BYU’s 2022 season will be remembered as a streaky, up-and-down year. While they did not win 10-plus games like most had hoped, the season was still filled with memorable moments. Here are five.
5. Puka Nacua 75-yard TD vs. USF
How about starting your entire season with a 75-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage? That is exactly what BYU did against South Florida in Tampa. Nacua took a fly sweep left from Jaren Hall, broke two tackles and ran down the sidelines for a 75-yard touchdown run. 10 seconds into BYU’s 2022 season, they had a 7-0 lead with a long scoring run.
The Florida weather made us wait for it but boy was it worth it for BYU fans as Puka Nacua takes it 75 yards to the house for a Cougars lead…— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) September 3, 2022
That play jumpstarted the best offensive output BYU put together all season against an FBS opponent, as they beat the Bulls 50-21. They ran for 312 yards and amassed 573 total yards after Nacua’s breakout play broke the dam.
4. Ben Bywater Pick-Six vs. SMU
BYU had a few pick-sixes during the 2022 season, but none of them were as impactful as Bywater’s in the New Mexico Bowl. It was after the defense received endless amounts of criticism for their poor play much of the season. Plus, by the bowl game, BYU did not even have a defensive coordinator on the sidelines. Bywater’s 76-yard pick-six broke a 10-10 tie in the third quarter.
One if by land, 6 if Bywater. pic.twitter.com/Ca4DMXqceA— Sean Walker (@ActuallyDSW) December 18, 2022
BYU faced a high-flying attack with SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai. Bywater stopped them in their tracks and simultaneously gave BYU a lead they would never relinquish for a bowl victory with this heady defensive play.
3. Chase Roberts TD Catch vs. Baylor
BYU’s offense really struggled for the first half of the game against Baylor. The Cougars were at risk of being down 6-3 at halftime as the offense mounted a drive with the clock winding down. In what was perhaps Jaren Hall’s greatest demonstration of his NFL-caliber accuracy, he tossed a dart to Chase Roberts in the back corner of the endzone, where only he could grab it.
Jaren Hall to Chase Roberts for a 20 yard twinkle toe touchdown reception to end the half.— Benjamin Criddle (@CriddleBenjamin) September 11, 2022
Chase Roberts is a dude! Jaren with the dime! pic.twitter.com/yOxFJP1TLk
The second half of this fantastic play is Roberts’ catching the ball. The term “Toe Drag Swag” needs to be applied here. It took a long review, but the touchdown could not be taken off the board. Roberts kept his foot in bounds and secured an unbelievable catch. That play had zero margin for error and was executed perfectly.
2. Jakob Robinson Tackle vs. SMU
As mentioned, the much-maligned defense is what stepped up in the New Mexico, much to the surprise of just about everyone. With BYU down to their fourth-string quarterback and struggling to hold onto a late lead in the New Mexico Bowl, the Cougars desperately needed a key play from their defense.
SMU scored late to make it 24-23 in favor of BYU. Instead of kicking the extra point and opting for overtime, SMU decided to roll the dice and put the game on the line with a two-point conversion attempt.
What a stop by BYU! Down does SMU pic.twitter.com/Kk8nJnS091— Barstool College Football Show (@BarstoolCFB) December 18, 2022
The Mustangs chose a quarterback run as their two-point attempt. BYU defensive back Jakob Robinson stepped into the hole and tackled SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai short of the goal line.
With the two-point attempt no good, BYU recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock for the win at the New Mexico Bowl. That defensive play was a testament to how much BYU’s defense had improved over the final few weeks of the season and capped a four-game winning streak to end the year.
1. Puka Nacua TD Catch vs. Boise State
The turnaround just mentioned, when BYU went from 4-5 to winning a bowl game and finishing 8-5, started with this single play. BYU came into this game as heavy underdogs, having lost four straight, and facing the Boise State Broncos, who are very tough to beat on their blue turf.
Facing a 28-24 deficit with less than three minutes left in the game, BYU needed a touchdown. Jaren Hall was tackled on third down after a failed quarterback draw. This put the Cougars in a tough spot, at 4th-and-goal from the six yard-line inside of two minutes remaining. BYU was forced to go for it.
On the fourth down, do-or-die play, Hall lobbed a jump ball to Nacua in the corner of the endzone. After jostling with the cornerback, Nacua made one of the most acrobatic catches anyone has ever seen. He managed to keep a fraction of one cleat on a blade of the blue turf with possession of the ball to secure the go-ahead touchdown.
Puka Nacua makes the game winning catch to give BYU a 31-28 win over Boise State— WestCoastCFB (@WestCoastCFB) November 6, 2022
After BYU took a 31-28 lead with just over a minute left, the defense held serve and BYU beat Boise State on their turf. This win catapulted a massive mid-season turnaround for the team.