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Dallas • BYU receiver Cody Hoffman clutched the MVP trophy with both hands Friday as if he was securing a game-winning pass.
In other words, no one was going to get that trophy from him.
Hoffman earned MVP honors in the Cougars' 24-21 win over Tulsa in the Armed Forces Bowl after catching eight passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns.
His last catch came with just 11 seconds remaining when quarterback Riley Nelson found him in the front corner of the end zone for a 2-yard play that won the game for the Cougars.
Hoffman, who also scored on 17-yard and 30-yard pass plays, said he expected Nelson to find him on the play.
"Riley and I have a lot of chemistry; I think it starts with us living together last year," he said. "He knows what we want to do and he got out of the pocket and it was anyone's fair game, and he found me."
As dramatic as the play looked and as spontaneous as it was with Nelson calling it on his own, Hoffman downplayed his own role in the play.
"It was just a fade route and the DB overplayed it," he said. "But it felt great to stand there looking at the clock with just a few seconds left and us with the lead."
Note to any teams that might play the Cougars and Hoffman in future bowl games: You'd better mark him. Performances like Friday's are turning into a habit for the sophomore.
A year ago, Hoffman had eight catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns in the Cougars' 52-24 win over UTEP. Quarterback Jake Heaps was awarded the MVP trophy instead of Hoffman, but there was no denying Hoffman earned it Friday.
He had five catches for 77 yards in the second half, including the 30-yarder that gave BYU a 17-14 lead with 1:34 remaining in the third quarter.
He did a great job selling the last play, too, Nelson said.
"He wasn't in a receiver's stance at all, and that made the corner relax, and Cody took off and the corner sprinted so he wouldn't get beat on the ball, but I had Cody's eyes and he made a great play," Nelson said. "This ballgame would be a different story if it weren't for him and his tough play."
The victory was Hoffman's fifth 100-yard game this year. He couldn't have asked for a better way to end the season, he said.
"We were down a little at halftime but that wasn't the first time that has happened to us and we knew what we needed to do," he said. "We needed to capitalize on mistakes and come out strong. It was similar to the Utah State game when we needed a touchdown to win and we had great composure and faith in one another and we scored and came out on top."
Cody Hoffman's 100-yard games
Opp Rec Yds TDs
Utah 8 138 0
Oregon St. 9 162 1
TCU 6 114 2
Hawaii 7 123 1
Tulsa 8 122 3