Best Plays in BYU History?

This should be fun: here are my Mount Rushmore of 4 best plays in BYU football history; I’m considering difficulty, impact on the program, excitement, etc. Here are my 4:

  1. Jimmy Mac to Clay Brown to win the Miracle Bowl. Epic. Epic. Epic.
  2. Kyle Morrell goal line stop to win the National Championship (although we didn’t know it at the time).
  3. Ty Detmer TD pass to beat Miami (no Heisman without that pass).
  4. Puka’s catch to beat BSU on the Smurf turf in what may be the last game in a great and hard-fought rivalry. I have recency bias with this, but tipped and caught one handed, 4th down, with a defender literally tying down one arm and pulling the jersey, miraculously getting a foot down, to resuscitate a program that the coaching staff somehow took from a top 10 ranking to being on life support in a matter of weeks. That was maybe the most difficult catch I’ve ever seen a BYU player make.

Your thoughts? Other nominees?

1 Like

Hall to George in overtime to beat Utah at Lavell Stadium. Did I get the guys right? My son and I drove up from Ventura, Ca to the game 10 years ago. Somehow, the pass got past two defenders. The crowd pours onto the field! Epic!

Bosco’s pass to Kelly Smith that clinched the national championship.

Insofar as Puka’s catch, it was spectacular; but insofar as long-term implications are concerned, Bosco’s (once again 1984) pass to Adam Haysbert to defeat Pittsburgh was more important.

Steve Young’s pass back for a TD in the bowl win over Missouri. Or Taysom Hill’s destruction of Texas with his 4 running TDs. Certainly, honorable mention.

BYU top 100 plays!&&p=9799448f7901a836JmltdHM9MTY2Nzg2NTYwMCZpZ3VpZD0yOTA3OThlYy04N2YxLTZlNWItMDk5YS05N2NjODZjYzZmN2ImaW5zaWQ9NTI2OA&ptn=3&hsh=3&fclid=290798ec-87f1-6e5b-099a-97cc86cc6f7b&psq=BYU's+greatest+football+plays&u=a1aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cueW91dHViZS5jb20vd2F0Y2g_dj14WXpnUHctYlFfYw&ntb=1

Staley’s run up the sideline to beat Utah.

Mangum’s two Hail Marys to beat Nebraska one week and Boise the next. Those were big ones.
Doman to Pittman on fourth and something like 15 in Lavell’s last game against the Utes. Hall’s long pass to Collie on fourth and 18 against Utah in 2007 late in the game…

As for defensive plays, I agree the Morrell play was hands down the best. Another big defensive play was Gilford’s interception against Utah to close out that win in 2001. The Utes were already in field goal range when that happened.

I hadn’t thought about Gilford’s interception in a long time, but I loved that it wiped away Ron McBride’s smirk. That was a great game.

I am an older guy and have been following BYU since the days of Eldon the Phantom Fortie in 1962, so I remember a lot of big plays, including some that a lot of you wouldn’t remember. I think Lavell was an assistant coach then. Hal Mitchell was the head coach and Tommy Hudspeth would take over in 1964. It wouldn’t be until 1972 until he became the head coach. There were some big plays in the pre Lavell era but only one I remember specifically. I was with my dad watching BYU play Colorado St. in then Cougar Stadium in 1966 and Virgil Carter hit Perry Rodrigue on a 70+ yard scoring play late in the game in what turned out to be the game winner. That’s the only specific play I remember from the pre-Lavell days. There were some big kickoff returns by Chris the Galloping Greek Farasopolos but none that were dramatic game winners that I remember specifically.

I remember BYU playing Arizona in Tuscon in 1976 in a heavy rain and the score was tied 16-16 and BYU had the ball at about midfield with time for one play. It looked like a tie for sure. Gifford Nielson tossed one into the end zone and George Harris caught it as time expired. I doubt there is any footage of that play, but I remember listening to Paul James announce the game and making the call. That was a big one from almost 50 years ago.

There were a lot of big plays in the Miracle Bowl. The blocked punt that by Bill Shoeplin that set up the Hail Mary was one of the top 5 defensive plays in BYU history.

1 Like

George Harris was in my ward at Wymount Terrace in 1977 when I came to BYU as a non-member. He came to my baptism as did Vance Law. George coached our Ward’s intramural football team. I was the QB. He played in one game with it snowing as a defensive DB. A school reporter was there and recognized him and told the refs. The refs made up a rule that if he played in the 2nd half, we would have to forfeit and he’d tell Edwards. So, he didn’t play. He also played some intramural basketball with us with Vance Law. No one could guard either one of them.

Hold onto your shorts: How about Algieres run down after the Hall interception??
Tyler Allgeier’s incredible play is the perfect embodiment of Kalani Sitake’s dream culture (

I was just going to say something about that play. Algiers amazing recovery and never quit

And there is Van Noy’s strip sack and recovery in the end zone against SDSU in the bowl game (or, heck, that whole game since he outscored the Aztecs all by himself in that game.) But for impact, Morrell for sure. Without that, no Natty and BYU finishes outside the top 10 probably.

1 Like

It sounds like a lot of us attended BYU at the same time. I was there from 1976 (Gifford’s junior season) to 1984 (prior to the national championship season). I recall living at Deseret Towers (U-Hall), Centennial apartments, a condominum complex called Silver Shadows, and a few house apartments.

What about you?

1974-1981, including law school. Hinckley Hall (Helaman Halls), U-hall @DT, continental apts, a house at 765N 400E & various others

1 Like

1980-84, wymount, married ward, with ainge and todd shell (ended up buying his monte carlo after he was drafted to the 49ers).

1 Like

1979 for 3 years at DT Q-Hall (I think) next to Morris Center
1 year at apartment near Provo high school next door neighbor to my fiancé.
1984 2 years at Wymount Terrace. Jason Buck and Jimmy Edwards were in my ward.

I did not know about BYU football and basketball where I coming from San Rafael California. September 8, 1979 in the afternoon I went to the basement in the Q-Hall I found bunch of guys celebrating like crazy and not knowing what was all about until later that day found out we had beaten Texas A&M 18 to 17 football Game. And I said WOW we really did beat Texas A&M? And immediately I wanted to find out more details about BYU sports and got my season tickets for free during that 1979 football season. And yes we got married the same year BYU won 1984 NC football (weird timing). And I wish I had known more about BYU basketball Danny Ainge days. Yes I did see BYU basketball beating UCLA and Notre Dame and last to Virginia in the NCAA tournament which was fun to watch.

My son’s first response was “KVN strip sack to beat U Miss on the road.”

My freshman year was 1984 in DT and I graduated in spring of '90. I served a mission then lived in Carriage Cove for 2 years with my buddies and then got married and we lived in a crappy little dump on 8th N and University my senior year. Funny because one of our daughters and her husband lived in the exact same apartment when they were first married, and it was pretty bad considering it was already a DUMP when we lived there 25 years earlier! My wife and I joke that we may hold the BYU record for longest time steadily dating (2 years) at BYU before getting married.

What, not 2 weeks? hahahahaha
Pet Peeves, RMs who believe that they have to get married before 25 and don’t date around til they find the one and have a long courtship. It just takes time to get to know a person and find out if either person is hiding some flaws

That wasn’t the case for us. We dated for two months, and were engaged for two months. We were never boyfriend/girlfriend; it went from going on dates to knowing that we wanted to get married. When you know, you know — why wait because of artificial ideas about needing to wait X amount of time? It’s been a great 25 years and counting.

I think that demographically, the Church is facing real challenges because a) fewer young adults are getting married, b) young adults are getting married much later, and c) young adults are having far fewer children. Economic pressures are a big factor, but there are also cultural/social factors and counsel from parents feeding into this.

ETA: I did date other girls, but we knew on our 3rd date that we wanted to get married. Waiting until late 20s or later to get married ensures fewer kids, and older parents when kids are growing up.