceptions tied him with the school record.
“Great to have Kai Nacua back. He changed the game,” Mendenhall said.
The defensive line was dominant in stopping the ground attack of Boise, holding them to only 46 yards rushing.
“I think we played great,” Nacua said.
Mangum finished the game completing 17 passes on 28 attempts for 309 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Mangum and senior running back Adam Hine added one rushing touchdown each.
Boise battled tough and quarterback Ryan Finley completed 25 passes on 38 attempts for 297 yards and one touchdown and three interceptions.