PROVO, Utah - Without LaVell Edwards, there almost certainly wouldn't
be a 65,000-seat stadium anywhere in Utah. It was only fitting for BYU to
rename the one that's standing after the man who built it.
Brandon Doman threw for 349 yards in his first start and Owen Pochman kicked
three field goals, including a school-record 56-yarder, as BYU beat New Mexico
37-13 on Saturday in Edwards' final home game.
It was an emotional day for BYU fans, administrators and players, with
Mormon church president Gordon Hinckley renaming Cougar Stadium as LaVell
Edwards Stadium in a pregame ceremony.
"Tonight's activities were totally a stunner for me," said Edwards,
retiring after 29 seasons. "I had no idea that was going to happen, the naming
of the stadium. It's just been a very emotional, very special evening for me."
The festivities continued with postgame fireworks. It was a fitting sendoff
for Edwards, whose wide-open passing game carried BYU to the 1984 national
title and 20 conference championships.
Edwards also oversaw the 1982 stadium expansion that boosted seating
capacity from 33,000 to 65,000. It's hard to believe school officials recently
discussed naming the field, not the stadium, after the coach.
Edwards insisted he didn't care. Although the stadium name-change has been a
hot topic recently in Utah, he was happy to be recognized.
"It's still overwhelming," Edwards said. "It's hard to even imagine. It
will sink in one of these days, but right now it's hard for me to believe."
The Cougars (5-6, 3-3 Mountain West) played with intensity, determined to
make sure Edwards won his last home game. With BYU out of bowl contention, he
ends his career next week at archrival Utah.
"We used every bit of emotion we had," said defensive end Setema Gali.
"There was no way we were going to let coach Edwards lose. If I had to play
safety, cornerback, quarterback, whatever, I was going to do it."
New Mexico (5-7, 3-4) filled a familiar role, losing to BYU for the 19th
time in the last 20 meetings. The Lobos haven't won in Provo since 1971, when
coach Rocky Long was New Mexico's quarterback.
"They got an emotional edge at the beginning. Once you get into the game,
that loses its effectiveness," Long said. "They just played a lot better than
we did. I thought they were fresh and excited. We were tired."
Doman, who began the season as the third-string quarterback, made his first
start because of injuries to Bret Engemann and Charlie Peterson. He was
21-of-35 with one interception.
"What an honor to be the quarterback when LaVell ends it," said Doman, who
grew up in Salt Lake City as a BYU fan. "They named the stadium after him and
we won convincingly. I'm honored and it was awesome."
Edwards also passed former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne for sixth place on the
NCAA's career victories list. Edwards has a record of 256-101-3, while Osborne
was 255-49-3 in 25 seasons.
The Lobos got no closer than 14-10 after Rudy Caamano threw a 48-yard TD
pass to Javier Hanson in the second quarter.
BYU led 17-10 when Pochman connected on his career-long 56-yard field goal
with one second before halftime. He pumped his fist and celebrated at midfield
after the ball sailed through the uprights with room to spare.
The BYU defense, meanwhile, swarmed to the ball to contain the Lobos, who
came in ranked 110th in the NCAA total offense statistics. New Mexico caught
plenty of bad breaks, too.
With the Cougars leading 24-13 in the third quarter, the Lobos took
possession after a punt. Two plays later, Caamano appeared to be throwing as
Gali closed in for a sack.
The ball came loose, Hans Olsen recovered for BYU and officials immediately
signaling a first down for the Cougars. Doman scored on an 8-yard scramble two
plays later, giving BYU a 34-13 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Pochman banged the ball off of New Mexico's Gary
Davis, lined up 10 yards away. It took six plays for BYU to score the game's
final points on a 32-yard field goal by Pochman.
The first game at LaVell Edwards Stadium, played with temperatures in the
upper 20s, wasn't a sellout. The attendance of 62,308 left some 2,700 seats
empty, and thousands of fans had left by halftime.