In the aftermath of BYU's gut-punch loss at Utah, the end of which featured two missed last-second field goal attempts, a number of people have asked me: when was the last time BYU won a game with a kick?
It's a good question, and after some research assistance by my broadcast statistician Ralph Sokolowsky, I can report that it has been more than a decade since BYU last secured a win on a final-play kick through the uprights.
It was December 1st, 2001, and 11-0 BYU was visiting Mississippi State in a game re-scheduled due to the events of September 11th.
A back-and-forth game saw BYU trailing 38-31 late in the fourth quarter. The Cougars tied the game on a Brandon Doman to Spencer Nead touchdown pass with 6:11 to play. Four plays later, the Bulldogs were punting the ball back to BYU, which started its final drive at the Cougar 30-yard line, with 3:22 left on the clock.
BYU marched smartly down the field, and on a 1st-and-10 from the MSU 13-yard line, star running back Luke Staley took a hand-off on what turned out to be the final run of his college career, breaking his ankle on a six-yard gain to the MSU 7. After a Ned Stearns run for no gain, Matt Payne came onto the field with four seconds to play, and kicked the game-winning field goal as zeros list up the scoreboard.
Final score: BYU 41 Mississippi State 38--the last time BYU won a game on last-second field goal.
Other last-minute kicks of note since that day almost 11 years ago:
2004: BYU at Boise State
After taking possession down a single point and with 3:33 to play, BYU drives from its 23-yard line to the BSU 21 with 32 seconds to play. The Cougars call time-out, then run two consecutive yardage-losing, ball-positioning QB keepers, each followed by a time-out, to set up a game-winning 38-yard field goal attempt by Matt Payne. Payne misses the straight-down-the-barrel kick with 19 seconds remaining, as Boise State hangs on to win 28-27.
2005: BYU v. TCU
Jared McLaughlin kicks a 39-yard FG with no time left to tie TCU 44-44; BYU loses in overtime 51-50 on a botched PAT attempt.
2006: BYU at Boston College
BYU misses a 51-yard FG attempt with three seconds remaining in regulation--the last of three missed FGs on the day. BYU loses to BC in overtime, 30-23.
2010: BYU at Utah
Mitch Payne has a 42-yard FG attempt blocked on the final play of the game; Utah wins 17-16.
2012: BYU at Utah
Justin Sorensen has a 51-yard FG attempt blocked on the final play of the game, but a rushing-the-field foul on Utah's crowd gives BYU another game-tying shot from 36 yards. Riley Stephenson kicks the ball off the left upright as Utah wins 24-21. Including the block, BYU missed all three of its FG attempts on the night.
While Bronco Mendenhall has yet to watch one of his kickers hit a game-winner, his special teams have salvaged two wins with last-play kick blocks.
2007: BYU v. UCLA (Las Vegas Bowl)
On the game's final play, Eathyn Manumaleuna blocks a 28-yard UCLA FG attempt, as the Cougars escape with a 17-16 win.
2008: BYU at Washington
After a Jake Locker TD run with two seconds to play, Locker's celebration foul pushes back the PAT attempt, and BYU's Jan Jorgensen blocks it to secure a 28-27 victory.
When was the last time BYU made a last-second kick that took the Cougars from losing a game to winning a game?; in other words, when was the last time BYU made a last-second field goal to win a game that was not already tied?
This blows me away, but it appears the answer is:
September 20th, 1969, when BYU beat Colorado State in Provo. Joe Liljenquist kicked a field goal with five seconds remaining to beat the Rams, 22-20.