San Diego • If not for BYU's defense, Cougar receiver Cody Hoffman's Poinsettia Bowl performance might be remembered mostly for a pass that got away from him.
As it turned out Thursday night, Hoffman happily cradled another individual trophy from a bowl game after the Cougars' 23-6 victory over San Diego State. The pass that bounced off his hands and into the arms of an Aztec defender early in the fourth quarter would not haunt him, because BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy delivered a go-ahead touchdown on the next play.
On third-and-goal from the SDSU 4-yard line with BYU trailing 6-3, quarterback James Lark's pass was slightly behind Hoffman, who could not make the catch. SDSU's King Holder came up with the interception, but the turnover did no harm.
"It's frustrating," Hoffman said. "It almost killed [BYU] a little bit, but the defense stepped it up and picked it up where we left off."
While that play prevented him from scoring a touchdown in a third straight bowl game, Hoffman added to his storied December history. He caught 10 passes for 114 yards and was named the Most Valuable Offensive Player of a bowl game for the second year in a row. In three bowl appearances, the junior who's considering entering the NFL Draft has posted a total of 26 receptions for 373 yards and six touchdowns.
He earned individual honors in last December's Armed Forces Bowl against Tulsa and probably deserved an award in the 2010 New Mexico Bowl against Texas-El Paso, but it went to quarterback Jake Heaps.
Catching passes from a third different quarterback in his third bowl game, Hoffman made two receptions that resulted in first downs on BYU's best drive of the night, resulting in a field goal to end the first half.
This was not quite like the five-touchdown game that Hoffman and Lark produced in the regular-season finale at New Mexico State, but his 10 catches came against a much better SDSU defense.
"He has faith in me and I've got faith in him," Hoffman said, "and he knows where I'm going to be."
Hoffman's bowl statistics:
Year Bowl Opp. Rec Yds TD
2010 New Mexico UTEP 8 137 3
2011 Armed Forces Tulsa 8 122 3
2012 Poinsettia San Diego St. 10 114 0