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How BYU and kicker Jake Oldroyd pulled off an onside kick to surprise Houston in come-from-behind win

Texan Jake Oldroyd has an array of trick kicks, promises more if No. 12 Cougars continue to call upon him to execute one of football’s most difficult plays

SHARE How BYU and kicker Jake Oldroyd pulled off an onside kick to surprise Houston in come-from-behind win

BYU’s Jake Oldroyd kicks the football to start the team’s game against Houston at TDECU Stadium in Houston on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Oldroyd later successfully pulled off an onside kick that helped swing momentum late in the third quarter.

Jaren Wilkey, BYU photo

BYU special teams coach Ed Lamb called it a “message” to both teams that the BYU Cougars were playing to win the game. BYU kicker Jake Oldroyd called it “Chip-9,” although he won’t fully divulge where that name came from.

However it’s referenced, it worked.

Oldroyd’s onside kick, successfully “recovered” by freshman receiver Talmage Gunther — who caught the chip shot in midair — came with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter after BYU had cut Houston’s lead to 26-21 last Friday night. And although it didn’t lead to points — BYU had to punt after picking up two first downs — it flipped the field and continued the Cougars’ momentum.

“Ed (Lamb) saw something on film, and Jake Oldroyd liked it a lot, and you know me, you are going to get the green light. They wanted to do it and it was a good time to do it.” — BYU coach Kalani Sitake of the onside kick against Houston

And, as Lamb said on his Coordinators’ Corner program Monday, it injected a fresh dose of confidence into BYU’s sideline and told Houston’s sideline that the Cougars “are not going away.”

BYU’s defense held, its special teams forced a shanked punt and Zach Wilson “threw” a shovel pass to Masen Wake for an 8-yard touchdown. The blue Cougars rolled from there for a 43-26 win.

Here’s how the onside kick happened:

Oldroyd, the Texan most known until now for kicking the game-winning field goal to beat Arizona 18-16 in the 2016 opener, said the chip kickoff is “something I’ve been working on for a long time.”

Having perfected it at Southlake Carroll High School in the Dallas area, and after his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Osorno, Chile, Oldroyd told Lamb and other coaches last year it was in his arsenal.

“I have done similar things,” he said. “We have been tweaking it, getting it ready for the right time to use it.”

That time arrived Friday night in front of 10,000 or so fans at TDECU Stadium.

“We saw (on film) that the opportunity would be here in this game,” Lamb said. “Jake calls all our kickoffs. We have four or five different calls. This was one of them. We talked to the whole team about this being there before the game.”

Lamb said coaches wanted the entire team to know “because if we don’t get it, the defense needs to take the field understanding that we all agreed (that) we wanted to go for this thing. And so it was a great moment of excitement for our whole sideline and we executed it correctly and we got the momentum on it.”

Immediately after the game, head coach Kalani Sitake, who rarely meets a risk he isn’t willing to take, was totally on board.

“Ed saw something on film, and Jake Oldroyd liked it a lot, and you know me, you are going to get the green light,” Sitake said. “They wanted to do it and it was a good time to do it.”

Oldroyd wanted the chip to go about 5 yards past the mandatory 10 yards the ball must travel before the kicking team can touch it. It only went a yard or two past the line, but Gunther was there and had to the wherewithal to let it go 10 yards before snaring it.

“I was anxious,” Oldroyd said. “I was excited for the opportunity to pull it out. Give a lot of the credit to Talmage, who came up and made the play to catch it at the right distance. It felt good that the coaches and my guys on kickoff believed in me and made that play.”

Although Oldroyd is an avid golfer, he said the chip-shot technique comes from his soccer background in Texas, and not from the links.

“I am not going to give away (the reason for the name), but I can do a lot of things that are similar,” he said. “So maybe in the future we will pull a couple of them out.”

Oldroyd had to sit out of BYU’s 27-20 win over UTSA on Oct. 10 with a sore back, but he said Tuesday in a video teleconference with reporters that he’s “feeling good, feeling 100% right now” and is ready to go this Saturday against Texas State (8:15 p.m. MDT, ESPN) at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Around 6,000 spectators will be allowed to attend the game.

After struggling a bit last year — he was 16-for-24 on field goals and 40-for-41 on PATs — Oldroyd has been perfect in 2020. He’s 5-for-5 on field goals, including a 54-yarder against Troy that tied a career-high. 

“I definitely know I am capable of achieving a lot at this position and playing up to my capability,” he said. “It was frustrating at times last year. This year I have really just tried to be more consistent and mentally tough, even if things don’t happen to go my way.”

Things certainly went his way at Houston, whatever you want to call one of the most memorable onside kicks in BYU history.