Celebrating a bowl victory is supposed to be a proud moment. Unfortunately, Memphis and BYU turned in one of the uglier postgame bowl moments seen in years. After Memphis picked off a pass from BYU quarterback Christian Stewart to seal a wild 55-48 double-overtime victory, joy quickly turned ugly as players from both teams started exchanging punches instead of postgame handshakes.
Helmets were thrown and sucker punches were seen as well. It was eerily reminiscent of another college football game played in Miami years ago between Miami and FIU.
Sadly, the events that took place after the game will stain the memory of what was a wildly entertaining bowl game. Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch passed for over 300 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for three more touchdowns, and Memphis needed every one of them. BYU’s Stewart passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns, but was picked off three times, including the game-winning play. Neither offense was able to protect the football, despite having a field day for much of the afternoon. BYU and Memphis combined for nine turnovers.
Memphis had also blown two separate double-digit leads, and BYU was unable to keep Memphis off the scoreboard in the final minute of regulation. The game was back-and-forth from start to finish, but the first Miami Beach Bowl will instead be remembered more for the unfortunate postgame scene as the teams went after each other on the field.
If you like offense, then the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl seems to have you entertained this Monday afternoon. Memphis and BYU put together a back-and-forth first quarter with over 300 yards of combined offense and 31 combined points. BYU leads Memphis at the half, 28-24.
BYU fumbled away the football on the game’s opening possession, which set Memphis up in great position at the BYU 35-yard line to open the scoring just three plays later with a Paxton Lynch touchdown pass to Keiwone Malone. BYU responded by driving 82 yards over five plays with BYU quarterback Christian Stewart tossing a 47-yard touchdown strike to Mitchell Juergens to tie things up.
We were just getting started.
Memphis went 58 yards and Lynch pushed one across the goal line from the one-yard line to regain the lead for Memphis. BYU answered, this time with Stewart connecting with Mitch Mathews for a 25-yard touchdown. Memphis later regained the lead with a 39-yard field goal from Jake Elliott. That helped give Memphis a 17-14 lead after one quarter of play.
Memphis extended the lead to 24-14 with another touchdown run by Lynch early in the second quarter, but BYU battled back. Stewart completed a pass down the right sideline to a back-peddling Jordan Leslie, who showed great concentration to grab the pass above his head and step back into the end zone with one foot before falling out of bounds. A video review upheld the touchdown, bringing BYU within three points of Memphis, 24-21.
BYU’s defense then came up with a big play on the ensuing possession by Memphis. On the second play from scrimmage, Alani Fua tipped a pass from Lynch and he kept his hands on the ball for the interception before returning the football 37 yards to set the Cougars up on offense from the Memphis 15-yard line. Paul Lasike eventually punched one in on the ground from three yards out to give BYU its first lead of the game in the final two minutes of the half, 28-24.
This could be an entertaining second half between BYU and Memphis if the offenses continue working like this.
Sure, it was just a spring scrimmage, but BYU quarterback Taysom Hill passed for three touchdowns and 307 yards Saturday in Provo. He also added 48 rushing yards on nine attempts, providing a glimpse of more of what to expect from the Cougars quarterback this fall.
Hill was locked into the starting role for BYU heading into the 2014 season, but the competition for the top back-up was settled Saturday as well. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall confirmed that job will go to senior Christian Stewart, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
“Christian Stewart is next,” Mendenhall said. “He’s a much stronger runner than thrower, currently. However, he is a capable thrower. So, for him and for me, we’re at peace and happy with where we need to be.”
BYU’s offense recorded four touchdowns and a pair of field goals during the 90-minute session. Hill led the offense for 11 out of 19 drives and completed 19 of 27 pass attempts. Nate Carter was the leading rusher with 61 yards and a touchdown. The offense was far from perfect. Jordan Egbert, DJ Doman, Garrett Jurgens, Jherremya Leuta-Douyere, and Skye PoVey all recorded sacks and the defenses forced three turnovers with a pair of fumbles and an interception.