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BYU Football: The Top 10 Game-Winning Touchdowns in Program History

Samuel BensonContributor IIIDecember 11, 2016

BYU Football: The Top 10 Game-Winning Touchdowns in Program History

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    Every once in a while, a BYU football game ends with a play that leaves you with your jaw on the ground. In this slideshow, we will look at the most exciting game-winning touchdowns in the history of the program.

    Dating back to the mid-1900s, these plays have made a name for themselves among Cougar faithful. You probably already know what some plays will be, but a few may surprise you.

Honorable Mention

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    2007: BYU vs. Utah

    The reason the play was just short of the list is because the run isn't all that impressive. Harvey Unga  just followed his blockers into the end zone. The reason it came close to the list is because BYU won the game and was playing its rival, the Utes.

10. BYU vs. Texas A&M, 1979

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    In the 1979 season opener, the Cougars traveled to take on the Aggies of Texas A&M. Marc Wilson and the Cougar offense struggled early, but the defense stepped up to fill the void. A blocked punt and goal-line stand helped to keep the game close.

    With Texas A&M up by seven with 52 seconds left, Wilson found all-conference wide receiver Danny Plater in the end zone to cut the A&M lead to one point.

    The Cougars then converted a two-point play and left Texas with an 18-17 win.

9. BYU vs. Tulsa, 2011

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    The Cougars entered the 2011 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl against Tulsa sitting squarely on the border of national rankings. BYU's offense got off to a rough start, but the special teams stepped up. With less than two minutes in the half, the Cougars recovered a fumble and scored a touchdown on the next play.

    With about four minutes left in the game and trailing 21-17, quarterback Riley Nelson led a drive starting at midfield that included three third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion. With 11 seconds left, Nelson hurried onto the field to stop the clock.

    But instead of doing that, he faked a spike and threw a touchdown pass to receiver Cody Hoffman, who ended the game with three touchdowns.

    With the win, BYU finished 10-3, 4-2 on the road.

8. BYU vs. Washington, 1999

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    The Cougars opened the 1999 season in Provo, Utah, against the Washington Huskies. The Huskies jumped to an early lead with a special-teams touchdown, but BYU led 27-14 at the half.

    Washington stormed back with 14 unanswered points and regained the lead with less than two minutes left. But Cougar quarterback Kevin Feterik sparked an improbable drive that ended in a 37- yard touchdown pass to Chris Hale to secure the victory.

7. BYU vs. Utah State, 2011

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    BYU welcomed Utah State to Provo in 2011. The Cougars trailed in the third quarter 21-13 due to sloppy play by quarterback Jake Heaps. Riley Nelson replaced Heaps and sparked an incredible comeback, throwing a touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter.

    With 2:36 left, Nelson led another drive starting on the BYU 4-yard line. The Cougars marched down the field, and with 11 seconds left, Nelson threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Mathews to steal the 26-24 win.

6. BYU vs. Oklahoma, 2009

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    BYU entered a contest against No. 3 Oklahoma in Cowboys Stadium has heavy underdogs. The Sooners took a first-quarter lead, but the Cougars came back to tie the game going into halftime.

    Oklahoma made a pair of field goals in the first half to go up by six. But under the leadership of veteran quarterback Max Hall, BYU crawled back with a late drive in the second half.

    Hall found receiver McKay Jacobson in the back of the end zone with a little more than three minutes to go to put the Cougars up by one. They held the lead for the rest of the game and left Cowboys Stadium with a win.  

5. BYU vs. Texas A&M, 1996

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    In another season opener, BYU hosted Texas A&M in the "Pigskin Classic." The score went back and forth, with Cougar quarterback Steve Sarkisian throwing for 536 yards.

    The Cougars were trailing 37-34 with less than two minutes left when they lined up in shotgun formation. Sarkisian received the snap and threw a 46-yard strike to tight end K. O. Kealaluhi for the win.

4. BYU vs. Utah, 2009

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    In (what used to be) one of the greatest rivalries in college football, BYU hosted No. 21 Utah in Provo. The Cougars led 13-6 at halftime and by as many as 14 in the third quarter.

    But the Utes never gave up and went on a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter, sending the game into overtime.

    In the extra period, Max Hall found Andrew George in the middle of the Ute defense for a 25-yard touchdown to end the game.

3. BYU vs. Missouri, 1983

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    In the 1983 Holiday Bowl, BYU took on the Missouri Tigers. Mizzou led 14-3 at the half. But led by quarterback Steve Young, the Cougars battled back and cut the lead to three.

    With about 30 seconds left, Young handed the ball off to running back Eddie Stinnett, who ran toward the sideline, then stopped and threw the ball back to Young, who ran it safely into the end zone.

    Young finished with 314 passing yards and a rushing touchdown.

2. BYU vs. Utah, 2006

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    In another episode of "The Holy War," the Cougars traveled to Salt Lake City to take on Utah.

    BYU took a 14-0 lead, but the Utes went on a 20-0 run and led 24-14 in the third quarter. The Cougars came back to cut the lead to four.

    With three seconds left, BYU got the ball on Utah's 11-yard line. John Beck received the snap and scrambled to his left. A Ute linebacker began to chase Beck, who ran to the other side of the field, then threw the ball back across the field.

    Waiting in the end zone was tight end Johnny Harline, who caught the game-winning pass while on his knees.

1. BYU vs. SMU, 1980

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    In perhaps the greatest comeback in college football history, BYU played SMU in the 1980 Holiday Bowl.

    Through the first three quarters, it seemed as though the Mustangs would easily win.

    The Mustangs led 45-25 with four minutes remaining. But Jim McMahon quickly threw two touchdown passes to pull the game within six.

    After BYU's Bill Schoepf blocked an SMU punt, the Cougars received possession at midfield. After two of his passes fell incomplete, McMahon found tight end Clay Brown in the end zone to secure the win in one of the greatest games in college football history.

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