BYU Alumni Game brings Cougar football legends together again in thrilling finish
PROVO, Utah — BYU's first annual Alumni Game ended in dramatic fashion with Cougar greats of the past and more than 7,500 fans returning to LaVell Edwards Stadium to watch a Hail Mary touchdown as time expired for Team Navy to beat Team Royal 31-27 on Thursday night.
After leading for the majority of the game, Team Navy found itself down 27-25 following Team Royal's go-ahead drive, engineered by Kevin Feterik driving 75 yards and tossing a 7-yard touchdown to Aleva Hifo with eight seconds remaining in the game.
Taking over at the 25-yard line with eight seconds remaining, Team Navy picked up a first down on a completion from Max Hall to Cody Hoffman to set up a final play with three seconds left.
Hall launched a 55-yard Hail Mary into a mix of Royal and Navy and it was former linebacker Bryan Kehl who was in with the Navy offense that came down with the football for the winning score.
Hall was named the Offensive MVP for Team Navy while safety Joe Samson with two interceptions was the Navy Team Defensive MVP. Hifo received the Offensive MVP honors for Team Royal while BYU assistant head coach and safeties coach Ed Lamb earned the Defensive MVP award for Team Royal.
The Alumni Game was part of BYU's Alumni Day to close out spring football practices, capped off by the team's last practice Thursday afternoon. Hundreds of former players, coaches, and even Patti Edwards, the wife of legendary Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards, were welcomed back to campus by head coach Kalani Sitake and his program for the reunion.
Team Navy Player Highlights
- Max Hall: 18 of 32, 313 yards, 3 TD, INT
- Brandon Doman: 9 for 10, 115 yards, TD, INT
- Cody Hoffman: 5 receptions, 79 yards
- Mitch Matthews: 5 receptions, 43 yards, 2 TD
- Devon Blackmon: TD
- Reno Mahe: TD
- Bryan Kehl: TD (Game-winning)
- Joe Sampson: 2 INT
Team Royal Player Highlights
- Kevin Feterik: 26 of 32, 224 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
- Charlie Peterson: 10 for 13, 189 yards, 2 TD
- Aleva Hifo: 5 receptions, 104 yards, TD
- Colby Pearson: 7 receptions, 75 yards, TD
- Spencer Nead: TD
- Ed Lamb: TD
- Jernaro Gilford: INT
Following the game, several alumni spoke to the media about the game and Alumni Day. Read comments from Max Hall, Bryan Kehl and Aleva Hifo below.
Quarterback Max Hall (2007-09) | watch interview
On the alumni game
“What a fun night to have everyone out here playing together. We made some plays tonight and I don’t think anyone got hurt so that’s a huge plus.”
“Just being out here and throwing the ball around was amazing. I want to come back and be a part of this every year.”
On the last play of the game
“On that last play of the game Bryan just said throw it up to me and I’ll catch it and he did. It took about everything I had to get it there so that’ll hurt me for a few days, but what a moment.”
On the football program currently
“It is almost easy to be a BYU fan right now. Kalani is wanting to get the alumni more involved and help us build relationships with the players, so I definitely want to come back and be a part of what he’s doing here.”
“I love Coach Sitake and what he’s doing for the program. We have a really great football team and I am excited to see what we do this next season.”
On moving to the Big 12
“I am excited that we will be back in a conference. Being independent gave us the opportunity to play some different teams, but there’s always something about competing for a conference championship. So, let’s set our expectations high. We definitely have the team to do it.”
On playing with various generations
“Not just the guys on my team, but to see guys on the other side some of the old timers throwing it around and making plays was awesome. It was just an overall great night.”
On coming out of the tunnel
“That was so cool. I got to run out with my boy and it is just a fun experience since we haven’t done anything like this in a long time. The little things like walking out of the tunnel was pretty awesome.”
Linebacker Bryan Kehl (2002, 05-07) | watch interview
On the game
“This was awesome, this was super fun. We had a great turnout, and the fans were amazing. The game was fun, and these guys still got it. Great to be back here.”
“When I saw the rosters, I thought our team was going to smoke the other team, so credit to them because they threw the ball really well. It was fun and it’s great to be back here after 15 years. Two of my kids are here and they never saw me play, so it was cool for them to be here tonight and see me out there.”
On being back at Lavell Edwards Stadium"
“Earlier today we had a meeting and Kalani spoke to all the alumni, and he’s amazing, everybody knows that. The message he gave to us was fantastic and all about the alumni being back here in this house that built us as men, and that message really hit home with me.”
“Today, thinking about my time here at BYU, coming through the tunnel, having your name called out and being in the locker room is just awesome and special. It’s a unique place that will always hold a special place in my heart and it was fun to be here.”
On making this a tradition
“I am in. Anytime they want to do this, I will be here. I love playing, I love competing and I still have dreams almost weekly that I’m still playing, and I wake up and it’s sad because I just miss it. Football is in my blood, and I miss it, but I’m old now so it was fun to come out here and run around and pretend to be young again.”
Wide receiver Aleva Hifo (2016-19) | watch interview
On being back on the field
"One of the best moments was definitely our introduction and seeing everybody come together, all the alumni. Some of these guys haven't seen each other for 10 years, and just being able to reconnect and bring all that back is huge. I think that's the most fun part, and obviously, Lavell Edwards Stadium. This place is magical. I definitely got butterflies walking out that tunnel again."
On what he expected from the game
"Me and the younger guys were like, we don't know what the tempo is going to be. But then the first series, we had some of the corners pressing up and we were like, okay, it's up to speed. So then that's when we tried to kick it up a notch. But yeah, it was fun. Nobody got hurt, and it was fun to run around again."
On playing with different generations of BYU players
"The first person I met was Curtis Brown. I had a feeling it was him, I sat next to him at lunch and he's like, hey, my name is Curtis and I was like, you don't have to tell me that. I know who you are, we talked about you. These are legends, guys like Kevin Feterik, Charlie Peterson, all these guys that came back to play. Those guys were in the glory days."
On the Navy Team’s Hail Mary
"I see eight seconds on the clock and then I'm just getting a drink of water and then the crowd goes wild and I'm like, that can only mean one thing. I look over, I see Kehl running down the sideline. I'm like, no way they pulled that off. I was like, how did that happen? That's the magic of displacement."
On having a chance to be competitive again
"It was definitely good to feel that fire again. I thought it was going to be like backyard football, but then they started getting some schemes and coverages and I was like, OK, this is a real football game, let's go. So it was fun."