BYU vs. UMass: Game Changing Plays

KJ Hall (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

All season long, there has been only a couple of plays per game that had a big enough impact on the flow of the game to change the game. BYU and UMass had six plays.

1. BYU calls timeout (6:43 to play 2nd Quarter).

Ok, this wasn't, technically, a play, but this strategic move changed the game. UMass had just completed back-to-back slant passes to wide open receivers for a total of 29 yards. UMass was now at the BYU 6-yard line. It was the second drive in a row that UMass had moved the ball after failing to pick up a first down on its first two drives of the game.

Before the timeout, there was no doubt UMass was going to score a touchdown. After the timeout, BYU forced an incomplete pass on another slant route. Then the Cougar defense moved UMass back five yards on each of the next two plays. UMass had to settle for a field goal.

On their next drive, the Minutemen were just that. They were off the field in about one minute (53 seconds), without picking up a single first down.

2. UMass 14-yard pass on 3rd and 7 (approx. 14:00 left in the 3rd Quarter).

Corbin Kaufusi had a chance to sack the UMass quarterback. He missed, and the quarterback rolled out and found a receiver for a 14-yard gain. That ended the control the Cougar defense had on the Minutemen.

Rather than punting again, UMass completed a 17-yard pass on the next play and a 40-yard touchdown on the next to take a 10-0 lead.

3. Back-to-back pass completions to KJ Hall (4:55 to play 3rd Quarter).

After UMass scored on its third consecutive second half possession to take a 16-0 lead, it felt like BYU needed to abandon hope of winning the game. Just try to not get shutout. Joe Critchlow then completed a pass to Hall for 14 yards. The next play was an 11-yard pass to Hall. That got the Cougar offense rolling.

BYU kicked a field goal on the drive, and showed life every drive after. The Cougar defense got back to forcing punts, and didn't allow another point.

4. Joe Critchlow's third interception (11:55 to go 4th Quarter).

BYU had a 4th and 20 on its next possession from the UMass 35-yard line. Critchlow found Matt Bushman open past the first down marker. He threw the ball, but it went through Bushman's hands at the 3-yard line and was intercepted.

That spelled doom for the Cougar offense. Another interception and penalties killed the next two drives.

5. Jonah Trinnaman 40-yard reception (approx. 1:20 to play 4th Quarter).

In spite of all the Cougars' poor play, they still had a chance to win when they took possession with 2:21 to play. It would take two scores, so BYU needed to score quick. Trinnaman's 40-yard catch made that possible.

With 53 seconds left, Critchlow found Matt Bushman for a touchdown to put BYU down just 16-10.

6. Onside kick. 

After Bushman's TD, BYU needed to recover the onsided kick to have a chance at winning. UMass got it. Since the Cougars were out of timeouts, they could do nothing to stop the clock.

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