Marcus Mathews’ first college career touchdown came in dramatic fashion, happening with 11 seconds left in the Utah State game to give BYU the win. It’s one he’ll remember probably for the rest of his life.
“It’s my first touchdown since ’07,” said Mathews. “That’s a long time without scoring. I mean, it’s been four years since I’ve scored a touchdown and it feels really good. It was also the first touchdown by our tight ends in two years.”
His dramatic touchdown meant more than just catching the game-winning pass.
“It felt good to beat Utah State and that was a game I had circled,” Mathews said. “It felt good to do it against them for a few reasons. One was because of last year. I felt our game against them last year was the game where we truly underachieved.
“That game against Utah State was the hardest game for me to take last year, even more so than Utah, because I didn’t really play that much in that game. Since then, the Utah State game was circled for me.”
The winning score capped off a dramatic 96-yard drive for BYU. Riley Nelson’s touchdown pass, of course, wasn’t even intended for Mathews.
“When I saw that it was thrown I thought, ‘Okay, here we go J.J. [Di Luigi], make a play!’” said Mathews.
But the ball was tipped up in the air and into Mathews’ path as he ran backside drag route.
“It then gets tipped up, and usually when the ball gets tipped it usually goes straight down, but the ball went up,” Mathews said. “I just took like three steps over and instincts just took over. When the ball hit my hands I didn’t even feel it when I caught it. When the ball hit my hands I just raised it up in the air because I knew I had it. It just felt like I didn’t even catch it, everything happened so quickly.”
With his reunion with Utah State circled on his calendar, Mathews had a lot of personal reasons for wanting to beat the Aggies.
“My grandma and grandpa have season tickets up there,” Mathews said. “A lot of my family went to Utah State, and so they’re all really big fans. Not to rub it in their faces, but it’s always been like that closeness. All my family lives in Logan, so it’s just like a close-to-home thing living in Logan all this time.”
Mathews’ Aggie grandparents were in LaVell Edwards Stadium and watched as Nelson’s pass was tipped in the air and caught by their grandson, securing the Cougar win.
After the game, Mathews was able to visit with them.
“Well, my grandmother gave me that look at first,” Mathews said with a laugh. “She’s about 5-foot-nothing, and kind of looked up at me with those eyes. Then she gave me a hug of course. She was really happy for me.”
Though they support the Aggies, Mathew’s grandparents are also loyal to him and have BYU tickets as well.
“They are double season ticket holders now,” Mathews said. “I'm sure at the beginning of the game my grandfather had his Utah State hat on, but he probably switched that after the game. They were there for the game and of course they were happy for me when I caught that winning pass. They’re Utah State fans but they’re BYU fans now as well.”
Helping lift the Cougars up over the Aggie defense for the win made Mathews’ first touchdown catch even sweeter.
“There were a lot of factors of why this game was important to me,” Mathews said. “It was a good win for us because of what happened to us last year, because I’ve gotten limited time, and my family went to Utah State, so I know a lot about it. Also, how well Utah State has been playing this year and they’re much improved, so that was cool.
“Also, just how well the season has been going for the tight ends and how we keep improving every game especially from last year, so getting that touchdown, everything just culminated with that catch. There have been a couple of years of stuff, and everything just culminated with that catch.”
Before the beginning of the season, this author predicted that the tight end position would be the most improved one on the team, and, more specifically, that Mathews would be the most improved player within the Cougar offense. Well, Mathews just made a bold prediction of his own.
“We’re going to break through this week and start being the kind of offense everyone expects us to be, and the type of offense we expect us to be,” Mathews said. “I just feel it this week. I feel it from the guys and I feel it from the coaches. It’s been really good this week, man.”
Given some of the drama and swirling speculation surrounding the program since Nelson’s performance last Friday, it was refreshing to hear Mathews’ positive words and feel the confidence he exuberated.
“Yeah, it’s actually surprising the confidence that we all have,” Mathews said. “You would think there would be a little hesitancy and guys picking sides, but that’s not the case at all man. We’re on board and we’re ready to go with confidence in either [quarterback].”
So will there be more make-you-jump-out-of-your-seat type of catches to come from Mathews?
“Oh yeah, there’s much more to come,” Mathews said. “I'm not done, Austin Holt isn’t done, Richard Wilson’s not done and all the tight ends aren’t done producing. In fact, our whole team isn’t done and hasn’t even started producing.”