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The hustlingest, smartest, most creative move of the young 2021 season

BYU’s Tyler Allgeier’s game-changing chase-and-punch play against ASU is already part of BYU lore

Brigham Young quarterback Jaren Hall, right, passes the ball to running back Tyler Allgeier (25) against Arizona State.
Brigham Young quarterback Jaren Hall, right, passes the ball to running back Tyler Allgeier (25) during an NCAA college football game against Arizona State at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. Allgeier made arguably the play of the season when he forced an ASU fumble.
Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Attention, high school football coaches of America. The next time you want to give your players a pep talk about hustle and resourcefulness and never giving up and a lot of other things, just show them a video of a single play in last week’s BYU-Arizona State football game.

Show them the Tyler Allgeier Play.

It’s the best BYU football play since Kyle Morrell’s game-saving leap over Hawaii’s offensive line to tackle the quarterback before he could take a single step, propelling BYU to an unbeaten season and the 1984 national championship.

It’s the Football Play of the Year so far — the hustlingest, smartest, most creative move of the young 2021 season. It was part chase scene, part assault, in full view of a TV audience and 60,000 fans. Allgeier didn’t score a touchdown, but he certainly saved one.

He did what Don Beebe did to Leon Lett in the 1993 Super Bowl.

He did what DK Metcalf did last season while running 95 yards to track down Budda Baker after the latter intercepted a pass.

The chase-and-punch play was so good that BYU should give a hustle award to a player at the end of each season and call it the Tyler Allgeier Trophy.

It was late in the third quarter. Nationally ranked Arizona State had cut BYU’s 21-7 halftime lead to 21-17 and owned all the momentum. BYU drove to the ASU 29-yard line, where Jaren Hall, finding himself in the grasp of a defender, threw a foolish, desperate pass — right to ASU linebacker Merlin Robertson, who immediately raced toward the south end zone. He had a clear path to a touchdown.

Allgeier and Hall collided as they began to give chase, but finally Allgeier picked up speed. Seeing Robertson and Allgeier pull away, Hall backed off the pace; he wasn’t going to catch anyone, and he knew it. This turned out to be a good thing.

Allgeier spent his freshman season at linebacker before moving to running back. On a single play he used his experience from both positions. Robertson was just inside the 20-yard line when Allgeier caught him. Allgeier placed his left hand on Robertson’s left shoulder and used it to launch himself into the air, then he pulled his right arm back and threw a haymaker punch down on Robertson’s right hand, knocking the ball to the ground.

Hall, who was trailing the play, was in perfect position to recover the ball at the 15-yard line.

Afterward, Hall told the media, “(Allgeier) makes one of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen — if not the greatest play I’ve ever seen.”

Tight end Isaac Rex observed, “For someone to hustle that hard — to run all the way back when you’re dead tired, and to run for probably 60 yards and make that play for the whole team? And to have the awareness to try and get the ball out. Tyler made the game-saving play.”

“Right after the interception, (Hall) and I ended up bumping each other, so it slowed us down,” Allgeier told BYUtv. “I had to get on my horse. I felt like DK Metcalf when Russell Wilson threw the pick …. Honestly, it was like a 50-50 — just jump in the air and try to strip the ball out.”

The interception return cost the Cougars 56 yards, but at least Allgeier had prevented a touchdown that would have given ASU a 24-21 lead with a quarter to go. The Cougars got the ball back and drove deep into ASU territory again. They punted the ball to the 5-yard line. The Sun Devils subsequently fumbled and the Cougars recovered and scored to secure their third win in three games.

Immediately after the play, media and fans began calling it one of the greatest plays in BYU history. Video clips of the play on the internet have garnered tens of thousands of views. Perhaps there’s only one defensive play that ranks ahead of it — Morrell’s play in Honolulu. There’s been nothing like it in the 37 years since then until Allgeier ran down Robertson last Saturday night.