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Provo • What had more value in Brigham Young's 24-17 victory Friday night against Central Florida?
Was it Cody Hoffman's 93-yard kick return for a score in the third quarter or a UCF muff of a 67-yard punt in the fourth period by Cougar punter Riley Stephenson?
One tied the game and nullified a momentum builder, while the other ultimately led to the game-winning touchdown.
So, the answer is yes, they were equal.
"It was so sweet to the see the back of [Hoffman's] jersey running down the field," said BYU back Bryan Kariya, on the field as part of the Cougars' first kickoff return for a touchdown in 13 years. "I'm so happy for him."
Hoffman's effort created more than enough joy to spread around. But it was just part of an overall special teams effort by BYU that played a large role in determining the outcome of a game that the Cougars needed to win.
"Special teams played a huge difference in the game tonight," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Hoffman's return was an 11, especially since it came seconds after the Knights had taken a 17-10 lead with nearly five minutes remaining in the third quarter. UCF's celebration choked in their throats as Hoffman roared by the Knights sideline.
"That stings the other side," Mendenhall continued. "It's like a double whammy."
BYU noticed during film sessions that the Knights were vulnerable on kick returns. As soon as Hoffman roared by the first wave of tacklers, he had only the kicker to beat.
"Once the blocker took care of the kicker, I knew I had it," Hoffman said.
Meanwhile, Stephenson punted six times for 272 yards, often pinning UCF deep in its own territory. He can take credit for creating two situations that allowed BYU to score touchdowns.
A 35-yard punt was downed on the Knights' 5-yard line. BYU's defense held and took over on downs on UCF's 38. Four plays later J.J. DiLuigi burst into the end zone from 16 yards out.
The second, Stephenson's big bomb of a boot, forced UCF's J.J. Worton to retreat toward his own end zone. Worton made the mistake of trying to make a play, but the ball bounced off his fingertips and BYU was in business, following an unsportsmanlike penalty, on the Knights' 23.
This time it was Kariya who took it in, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 10:29 to play.
"Awesome special teams today," Stephenson said. "When I see the returner turn around I know it's been a good punt. Look what it led to."
Stephenson was going so good that his final punt, one that he shanked horribly off the side of his foot, rolled downfield for 53 big yards.
"That last one didn't look very pretty," he said. "But it got a good bounce."
So did BYU's spirits.
Special teams highlights
• Cody Hoffman's 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter was the first for BYU since Mike Rigell ran one back 96 yards in 1998.
• Riley Stephenson punted six times for a 45.3 average, including two which were downed inside the Central Florida 20-yard line.
• Hoffman compiled 153 all-purpose yards Friday, including 129 on kick returns.