‘Hug me, bring it in’ — inside BYU football’s viral postgame embrace
The BYU faithful had more than one reason to celebrate this weekend.
After a nail-biting finish against Baylor, hearts across the country were touched as the ESPN cameras spotted Jaren Hall and Jake Oldroyd embracing each other.
After missing two field goal attempts — one during the closing seconds of regulation and one in the first overtime — Oldroyd doubled over and slowly walked off the field. Faces in the crowd reflected the shock of realization that the never-ending contest would go into a second bonus period.
“A lot of arms were thrown in the air.. it felt like a fever dream,” said BYU sophomore Bodi Tisch, who was sitting in BYU’s ROC section during the game. “Everyone felt defeated but I had confidence in the team for the second overtime.”
For the agonizing duration of the second overtime stretch, Hall and Oldroyd both took a knee and watched their team fight to the end. BYU stood tall, with Lopini Katoa putting the cougars in the lead with a touchdown run and the defense holding off Baylor on a fourth-and-goal incompletion to clinch the victory.
As fans began to rush the field in celebration, many had a chance to witness the most heartfelt moment of the night. In tears, Hall and Oldroyd hugged each other on the BYU sideline as fans and players swarmed in celebration. Although both held leading roles in the celebration-worthy crescendo, the hug between Hall and Oldroyd spoke louder than any field storming mosh pit.
The tender demonstration of leadership and love quickly went viral on social media. The video of the precious moment was enough to bring some to tears and others to reflect on what it really means to be a team player.
“It was a real tearjerker,” Tisch said of the hug. “I felt proud of my school and our ability to demonstrate who we are through Hall and Oldroyd.”
While missing two potential game-winners could have made Oldroyd the loneliest person on the planet, BYU’s players and coaches were quick to jump to his defense after the game, rallying around their kicker to help regain his confidence.
“I just brought him up in front of the team and told him how much we love him and how much we appreciate all that he’s done for our program,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “We still believe in him and we’ve got his back.”
Despite the rollercoaster of emotions from Saturday night, the love from Oldroyd’s teammates never waivered. “He has no reason to hang his head, he’s won games for us in the past. He’s the man, he’s a leader on the team and we all got his back,” Katoa said.
Oldroyd has been in BYU’s program since 2016, earning All-American status in 2020 and nailing plenty of memorable kicks over the course of his career. Fans continued to show their love and support for Oldroyd on social media, with many reminding him of his past heroics, including his dramatic game-winner over Arizona in 2016 in his collegiate debut.
“Thanks everyone for all of the love and support,” Oldroyd tweeted Sunday. “My brothers had my back last night. Next game. Next kick.”
As the No. 12-ranked Cougars go into this weekend’s game against Oregon, it’s clear they’ll be ready to stand up for each other until the very end. Just ask Hall and Oldroyd.