Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl Wrap up

LAS VEGAS - Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl Game Story
Dec. 22, 2007

No. 17 BYU (11-2) won its second-consecutive Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, escaping with a 17-16 victory over UCLA (6-7) after defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna blocked a 28-yard field goal as time expired. The second-largest crowd (40,712) in Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl history and an ESPNHD audience watched the thrilling game.

The unlikely ending followed a record-setting night by Bruin place-kicker Kai Forbath, who made a bowl-record 52-yard kick, along with attempts of 50 and 22 yards that kept the Bruins in it.

UCLA drove nearly the entire length of the field in the final two minutes to line up Forbath for the potential winner. But Manumaleuna and Brett Denney led a surge by the defensive line for the block and the Cougars got their first win over the Bruins since Steve Young was the Cougars' quarterback.

Cougar wide receiver Austin Collie, the MVP of the bowl, finished with six receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown in helping BYU win its 10th straight win despite getting shut out in the second half. Sophomore quarterback Max Hall threw two touchdowns in the first half as BYU grabbed a 17-6 lead.

BYU managed just 265 yards against a stingy Bruin defense, who were playing for interim coach and defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker.

The Cougar victory avenged a 27-17 regular-season loss in Los Angeles and it snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Bruins.

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl Game Notes

-Tonight's crowd of 40,712 marked the third consecutive sellout of the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, the second-largest crowd in the history of the bowl.

Top Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl Crowds
44,615 - 2006, BYU vs. Oregon
40,712 - 2007, BYU vs. UCLA
40,053 - 2005, Cal vs. BYU
30,894 - 2001, Utah vs. USC
30,324 - 2002, UCLA vs. New Mexico

-The crowd was also the fourth-largest crowd in the history of Sam Boyd Stadium to watch a football game.

Top Sam Boyd Stadium Crowds
44,615 - 2006, Las Vegas Bowl (BYU vs. Oregon)
42,075 - 2002, Wisconsin at UNLV
41,238 - 1996, WAC Championship Game (BYU vs. Wyoming)
40,712 - 2007, Las Vegas Bowl (BYU vs. UCLA)

-BYU wide receiver Austin Collie was named the Rossi Ralenkotter MVP, hauling in six passes for 107 yards and a touchdown with a long reception of 37. The sophomore also returned three kicks for 88 yards for an average of 29.3.

-UCLA place-kicker Kai Forbath set a Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl record with a 52-yard field goal in the second quarter. It broke the previous record of 49 yards, set by Nate Fiske of UCLA in the 2002 bowl against New Mexico. Forbath later added a 50-yard kick in the fourth quarter, which is the second-longest kick in bowl history.

-BYU was the first team to play in three consecutive Pioneer Las Vegas Bowls. The Cougars join UNLV (2-0) and Utah (2-0) for the most overall victories in the bowl's history.

-The game ended when BYU defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna blocked a 28-yard field goal attempt by Forbath as time expired, sealing the Cougars' 17-16 victory.

-On the evening Forbath hit three field goals (22, 52, 50), which tied the all-time bowl record. Forbath is now tied with Damon Shea of Nevada, who made three field goals in 1995 against Toledo.

-Tonight's final score of 17-16 was the third time the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl was decided by just one point. Bowling Green defeated Nevada, 35-34, in the inaugural game in 1992, and Utah defeated Fresno State, 17-16, in 1999.

-The 33 points was the lowest-scoring game since 2001, when Utah defeated USC 10-6.

-Schools now in the Mountain West are 7-5 all-time in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, including an impressive 6-3 since splitting from the WAC in 1999. The Pac-10 dropped to 4-4 all-time in the game.

-The victory snapped BYU's seven-game losing streak to UCLA, and it was the Cougars' first win against the Bruins since 1983.

-Tonight's game marked the second time that BYU and UCLA played in a bowl game, as the Bruins beat the Cougars in the 1986 Freedom Bowl, 31-10.

-BYU has now won two straight bowls after losing four straight and has an overall bowl record of 9-16-1.

-BYU's all-time record at Sam Boyd Stadium is now 10-2, including 7-0 all-time against UNLV, 2-1 in the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl and 1-1 in the WAC Championship.

-UCLA's overall bowl record now sits at 13-15-1 and is now 1-2 all-time in Pioneer Las Vegas Bowls.

-It was the third rematch in Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl history and it marked the second time that a team avenged a regular-season loss. UNLV beat Central Michigan, 52-24, in 1994 after previously losing to the Chippewas.

-UCLA defensive lineman Bruce Davis recorded 2.5 sacks on the evening, second most all-time behind Mike Crawford of Nevada, who had three against Ball State in 1996.

-BYU linebacker Kelly Poppinga tied for the third-most tackles in a game with 13. UCLA linebacker Kyle Bosworth tied for the fifth-most with 12 takedowns.

-BYU won despite finishing with the third-least net rushing yards in bowl history with 34.

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl Game Quotes



I know when we got together two or three weeks ago, one thing we talked about was just trying to get the fans a great game, and these players and coaches worked - no coach was worried about jobs; players, they didn't worry about the new head coach.

All we wanted to do was just work and play a respectable game. We wanted to win the game, we fell a little short. But I am proud of these guys.

I'm proud of all the players and all the coaches. I just wish we could have sent the seniors off with a victory. I am going to continue to encourage the seniors to keep their heads up, they played their butts off, they kept this football team together - they kept the coaches together. This is very special moment for me.

Life is full of adversity, and I think adversity builds character. And I think this football team, whoever the head coach, (he's) going to inherit a bunch of good guys and they're going to win some football games like they're supposed to.

They have a very, very good offense and they play with a lot of confidence.

Defensively, 17 points in the first half is a little bit too many points to be honest with you. We thought that we had to keep them to 10 points to win the game honestly, and forced to shut these guys out in the second half, I think you've got to give these defensive players credit.

We were down, and Bethel is a better thrower. We felt like we need to get some first downs throwing the ball versus running; even though Markey had a heckuva game, but we felt like we needed a combination of being able to run and we had to throw the ball a little bit too.

It was a great experience for me and these players they bought into what I tried to bring to the table, we had a lot of closed door meeting and a lot of lessons; and not only the players, but the coaches bought into it because they backed me and I just feel like we had the right chemistry.

Right now I am not worried about (the future), I just want to enjoy these players and the coaches tonight a little bit. The rest will take care of itself.

This was my last game of the season, and that's all the motivation I needed. I had the mindset coming in that I was going to put this offense on my shoulders.

I've enjoyed my time at UCLA, I think I've had a wonderful career, I've enjoyed my time here and I'm sad to be leaving the guys here.

I definitely think we did our job, I mean we didn't want to give up 17 points but they made some plays early in the game. But in the second half to give up no points, I think we did a great job.

ON LOSING - I mean it's rough, you battle an entire game and we get our last drive and we get in field goal position and just knowing we're going to win the game and they block a field goal - it's tough, it's really tough, especially for seniors playing our last game. But that's football.

ON INTERIM SITUATION - Being with Coach Walker for two years, we as a defense know what to expect so it wasn't really a big change for us, and it wasn't really a big change for the offense.

It was more a thing that we were going to come out and work for whoever was our head coach. We can't control whose going to be the next head coach, but the one thing we do control on this football team - and everybody loves it - is when we get the chance to strap up on Saturdays, we're going to bring our all.

BYU Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl Postgame Quotes

BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall Opening Statement
I give UCLA and Coach (DeWayne) Walker credit. Their team (UCLA) played extremely hard for them. I think they showed a lot of resolve and determination and a lot of fight throughout the whole game. They deserve a lot of credit. From our perspective our seniors and the leadership that we have, including the very last play (blocked field goal) and their look of determination as I called them up before they went out there to block the kick. They trust one another and believe in one another and this is their program. I couldn't think of a more fitting way or fitting play to show maybe the resolve and determination of this team. Both these young men (BYU quarterback Max Hall and wide receiver Austin Collie) sitting on the side of me reflect the future of the program. When you consider that they are just sophomores, it's been remarkable what they have accomplished, as well.

Mendenhall on UCLA's second-half defense
I think they did a nice job the entire game and not necessarily in the second half. UCLA does a nice job with scheme in terms of pressure in terms of match coverage in terms of different front looks. They have fast hard working players. It's a benchmark for us to play against that kind of speed and athleticism. I certainly don't think you saw us back down and I certainly don't think recoil. We fought as hard as we could and it was good enough to win the game, which is the bottom line.

Mendenhall on the decision not to take a knee to end the first half
You know I didn't consult with Coach (Robert) Anae (BYU's offensive coordinator), but I trust him completely. And I'll defend the call. It's easy right now to say we should have taken a knee. We trust Harvey (Unga). He's someone that has given us tremendous production the entire year. It's easy to say now that we should have taken a knee and that we would do it next time. Coach Anae came up to me and acknowledged that, but I'm not going to second guess coaches. My job is to trust them. And I do. And it was still good enough for us to win the game. It made it closer than we needed to. And we learned as a program because of that play. And that's a valuable thing.

Mendenhall on the last play of the game
What I saw was an incredible surge. We sent all 11, which is a desperation block. They looked at each other before they went back out and I think a couple of them thought they would be the ones to get it. It appears we got pressure inside. The edges were collapsing. I saw enough of the tip to see it spiraling, but then I didn't know if it was going to be enough. It was close to the cross bar and I didn't know if it went through or not. It will be a great play to use as an example for our program for a long time. Because it was a play of will.

Mendenhall on the courage and determination of his team
On any given night you are never are quite sure. If you look at the Utah game (a BYU 17-10 win on Nov. 24, 2007) the defense played very well. If you look at the San Diego State game (a BYU 48-27 win on Dec. 1, 2007) the offense did a very nice job. Tonight, it was a mix. But we did what we have to do. The good team that win 11 games in two years straight find a way for someone to step up when they need to make a play. It is a collective. It isn't one side or the other. These guys are BYU players first and they love and support one another. That's what our culture is.

Mendenhall on the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl
I don't know if there is another bowl game in the country that is like this, where a team has been back three-consecutive years and sells it out with most of the fans being from one side. I think our fans are passionate about the direction of the program not only on the field, but off the field they wouldn't come. They wouldn't come a few years ago like that, but we had the first time in 15 years that we had every home game sold out. And now they're following us wherever we go and selling it out. I think you re-link tradition and legacy to what they once were.

BYU Quarterback Max Hall on UCLA taking away the running game
It matters a lot. When your running game isn't working out there is a lot more pressure on the pass game. My credit goes to UCLA. It was the toughest defense that we faced all year. It's the best defense that I've faced in my career. My hat just goes off to them and to how hard they play and to put pressure on me and to do well against the run.

Hall on the field goal block
I had a lot of emotions running through me. It was a calm emotion, but at the same time I was kind of anxious to see what was going to happen. Kind of like Coach Mendenhall said, we have all the confidence in the world in our guys. For the game to end on a play like that, with that kind of surge and that kind of effort is unbelievable. It speaks a lot about our program and where we are going and the type of players that we have here. Like you said, I don't think we could have gone out on a better play. I just think it was awesome for our seniors to end their season and careers like that.