LINCOLN, Neb. — True freshman Tanner Mangum arched a rainbow pass high into the warm Lincoln air, hoping that one of his tall wide receivers would find a way to pull it in and save the game. Mitch Matthews, all 6-foot-6 of him, was happy to oblige.
The senior wideout from Oregon pulled in the Hail Mary at the goal line and fell just barely into the end zone to help the BYU Cougars knock off Nebraska 33-28 Saturday afternoon in front of almost 90,000 mostly red-clad fans. Officials reviewed the play to make sure Matthews had the ball and was past the goal line. The replay was conclusive and BYU celebrated the improbable road win.
Mangum, playing in relief of injured starter Taysom Hill, was very good. He passed for 112 yards, including the 41-yard game-winner, and engineered the final drive, which covered 76 yards in seven plays.
The oft-injured Hill, who left the game in the first half with a foot sprain, apparently re-injured his foot early in the fourth quarter. Nothing has been released on the quarterback’s status for future games.
Meanwhile, Mangum played briefly in the first half, then took over for the remainder of the game early in the fourth quarter. He drove the Cougars down the field for a field goal that cut the game to 28-27 midway through the fourth.
The Cornhuskers responded with a 46-yard drive, but came away empty-handed after a missed field goal. The two teams exchanged punts, with BYU taking over with 47 seconds left.
Mangum ran for 11 yards, then the Cougars ran a draw to Adam Hine that worked perfectly for a 17-yard gain to the Nebraska 48. After an incomplete pass, Mangum ran the ball out of bounds with six seconds left on the clock and the ball at the Nebraska 42.
The Cougars tried a quick out for 10 more yards and perhaps a shot at a field goal, but the reception by Matthews was ruled out of bounds.
With one second to play, Mangum took the snap and rolled right, then heaved a pass high into the air. It came down right at the goal line, where Matthews cradled the pigskin and disappeared in a pile of Nebraska defenders. He was about a half-yard into the end zone.
The Cougars, 1-0, had 511 yards of offense in the game, with Hill passing for 268 yards and rushing for 72 more.
Nebraska, 0-1, got 319 passing yards from QB Tommy Armstrong.
BYU plays at home against Boise State next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 8:15 p.m. (MT).
Stats: BYU 33, Nebraska 28
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