LINCOLN, Neb. -- Brigham Young's 42-yard Hail Mary completion from freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum to Mitch Mathews as time expired spoiled the debut of the Mike Riley coaching era at Nebraska as the Cougars celebrated a 33-28 victory Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Mangum, playing in place of senior Taysom Hill -- lost for the season with a foot injury -- rolled to his right with after snapping the ball with 1 second left on fourth-and-4 and heaved it toward the corner of the south end zone. Mathews snagged the ball just inside the goal line, falling to the turf. Replay confirmed the touchdown.
BYU took over at its 24-yard line with 48 seconds to play on the final drive.
Hill, the Heisman Trophy candidate, was hurt on a 21-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He missed just three plays, but reaggravated the Lisfranc injury with 10 minutes to play after he was hit by Nebraska linebacker Josh Banderas on a third-down scramble.
Hill finished with 268 passing yards and 72 rushing. Mangum, in his collegiate debut, was 7-for-11 in relief for 111 yards. He directed a drive that ended with a BYU field goal in the fourth quarter after Nebraska stormed back from a 10-point halftime deficit to take a 28-24 lead.
What the win means for BYU: The Cougars have survived one-quarter of a brutal September that includes trips to UCLA and Michigan and a home date with Boise State next week. Without Hill, BYU turns to Mangum, who's not your normal freshman. He turns 22 next week after serving a two-year LDS mission in Chile following high school.
What the loss means for Nebraska: It's a devastating blow, snapping the Huskers' nation-leading 29-year winning streak in home openers. Before the final play Saturday, Riley's debut was set to serve as a feel-good victory for the program. QB Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw for 319 yards in the loss, but the Huskers failed to convert several short-yardage opportunities, including a third-and-3 rush by receiver Jamal Turner with less than a minute to play. With a trip to Miami on tap in two weeks, the Huskers need to regroup quickly and establish a running game. It gained 126 yards on the ground against BYU.
The game turned when: Of all things, it came when Nebraska sustained a costly injury -- to punter Sam Foltz. Foltz is a weapon and a crucial piece of the special teams unit, already without star return specialist De'Mornay Pierson-El until October. Foltz went down with an ugly-looking leg injury early in the third quarter, when a BYU player was blocked into him. No flag was thrown. The crowd voiced its disapproval, and the Huskers responded immediately as Nate Gerry intercepted Hill. The Huskers scored on their next two possessions to retake the lead.
Uh, what: The Huskers looked sharp in the opening 15 minutes as Armstrong hit 10 of 12 throws for 156 yards. Apparently, offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf felt a false sense of security, because he abandoned the running game for the remainder of the first half. Nebraska, with five scholarship I-backs set to play, can't afford any quarter in which its backs carry the ball just three times. At halftime, the Huskers' leading rusher was receiver Alonzo Moore with 24 yards. No surprise, they were outscored 17-0 in the final 15 minutes of the first half.