Max Hall’s heroics headline inaugural BYU football alumni game

There are winners, and then there’s Max Hall.

BYU’s all-time winningest quarterback added another highlight to his ever-stacked career resume Thursday night, leading team navy to a 31-27 victory in BYU’s first ever alumni football game after connecting with Bryan Kehl for a 55-yard, game-winning Hail Mary touchdown in the game’s final seconds to defeat team royal.

The seven-on-seven, one hand touch outing had been controlled by Hall’s navy squad from the start, who led 25-14 in the fourth quarter following two touchdown grabs for Mitch Mathews and additional scores from Reno Mahe and Devon Blackmon.

Team royal — with former Cougar gunslingers Kevin Feterik and Charlie Peterson sharing quarterback duties — rallied for an Ed Lamb touchdown and Colby Pearson end zone interception to have a shot at a game-winning drive. Feterik drove down the field and tossed a go-ahead, toe-tap touchdown to Aleva Hifo, giving royal its first lead of the night with just eight seconds remaining.

At that point, team royal had capitalized on every ounce of momentum and had seemingly sunk navy, who desperately needed a miracle to escape defeat.

Miracles? Max Hall knows a thing or two about that. Just ask Utah in 2007 and 2009.

After a 20-yard strike from Hall to Cody Hoffman, Hall launched deep bomb into the back of the end zone, where former New York linebacker Kehl — who played the entirety of the contest with two broken fingers — fought through the swarm of blue to haul in the game-winning touchdown and ignite a raucous celebration.

“On that last play, Brian got in and said ‘Max, just throw it up to me and I’ll catch it,’ and he did,” Hall said. “That was about everything I had to get it there, so that’ll hurt for a few days. What a moment, that was a lot of fun.”

“It wouldn’t be a Max Hall game without the magic,” Kehl added. “When you’re living right on and off the field, magic happens.”

Watching Hall throughout the evening, it was hard to believe he’d been retired for nearly a decade, flaunting his arm strength to throw for 313 yards on 18-of-32 passing with four touchdowns. Fellow navy quarterback Brandon Doman pitched in to complete nine of 10 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown, with Hoffman posting five catches for 79 yards and Mathews grabbing a pair of touchdowns as well.

For royal, Feterik finished the night 26-of-32 for 224 yards and two touchdowns, with Peterson adding another 189 yards and two touchdowns as well. Pearson and Hifo were arguably the game’s most dominant performers, combining for 179 yards on 12 catches with two scores.

More than 7,500 fans were in attendance at LaVell’s house to take in the game, storming the field in hysterics following the Hail Mary and getting pictures and autographs with Cougars past and present for more than an hour afterward.

In the end, it didn’t matter which side won the game. It was a night to celebrate the many generations of football excellence at BYU, feeling just like Provo’s own interpretation of “Field of Dreams.”

“To have a chance to come back on this field with these guys and play.. that’s something we’ll always remember,” Hall said.

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