PROVO, Utah — The 20th-ranked Boise State Broncos were 45 seconds from an undefeated start to the season with few tough opponents in their future. A win over BYU would put the Mountain West favorites in an enviable position.
Then Tanner Mangum happened.
The Broncos watched a 21-year-old freshman quarterback who had been away from football for two years throw a 35-yard touchdown with 45 seconds left to complete the 35-24 come-from-behind win.
"It hurt. We got to go back and fix everything," Broncos running back Jeremy McNichols said.
Boise State didn't play anything close to a perfect game, but led 24-14 heading into the fourth quarter and the BYU offense hadn't had a ton of success. But the Broncos couldn't put the game away and totaled just 12 yards in the fourth quarter. On the flip side, BYU forced two turnovers that led to touchdowns, including a 50-yard return by Kai Nacua that sealed the game with 30 seconds left.
"You got to find a way to win it if you're going to win football games," Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. "We did not win the turnover battle tonight and we didn't win the football game. Those are always the reasons (for a loss) in my opinion."
Boise State quarterback Ryan Finley threw for 297 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Running back Jeremy McNichols finished with 95 total yards and two touchdowns for the Broncos (1-1). Shane Williams-Rhodes had a game-high 11 catches for 107 yards.
But the team fell victim to the Tanner Mangum show.
"We saw it happen last week and we just thought we had to make sure it didn't happen to us," Boise State cornerback Donte Deayon said.
BYU (2-0) trailed for most of the game. Mangum was far from perfect, completing 17 of 28 passes for 309 yards and throwing two interceptions. But the deep ball worked for him, and he came through when it mattered most. Jeurgens caught the game-winner in the middle of three defenders after Mangum scrambled out the pocket.
Mangum was making the first start of his career after another shocking victory last week. He introduced himself to the college football world after senior Taysom Hill was lost for the season with a lisfranc sprain in his foot.
Mangum played well in relief, but he snatched a place in BYU lore with a 42-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Mitch Mathews with no time remaining to beat traditional power Nebraska on the road.
"First start, to beat that team in front of a home crowd after a week ago and the Hail Mary, I don't know where you go from there. But I'm really proud of him," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
Mangum struggled on intermediate passes much of the night, but the long ball was his friend. That and the fact he never lost confidence or got trigger shy. An 84-yard touchdown pass to Jeurgens on the first drive of the game was the fifth-longest in school history and the longest since 1996. Mangum had three passes go for a combined 189 yards.
The first half could be viewed in one of two ways: brilliant play by both defenses or a pair of sloppy offenses. The two teams combined for 10 punts and three interceptions in the first 30 minutes. BYU scored on its opening 75-yard drive then totaled a combined 87 yards on its next seven drives.
The BYU run game was nonexistent in the first half, totaling minus-14 yards on 19 carries. But the Broncos front seven softened in the second half and Adam Hine bullied his way to 93 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
"How we walk away from this game will be extremely important to this football team," Harsin said.
AP college football website: http://collegefootball.ap.org/