Lark leaves a mark in BYU record books and beyond

The Brigham Young Cougars turned to fifth-year senior James Lark to make his first career start against the New Mexico State Aggies. Three and a half quarters later, Lark had left his mark on the BYU record books. He also ensured a lasting legacy made of more than what the record books will remember.

Many great quarterbacks have suited up in Cougar Blue. College football hall of famers Ty Detmer, Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, and Gifford Nielsen are just a few. In many ways, none of them were quite as good as Lark was in their first career start.

Lark set or tied three school records for first time starting quarterbacks.

Most passing yards: 384
Most pass attempts: 50 (Ties Charlie Peterson, 50 vs. Mississippi State, 2000)
Most pass completions: 34

Lark’s 6 touchdown passes were the second most in a first career start (Marc Wilson, 7 vs. Colorado State, 1977).

The six touchdown passes gives Lark a spot on the BYU All-Time Top 10 list for touchdown passes in a game. Lark is in very select company on that list. Above him, tied at number one, are Wilson, Jim McMahon, and Max Hall. Tied with Lark with six touchdown passes are Gary Sheide, Gifford Nielsen, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, Ty Detmer, and Steve Sarkisian.

In other words, it took Lark just one start to etch his name along side most, if not all, of the great BYU quarterbacks of the past.

Lark should have a lasting legacy among Cougar fans for several other reasons as well.

With 384 passing yards, Lark had more yards passing in a single game than any BYU quarterback since the Colorado State game in 2008 (Max Hall, 389). That is a stretch of 54 games, and four quarterbacks.   

The six touchdown passes was the most by any BYU quarterback since 2008 (Max Hall, 7 vs. UCLA). That is an even longer stretch—60 games (still four quarterbacks).

Lark’s 64-yard completion to Cody Hoffman was the longest completion that BYU has recorded since the Wyoming game in 2009 when Hall threw a 79-yard bomb to McKay Jacobson (41 games).

By leading BYU to victory, the Cougars won a game for the very first time in Bronco Mendenhall’s eight seasons when the team attempts 50 passes or more.

New Mexico State is a very bad team, but BYU has played many very bad teams in the last 41, 54, 60, and 102 games. These aren’t meaningless streaks that Lark snapped.  

The greatest part of the legacy that Lark left, however, came after the game.

For the last three seasons, Lark has watched from the sidelines while BYU switched back and forth from Riley Nelson to Jake Heaps. He even lost the no. 2 spot on the depth chart earlier this season to the up and coming freshman Taysom Hill who started two games mid-season for an injured Nelson.

For the better part of three seasons, the quarterback position has lacked a certain flare. As evidenced by the streaks that he snapped, Lark delivered that missing flare against New Mexico State.

In a post-game interview with KSL Radio, Lark was asked whether his exceptional play gave him any kind of self-gratification for being looked over and passed up time after time during his career. Lark responded that he never had and never would look at this game in such a self-serving way.

“It is a dream come true,” Lark explained. “That’s the only way I can describe it. Something I have been waiting for my whole life. I’m just happy.”

Lark may not play another down at BYU, but he has forced us to remember him. Lark will be remembered no only because he wrote his name in the record books. He left a legacy of how unselfish perseverance gets rewarded. 

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at


  1. Why can't this QB start for BYU in their Bowl Game?

    1. Great question. Not a simple answer, but I am planning to address this question sometime before the bowl.


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