New book looks at Kyle Van Noy's legacy on and off the field, part 1
This wasn't the first time San Diego State had been backed up against its own goal line. The Aztecs' last two drives had started at their own 2- and 1-yard line, respectively. They also had a drive in the first quarter start at their own 5-yard line. The safe thing to do in these situations is to run the ball, which is exactly what San Diego State did on these three previous possessions. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall had a hunch that this time would be different. The Aztecs would pass. Van Noy lined up on the right side of the line. When the ball was snapped he forced his way past the offensive tackle and lunged at the quarterback. Van Noy got his hand on the ball just before the quarterback's arm started moving forward. He knocked it loose. The ball was bouncing in the back of the end zone. Van Noy quickly pounced on it for a touchdown.
It was nearly identical to the play at Ole Miss in the 2011 season opener when Van Noy scored to win that game. Van Noy lined up at the same spot and got the same result each time.
Van Noy's touchdown gave BYU the lead, 10-6, and it caused an epic meltdown by San Diego State. The Aztecs fumbled the snap on the first play after the Van Noy touchdown. BYU recovered. Jamaal Williams had struggled to pick up yards all game long, but on first down he ran 14 yards for a touchdown. Just 17 seconds had elapsed since Van Noy had scored.
San Diego State went three-and-out on its next possession. Van Noy teamed with Preston Hadley for a sack and forced an intentional grounding penalty on third down. Van Noy was now in full beast mode.
At 17-6, the game was essentially over. There was no way the Aztecs were scoring two touchdowns in the final 11:24, but that wasn't the bad news for San Diego State. The bad news was those final 11 minutes still had to be played.
BYU ran nearly five minutes off the clock before punting the ball back to San Diego State. With 6:29 to play, the Aztecs weren't throwing in the towel. As a matter of fact, their attitude was the exact opposite. They were going to go down throwing. Two incomplete passes quickly brought up a third-and-10. San Diego State ran another pass play.
Mendenhall had a heart and didn't send Van Noy on a pass rush. Instead, his assignment would be defending the right flat. The Cougar secondary had great coverage. San Diego State's quarterback could not find an open receiver. The pocket began to collapse, and the quarterback was flushed to the right. He thought he saw an open receiver on the sideline a few yards past the first down marker and threw the ball. What he didn't see was Van Noy three yards in front of his target. Van Noy intercepted the ball and then weaved his way through traffic to score his second touchdown of the game.
Hadley laughs as he talks about Van Noy's second score.
“I remember watching him fall down, slip and fall down, and stand back up and go back to where the ball was thrown,” Hadley said.
Indeed, it had become almost comical the way Van Noy was toying with the Aztecs. Van Noy had become a one-man wrecking crew. He made headlines in 2011 as the only player in the nation to register a tackle, tackle-for-loss, sack, interception, fumble recovery, forced fumble, quarterback hurry, pass breakup, blocked punt and touchdown. He repeated that feat in 2012, and in this bowl game he came up with eight of the 10 categories. All he missed was a quarterback hurry and pass breakup. Van Noy's stat line for the game: eight tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a blocked punt and two touchdowns. It was the greatest defensive performance in a game by an individual in BYU history.
The fact that this happened in storied San Diego only made it sweeter. It was Van Noy's rite of passage from being a Cougar great to a Cougar legend. Van Noy's greatest defensive performance came on the same field that Detmer had the greatest passing performance in college football bowl history (576 yards vs. Penn State, 1989). In the same end zone that Clay Brown caught Jim McMahon's hail Mary, Van Noy scored his two touchdowns. It was also the same end zone where Young danced like a giddy school boy after catching the game winning touchdown. In this same end zone, Robbie Bosco found Kelly Smith for the game winning touchdown in 1984.
"Kyle Van Noy: The Game Changer" is available online at Amazon.com. For each copy sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Holly and Bronco Mendenhall Foundation and International Aid Serving Kids.
Scott Rappleye has covered BYU football in depth for five years. His work has been published on several websites, including FoxSports.com, CollegeFootballNews.com, PhilSteele.com, KSL.com, and DeseretNews.com.
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