Matt Bushman’s robbery of a Western Michigan defender’s interception, his spectacular catch inside Boise State’s 5-yard line and his one-handed grab against Utah are among the most athletic plays of BYU’s 2018 football season.
But do they make the Top 10 plays of the season? A panel that included media types, a former offensive coordinator, media relations specialists, collegiate players and a few passionate Twitter followers took part in ranking the top plays this weekend — and Bushman’s artistry was among those nominated.
Kenny Cox is a tireless and dependable assistant media relations director who works with sports information director for BYU football Brett Pyne. Cox identified about 35 plays this past season that stood out and should be considered part of a ranking of Top 10 plays of the season.
There are many factors that could qualify a play for Top 10 status. Part of it is just the plain old entertainment factor, difficulty, timing, impact on a game, creativity, athletic prowess or the “wow” component. More weight could be put towards how it impacted the outcome or momentum. Still, one can’t ignore the sheer value as an outstanding football play.
BYU’s loss at Washington is the only game that really didn’t provide a play worthy of consideration.
Here is a game-by-game playlist nominated for the Top 10 list:
*Michael Shelton 36-yard punt return
*Dylan Collie 22-yard bobbling catch to setup Bushman TD
*Moroni Laulu-Pututau catch and hurdle
*Dayan Ghanwoloku 36-yard scoop and score of a Butch Pau’u tipped pass returned for a TD
*Squally Canada 46 and/or 44-yard runs (46-yard run set up the game-winning FG)
*Trick play screen pass to Aleva Hifo, pass to Laulu-Pututau for 31-yard TD
*Tanner Mangum to Hifo on 3rd-and-5 underneath route for 18 yards to set up TD
*Zayne Anderson INT
*Skyler Southam 45-yard game-winning FG (low snap handled by holder Gavin Fowler)
*Corbin Kaufusi blocked FG and 22-yard return by Troy Warner to spark a 30-point run
*46-yard reception Talon Shumway
*18-yard TD from Zach Wilson to Gunner Romney
*Wilson 23-yard TD run
*Matt Hadley 21-yard run
*Zach Wilson hurdles defender for a first down to the 5-yard line
Boise State *Michael Shelton INT
*42-yard reception Wilson to Shumway
*Neil Pau’u pass to Bushman for one-handed grab…ended in a fumble though
*Wilson to Hadley screen pass for 59 yards
*Zach Wilson 36-yard run
*Flea-flicker Wilson to Pau’u for 40 yards into double coverage
*Wilson back Pau’u for 22 yards to set up TD
New Mexico State
*Isaiah Kaufusi one-handed INT
*Matt Hadley 40-yard TD run on the pitch out
*Lopini Katoa 50-yard run
*Wilson to Bushman one-handed grab
*Matt Gay FG blocked by Khyiris Tonga
*Matt Hadley TD run on the scrum play with Austin Kafentzis handoff
*Riley Burt 37-yard run
*Collie keeps feet in bounds to keep Wilson perfect
*Wilson to Aleva Hifo 70-yard TD catch
*Wilson to Neil Pau’u 48-yard pass to set up TD
*Ghanwoloku TD run on scrum play
*Bushman catch that took interception away from WMU defender
Now, here are the Top 10 plays of 2018:
10. Matt Gay’s FG blocked by Khyiris Tonga. It came against one of the nation’s top kickers and NCAA’s best special teams units.
9. Matt Hadley’s 59-yard screen pass from Wilson against Boise State. This was a spectacular catch and run that showed off Hadley's remarkable vision and speed as a converted defensive player to running back.
8. Bushman’s one-handed catch against Utah came during a stretch of time BYU’s entire team was playing at its highest level to that point in the season. It represented outstanding execution by Wilson and even better playmaking ability by Bushman against the nation’s top defense.
7. Zach Wilson’s hurdling a Northern Illinois defender at the 5-yard line and his triumphant stance afterward became a symbolic moment for the freshman, showing how confident and aggressive he intended to be as a Division I QB. That and his 23-yard TD run in against Hawaii in his first start were eye-openers for many as to what makes Wilson tick.
6. Matt Bushman’s catch that took an interception away from a WMU defender in the bowl game preserved a perfect 19-for-19 passing performance by BYU, 18-of-18 by freshman Zach Wilson. It broke a school record of 14-for-14 set by Steve Sarkisian’s against Fresno State in 1995. It also displayed why Bushman cannot be underutilized as a receiver in BYU’s offense.
5. Dayan Ghanwoloku’s 36-yard scoop and score of a Butch Pau’u tipped pass returned for a TD against California. Ghanwoloku, who moved from safety to corner, also had four fumble recoveries during the season.
4. Wilson to Aleva Hifo 70-yard TD catch in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl was a picture of perfect timing, execution, ball placement and one-handed acumen by Hifo. It featured excellence by both QB and WR. It is a hallmark of what BYU’s passing game has been and should be and was the longest TD play of the year.7 comments on this story
3. Skyler Southam’s 45-yard game-winning FG (low snap handled by holder Gavin Fowler). This play launched BYU into the AP Top 25. Wisconsin went on to an 8-5 record and fifth straight bowl win after beating Miami 35-3 in the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium last Thursday.
2. Squally Canada’s runs of 46 and 44 yards (46-yard run set up the game-winning FG) were the Washington State transfer’s greatest plays of his BYU career and came in a game where the Cougar offensive and defensive lines outplayed a Big Ten team.
1. Hifo’s trick pass to Pututau at Wisconsin shocked the crowd at Camp Randall, shocked a national TV audience and took BYU faithful by surprise. That play upended Wisconsin, then a top-10 ranked team, and the Badgers never really recovered.