After losing Taysom Hill to injury, missing multiple opportunities to put the game away, and facing a long drive with no timeouts, it seemed that BYU was going to let a big chance to knock off a name team slip away. But that didn't stop the Cougars, who connected on a Hail Mary bomb -- Tanner Mangum to Mitch Mathews -- as time expired to steal a 33-28 win over Nebraska.
One of the great coaching axioms is that momentum is a fickle thing. Nothing was more true during the BYU football season opener against Nebraska. In the first quarter momentum was almost even. After BYU's opening drive stalled, Nebraska marched 88 yards to score on their first drive. Tommy Armstrong Jr. showed that he is capable of transitioning from a zone read offense to Coach Mike Riley's pro-style offense. He was 5/6 on the drive including a touchdown pass to end the series.
After trading punts the Cougars were able to break through and score on a 99 yard drive. Taysom Hill connected with Nick Kurtz for a 53 yard bomb. This was the first of many great catches by Kurtz on the day. Hill finished off the drive with a 3 yard touchdown run.
After trading touchdowns, momentum went BYU's way for the remaining of the first half. The defense forced a punt and BYU responded with a field goal to take their first lead of the season. Momentum stayed with the Cougars as Fred Warner forced and recovered a fumble which lead to a touchdown and a 24-14 lead. The score stayed the same as Taysom looked accurate with a lack of a running game.
Momentum decided she wanted to go back Nebraska's way in the second half. Nebraska capitalized on a Taysom Hill interception by going 38 yards for a touchdown. BYU looked out of sorts for most of the rest of the game. Nebraska was able to score on a fake screen pass, which the Cougar defense had a really hard time stopping, which lead to a free run down the seam by a tight end.
At this point the injuries to Travis Tuiloma, Jordan Preator, and especially Taysom Hill gave the feeling that BYU really didn't have a chance in this game. It all changed after a couple key stops, including a missed field goal (the second of the game) by Nebraska.
BYU capitalized on this new momentum swing by Freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum leading a fantastic drive to put BYU in a position to win. After a Nebraska timeout with 3 second left, Mangum connected with Mitch Matthews for a game winning touchdown on a hail mary with time running out. Mangum showed great poise by buying time and finding Matthews running free in the middle of the field. The best part of the play may have been Terren Houk hugging the referee while he was signaling touchdown.
Tanner Mangum came in and performed admirably. He lead two scoring drives going 7/11 for 111 yards and 1 almost miracle touchdown. Not only did Mangum show poise and lead a game winning drive, but I'm sure that the fears of many Cougar fans by seeing Tanner play as well as he did.
Other notes: the defense really struggled at times. Travis Tuiloma proved how important he is to stopping the run. The defensive backfield really struggled to stop the passing attack of Nebraska. The running game was also almost non-existant for BYU. The best runs came at the end of the game with Nebraska looking to defend the pass.