Brigham Young University opened up their football season with a thrilling win over the University of Nebraska on Saturday, Sep. 5. The Cougars sealed the victory when backup quarterback Tanner Mangum threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mitch Mathews as time expired.
The game was played in Lincoln, Nebraska, which was BYU’s first challenge as Nebraska had the longest active winning-streak of home-opening games. Nebraska has won their last 29 home-openers, a record that began in 1985.
BYU began the game strong, carrying a 10-point lead into half-time, but injuries would prove to slow the BYU offense.
Taysom Hill, a nationally recognized quarterback, started the game for the Cougars, but left in the second half from a foot injury. This injury will cause Hill to miss the remainder of the year, a regular occurrence to the injury-prone quarterback. At this point Tanner Mangum, a freshman quarterback who returned from his LDS mission in June, took the field and led the BYU offense for the remainder of the game.
A third quarter resurgence from the Cornhuskers left the Cougars trailing by four. Despite a strong shift in momentum in favor of the Cornhuskers, Trevor Samson kicked his second field goal to cut the Nebraska lead to one halfway through the final quarter.
With less than a minute left in the game, BYU gained possession in their own territory with no timeouts. Mangum drove the Cougar offense to the opposing side of the field, but was not able to get the ball inside field goal range. With one second remaining on the clock, BYU opted to attempt a Hail Mary. This last effort proved to be enough as Mitch Mathews reeled in the 42-yard heave from Mangum. The official review confirmed the on-field call of a touchdown to be correct, as the final score turned out to be 33-28, in favor of BYU.
The scene was all too familiar to the Cornhusker fans, as they pulled off a stunning Hail Mary in the exact same part of the end zone to beat Northwestern University in 2013.
This game also saw the Division I debut of Eric Takenaka, a Snow College alumnus. Takenaka played for the Badgers last year and committed to BYU last January. Takenaka was back to return kickoffs, and despite many touchbacks, he did get the chance to return one, gaining 19 yards. Takenaka also recorded three defensive tackles during the game.
BYU will face-off against Boise State University this upcoming Saturday, Sep. 12.