MADISON, Wis. — Last Monday, two days after a deflating loss to Cal and days before a matchup with No. 6 Wisconsin, BYU’s offense drew up a special trick play.
In honor of the Badgers, the Cougars named it “Bucky,” after Wisconsin’s mascot.
Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes decided to call the play early in the second quarter of BYU’s eventual 24-21 victory at Camp Randall Stadium.
On second-and-four from the Wisconsin 31-yard line, quarterback Tanner Mangum lateraled to wide receiver Aleva Hifo, who threw a perfect strike to wide-open tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau for a touchdown that lifted the Cougars to an improbable 14-7 advantage.
“I was confident with (the play) because the offensive coaches felt good about it. Aleva made a great play and I think they hurt (BYU’s defense) in practice with it,” said coach Kalani Sitake. “You know me, I like trick plays and that kind of stuff. I like going for it on fourth down. If we’re going to practice it, we’d better call it. That’s what we did in practice. When you call it, the players have a lot of confidence because of it.”
“When I caught the screen, I knew the (defensive end) was going to fly toward me," Hifo said. "Right when I caught the ball, I saw Moroni running free. It worked out pretty well. That’s all credit to the coaches for seeing something like that and putting it in and trusting us to run it. We told (Laulu-Pututau) to sell it to make sure it looked like he was blocking. Moroni’s a bad actor. We weren’t sure how it would work out.”
Hifo joked, “I told Tanner I’m coming for his job,” he said. “I’m one-for-one (in pass attempts) right now.”
“I told (Hifo) that I’d better watch out for my spot. He looked good out there,” Mangum said. “We worked that play all week. It was the look that we wanted. To see Moroni catch it, I was the first one down there to celebrate with him. It was a big momentum boost. It gave us a lot of confidence. It gave us a lot of momentum in that moment.”
In addition to a 31-yard TD pass, Hifo also ran five times for 45 yards and caught three passes for 32 yards.
DEFENDING HORNIBROOK: In Wisconsin’s 40-6 win over BYU last year, Badger quarterback Alex Hornibrook completed 18 of 19 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns.
Saturday, the Cougars limited Hornibrook to 18 of 28 passes for 190 yards. The Cougars sacked him twice.
BYU defensive lineman Zac Dawe earned his first career sack with seven minutes left in the game on third-and-3.
NO ICING: Sitake called two timeouts before Wisconsin placekicker Rafael Gaglianone's 42-yard attempt with 41 seconds left.1 comment on this story
“I was happy to go into overtime," Sitake said. "At that moment, I felt we could be OK going to overtime."
As for the reason for calling consecutive timeouts, Sitake explained that he simply wanted to give his tired defense a rest. He added that he wasn't trying to play mind games with Gaglianone, who's on the Lou Groza Award watch list.
INJURY UPDATE: BYU linebacker Butch Pau’u (finger), wide receiver Neil Pau’u (ankle) and fullback Brayden El-Bakri did not play Saturday due to injuries.
Safety Dayan Ghanwoloku missed much of the game with an injury.