PROVO During the month of November, sophomore quarterback Max Hall passed for 1,260 yards and seven touchdowns and led BYU to four victories.
But those impressive numbers were overshadowed by one particular play: fourth-and-18. It was a play that became an instant classic, one that will be remembered forever in Cougar football lore.
Trailing archrival Utah 10-9 with 1:34 remaining, Hall engineered an 80-yard drive in seven plays and just 56 seconds, capped by a game-winning, 11-yard touchdown run by Harvey Unga.
But it was almost the drive that wasn't.
With time running down, the Cougars were facing a bleak scenario fourth-and-18 from their own 12-yard line. Hall, playing in his first rivalry game and nursing a severe shoulder separation, coolly rolled out and connected with a wide open Austin Collie for a 49-yard completion, giving BYU new life inside Utah territory.
Afterward, Hall, and his teammates, called the play "magical."
For that clutch performance, and for helping lead the Cougars to an outright, undefeated Mountain West Conference championship season, Hall has been named the Deseret Morning News' athlete of the month for November.
It's the second straight year that a BYU quarterback has generated an unforgettable, game-changing pass play against the Utes. When asked to compare that fourth-and-18 play to John Beck's game-winning touchdown pass to Jonny Harline with no time left on the clock in 2006, Hall said: "I think John's play was amazing and that was the last play to win the game. I had a similar play but I still depended on other guys and Harvey to finish it off, which he did. I had some help ... (The play) stands on its own a little bit."
To BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall, creating plays like that is what distinguishes the stellar quarterbacks that the school has produced over the years.
"To make a big play in a big game to win a championship is a mark of a great quarterback," he said. "Statistics other than that might be interesting or relevant to talk about, but to me the major thing is winning the championship and making a critical play to help our team win, and that's what the great quarterbacks do."
"What Max proved is he's one of the best quarterbacks in the conference and in the nation," Collie said after the win over Utah. "Even with an injury, he came out and played like he did."
After just one season, Hall, who earned MWC first-team honors, has already put himself in a position to be mentioned among the legendary QBs who have played in Provo after leading BYU to a 10-2 record.
Hall became the first sophomore quarterback to lead BYU to a conference championship since Ty Detmer accomplished the feat in 1989, and he became the first QB to lead the Cougars to a bowl game in his first season as the regular starter since Brandon Doman, now the quarterbacks coach, did it in 2001.
"One of the critical components to our success this season has been due to the play of Max Hall," Mendenhall said. "He is a great competitor and excellent leader. I appreciate the way he has embraced his role on this team."
Hall, who led the league in passing (301.4 yards per game), has thrown for 3,617 yards, more than any other sophomore quarterback in the nation. He also set the MWC record for most yards passing for a sophomore.In BYU history, Hall stands in good company, ranking fourth behind Detmer, Steve Sarkisian and Robbie Bosco for most passing yards through their first 12 career starts.