Madison, Wis. • The play was called “Bucky,” for obvious reasons.
It was used to stun No. 6 Wisconsin when most experts and prognosticators believed the Badgers would crush BYU as they did last year in Provo.
Instead, the Cougars got some much-needed momentum and confidence from a 31-yard touchdown pass from receiver Aleva Hifo to tight end Moroni Laulu-Pututau and went on to take a 24-21 win at Camp Randall Stadium Saturday afternoon.
“We schemed that play on Monday,” said Hifo, who accounted for 45 rushing yards, 32 receiving yards and, of course, 31 passing yards. “The name of the play was called Bucky. And that’s their mascot.”
Hifo said when the play came in from the sideline with just more than 12 minutes remaining in the second quarter and the scored knotted at 7-7, he knew it would work.
“Right when I caught the ball, I saw Moroni running free. So that worked out pretty well. That is all credit to the coaches for seeing something like that, and putting it in, and trusting us to run it.”
A week after some of his play-calling was questioned in the 21-18 loss to Cal, first-year offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes devised an attack that had the Badgers on their heels most of the game.
Tanner Mangum, who threw the backward pass to Hifo that caught the Badgers off-guard, threw for just 89 yards and no touchdowns. But he was content to hand off to Squally Canada (11 rushes, 118 yards, two touchdowns) and a plethora of receivers on the jet sweep that somehow surprised Wisconsin.
“From the moment the game ended last week, we knew we had to get back to work, take it one day at a time,” Mangum said. “We weren’t going to let last week’s game carry over to this week. We worked every day to win this fistfight.”
Mangum said he told Hifo, “Man, I have to watch out for my spot.”
Hifo said it was a perfect spiral.
“I told Tanner I am coming for his job,” he said. “It was good. I am 1 for 1 right now.”
Both players said a key was that Laulu-Pututau sold it so well at the line of scrimmage.
“We told him to make sure he was looking like he was blocking,” Hifo said. “All week, Moroni was a bad actor, so we weren’t sure how it was going to work out. It worked out pretty well for us.”
Laulu-Pututau finished with three catches for 33 yards and Dylan Collie, Gunner Romney and Hifo also had multiple catches. Sophomore Matt Bushman, a freshman All-American last year, played sparingly and was never targeted.
Freshman tight end Dallin Holker was involved in a play that would have gone for a 36-yard gain to the Wisconsin 3, but after ruling it a catch on the field, officials reversed their call upon replay. That could have been a game-changer, because Skyler Southam missed a 52-yard field goal attempt a few plays later, and Wisconsin drove 65 yards for a score to tie it at 14-14 just before halftime.
“More than anything, I am just pleased with how mentally strong they were throughout this game,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “They kept believing. They kept competing and it just worked out in our favor. Happy to have the win.”
BYU junior receiver Aleva Hifo’s big day
• Throws a 31-yard touchdown pass to Moroni Laulu-Pututau.
• Carries the ball five times for 45 yards, with a long of 19.
• Catches three passes for 32 yards, with a long of 18.