LINCOLN, Neb. – In miraculous fashion, freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum made his collegiate debut, connecting with receiver Mitch Mathews on a 42-yard Hail Mary touchdown as BYU stunned Nebraska 33-28 on the road at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
With the Cougars facing a 28-27 deficit on fourth down with one second left on the game clock, Mangum notched his first career touchdown on the Hail Mary to help the Cougars (1-0) to beat the Cornhuskers (0-1, 0-0 Big 10). It is the first time in 30 years that Nebraska has fallen in its season opener.
“Nebraska's to be praised,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “They played really hard right to the end, and so did we. Sometimes one play determines a game. I'm so happy for Mitch Mathews. Tanner Mangum is just a few months off of his mission and being able to come in and help our team win. I'm just proud of the resiliency of our team in an opening game on a big stage in a historic stadium and finding a way to pull it out.”
With 48 seconds to go and no timeouts, the BYU offense took over at the 24-yard line after Nebraska missed a 41-yarder.
On second down and 10, Mangum converted an 11-yard run for a first down prior to Adam Hine’s 16-yard rush up the middle. Two plays later another Mangum run pushed the Cougars to the 42-yard line, setting the stage for the eventual last-second pass.Prior to leaving the game with an injury, senior quarterback Taysom Hill had 268 yards through the air on 21-of-34 passing with one touchdown in addition to 72 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Mangum completed 7 for 11 for 111 yards along with five rushes for 26 yards.
“Taysom Hill is lost for the season,” Mendenhall said. “He allowed us to stay within striking distance. There's no player or person that I've coached that I care about more than Taysom. So it's bittersweet.”
Junior receiver Nick Kurtz led all receivers with 123 yards on five catches in his first career BYU game. Mathews had 69 yards on three receptions in addition to the Hail Mary score. Hine added 37 yards rushing on four carries for the offense.
Defensively, the Cougars had seven tackles for loss, three sacks four quarterback hurries and two turnovers, forcing an interception and fumble recovery. Senior linebacker Manoa Pikula led BYU with seven tackles while a host of Cougars chipped in on the defensive effort. Defensive lineman Logan Taele had six tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and one sack.
After Nebraska scored a touchdown on its first drive and a punt on its next possession, Hill led the Cougars downfield on a four-play, 99-yard scoring drive. He delivered two consecutive first-down completions with a 24-yarder to Terenn Houk followed by a 53-yard completion for Kurtz’s first catch of his career.
A pass interference call advanced the offense to the 3-yard line before Hill capped the drive with his 23rd rushing touchdown of his career, tying the game 7-7 with 2:50 left in the quarter.
The Cornhuskers responded with a 65-yard scoring drive, culminating in a 19-yard touchdown catch from Tommy Armstrong to Alonzo Moore to break the tie, 14-7, for the eventual tally at the end of the first.
In the second quarter BYU took the lead with a 17-point output.
On third and 10, Houk came down with a 19-yard diving fingertip catch for another first down. Two plays later, Hill ran 21 yards to the endzone, tying the game at 14 apiece with 13:13 left in the second quarter.
The next Cougar drive resulted in a field goal for Trevor Samson who converted on his first attempt from 41-yards away, helping BYU to take its first lead of the game, 17-14 with 5:42 left in the half.
The Cougar defense then forced a turnover as Fred Warner recovered a fumble at the Nebraska 22-yard line. Three plays later, a 15-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Mathews extended the lead to 24-14. The Huskers attempted a field goal from 44 yards out, but it missed wide left right before the end of the half.
In the third quarter, momentum swung back in the direction of Nebraska with touchdown the 10:39 mark to cut the margin to 24-21 in favor of the Cougars after a turnover. On the next Nebraska possession, the Huskers pushed their way down the field for an eight-play, 62-yard touchdown drive to take a 28-24 lead with 5:31 left in the third quarter.
After a three-and-out, BYU’s defense was tasked with holding Nebraska. On third and 10 yards to go from the Nebraska 49, defensive back Micah Hannemann notched his first career interception.
The Cougars stopped the Huskers' next drive and BYU cashed in for three points to make the score 28-27 after Samson’s second field goal attempt of the game was good from 35 yards with 7:51 left in the game.
After exchanging punts again, the Cornhuskers threatened to score on their next possession, but a tackle for loss from Fred Warner and Hannemann set up a 41-yard try for the Huskers. The miss gave the Cougars the ball back for the decisive possession.
BYU will look to its season opener next week as it hosts Boise State Saturday at 8:15 p.m. MDT at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN 2 and will be available on the Cougar IMG Sports Network along with KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM.
PROVO, Utah – BYU football kicks off the 2015 season with a visit to the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 2:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised nationally on ABC. Live streaming is available through WatchESPN on ESPN3.
Fans can tune in for live coverage on the Cougar IMG Sports Network with Greg Wrubell, which can be found on Sirius XM 143, 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and BYUcougars.com. IMG's radio coverage will begin at 12:30 p.m. CT.
BYUtv will provide pregame and postgame coverage, with Countdown to Kickoff starting at 1:30 p.m. CT. Postgame coverage runs for half an hour after the game.
BYU (0-0) at Nebraska (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015
Kickoff: 2:36 p.m. CT
Memorial Stadium (87,000)
Both BYU and Nebraska are amongst the top in college football when it comes to total wins in the last 40 seasons. Nebraska ranks No. 1 since 1975 with 389 wins and BYU is No. 5 at 354.
The Cougars are 56-32-2 in season openers since 1922. Opening in true road games, BYU has gone 22-20-1 on the road. Under Mendenhall, the Cougars are 2-2 playing their opener in someone else’s house.
MENDENHALL IN SEASON OPENERS
BYU opens the 2015 season against a current Power 5 team for the ninth time in 11 years under Mendenhall. The Cougars have matched up against Boston College, Arizona, Oklahoma, Washington, Ole Miss, Washington State and Virginia. BYU is 5-3 in openers against Power 5 teams under Mendenhall and 7-3 overall in openers.
BYU vs. BIG TEN
BYU has played six teams from the current Big Ten in its history. The team has gone 3-7-1 in those games, with just three of them coming in the regular season and not in a bowl matchup. BYU has never played the Cornhuskers.
Despite this being the first meeting between BYU and Nebraska, the two head coaches are familiar with each other. Though they didn’t work together, both spent significant time as coaches at Oregon State. The two have faced off as head coaches three times. BYU holds a 2-1 advantage over Riley while at OSU. The Cougars topped the Beavers 44-20 in the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl and again in 2011 in Corvallis 38-28. OSU won the last meeting 42-24 in Provo in 2012.
Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall
On the scholarships:
“We’ve rewarded Mitch Juergens a scholarship, and Nate Carter for his last semester. I think it’s the best part of being a coach. Their grins were just so big and it was a priceless moment to announce those recipients. ”
On the suspensions:
“It was so long ago, I don’t know what more you can do to punish the kids besides the scrutiny that comes with it. I don’t know what else needs to happen for these kids to have learned their lesson than what has happened. We won’t be announcing the suspensions before the Nebraska game; we’ll announce them after.
On Taysom Hill:
"Having a returning quarterback gives you your best chance early in the season, I think. We have the luxury of knowing exactly who we have, and that establishes an identity."
On only choosing two captains:
“The reason we chose four in years before is because two players on either side of the ball had similar or almost identical votes. This year was such a wide margin it didn’t make any sense. I prefer two on any given year. But, we will have a special teams captain that will rotate every week. The special teams player of the week will be the captain next week, which is going with the idea of earning that spot.”
“They’re really well coached. I don’t know Nebraska’s personnel well enough, but I do know their staff will put them in the right positions for success. They have a returning quarterback and a strong offensive line, which gives them some stability.”
On the defense’s preparation:
“It’s a work in progress. I’m still assessing the defense. I think fall camp was a fairly great indicator that we don’t give up points easy. But, we’re trying to ramp up the volume and execution with keeping them fresh this week. We’ll learn more after we play.”
On Nebraska head coach Mike Riley:
“He’s a great person. He’s authentic and genuine. In the coaching world, there are two camps. There are the powerful, ego-driven coaches that love the limelight, and then there are the subtle teachers who care about their players and no matter where they are at, they’re the same person. That’s who Mike is. He’s a great coach.”
Playing against Mike Riley coached teams:
“We’ve played them three times. We’ve won two of them, lost one. They beat us here at home and they’ve scored a lot of points against us. They’re always really well coached. The job that Mike did at Oregon State with recruiting and the speed that we ended up playing against was nicely done. They can be methodical at moving the ball and they can be explosive. If you’re not sound, you’ll be exposed. If you stay consistent in what you do, they’ll scheme against that as well.”
“Through three years worth of research, this isn’t like a first game. This is like a series of history now and look at what we’ve done before and make sure it’s not identical. They’re qualified at taking advantage of what we’ve done.”
On Mike Riley:
“We’ve gotten to be good friends through the coaches circle, through Nike and through the board of directors. He’s ethical, he’s moral, he’s a really good person and the players are lucky to play for him. I think he’s one of the good guys in college sports and a quality coach. You can be a great coach in winning and scheme, but maybe not so great off the field. Morally, I think Mike is both.”
On Nebraska’s offense:
“We’re not positive. I think there are elements of what we’ve seen before at Oregon State. We also think there are elements of possibility the quarterback to run. From what I understand, we’re not certain. We’re guessing and predicting. We prepare for our offense with Taysom, so we think that will help us. We have some ideas of tailback runs and what they look like, and we think that they’ll end up doing something like that or something in between.”
On bringing in Frank Wintrich:
“There aren’t any soft tissue injuries that I can relate to you. Those are essentially gone. The team feels more fit and healthier than they have ever been. Already, it’s a credit to him to this point. If that holds true through the rest of the season, that will be remarkable. If you notice, I haven’t had to keep them after practice much. They seem able to maintain the pace right from the beginning. I think that’s because Frank pushed them hard. Frank’s job is to train them for the workload and he’s done a really nice job to this point.”
On the injuries:
“We have had some significant injuries. We’ve had some ACLs and a shoulder. I don’t think those are preventable, actually. They weren’t practice construction driven. They’re just what happens in football.
On Logan Taele:
“I think we cut him twice. He put on something like 60 pounds after we told him he was too light to make a point. Then he came back and started for us last year. He played with both labrums torn. I don’t know if anyone knew that. He’s super tough and super resilient. He had the option of getting them fixed, but thought it would get in the way of his play, so he rehabbed them and hasn’t have them operated on yet.”
On Jordan Preator at safety:
“It gives us more athleticism and more flexibility. If we choose to blitz, it gives us better matchups. So we’re hoping to get the best four athletes and players on the field at the same time.”
DL Bronson Kaufusi, Sr.
On being voted a captain:
“It’s very humbling to be picked as a captain. I like having this responsibility so that I can elevate my game and represent the defense.”
On the defense switching positions a lot:
“I feel like when you have guys that can move all over the place, it shows how athletic our guys are across the front. Having that ability to move guys around shows the athleticism and versatility of our team.”
“It’s exciting, game week. It’s something that we’ve been preparing for over the summer. We’re excited to get in a real game situation and start playing.”
On moving back to defensive end:
“I’d rather be going up against the quarterback and three guys at the same time, than dropping into coverage, so I’m excited for the opportunity. I love that challenge.”
WR Mitch Mathews, Sr.
On the first day of school:
“I feel really good. It was nice to get out there and practice and later go and focus on school. It feels good.”
“Our first scrimmage, we lost as an offense. The next scrimmage, we played better. It doesn’t show the defense was holding back, it just showed we had a lot to improve on. We’ve been working hard and staying healthy, and that always helps. We have a good scheme against Nebraska, so we’re excited to play.”
On two captains:
“We’ve done it in the past. I think our captains are unbelievable. Taysom and Bronson are unbelievable and they’ll lead this team to do what needs to be done. “
“Taysom’s a great player and an accomplished person. He’s the guy that if you’re younger, you want to be in his position. He’s a great guy on and off the field, and that’s why he draws a lot of attention to himself.”
Surprises of the offense:
“Moroni Laulu-Pututau. He’s a freshman. He’s tall and big and he’s playing well in practice. It will be interesting to see what he will do.”
DL Travis Tuiloma, Jr.
On preparing for a big venue:
"So far it’s just really the music. I honestly don’t feel it’s really going to affect the way we play as a defense as long as we make sure that we just prepare well. I don’t think noise or crowd should be an issue."
"It’s just like when we went into Texas--over a hundred thousand people. After that first play, you get your nerves calmed down and get ready to play the next play."
On Bronson Kaufusi playing on the defensive line:
"It’s really fun. I like having him. He’s a good addition to the D-line as far as adding the pass-rush game in there from the defensive front."
What are you expecting from Nebraska’s offense?
"Runs to the boundary. Stretch plays to the boundary. I’m just expecting us as a defense to do our job and get things done and provide opportunities for the offense to score."
What’s different this year from last year?
"There’s a lot more leaders on the team. There are a lot more guys that are actually stepping up to take a leadership role and trying to motivate others."
Why are there more guys stepping up?
"I feel it really started with coach Frank Wintrich with him motivating us to motivate each other instead of doing it from other outside sources. He’s been a big part of helping us realize that as a team."
On defensive linemen Bronson Kaufusi being a team captain and Remington Peck a team captain last year:
"I look up to those guys a lot. They’re in leadership roles. They’re always on top of it. It’s good to have them representing the D-line."
OL Ryker Mathews, Sr.
"Everyone’s practicing, everyone’s playing hard, no one’s getting in limited reps so we’re all healthy right now."
On preparation in fall camp:
"We’re a fast-tempo offense so all through fall camp, we’ve been going at that kind of tempo to prepare for the season so we’re kind of used to it. The defense is still kind of struggling to keep up every once in a while, but it has definitely paid off."
On preparing for Nebraska:
"We’ve been going against the same defense for four weeks so we’re ready to go out and show what we’ve been working on the past four weeks and all the talent that we have. We’re ready to show it to the world."