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Jim McMahon, Clay Brown Unexpectedly Meet Up On 40th Anniversary Of BYU’s ‘Miracle Bowl’

Dec 20, 2020, 5:22 PM
Jim McMahon - Clay Brown - BYU Football...
BYU football legends Jim McMahon and Clay Brown during the 1980 Holiday Bowl. (BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick)
(BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick)

PROVO, Utah – Forty years ago, BYU legend Jim McMahon connected with Clay Brown on a hail mary in the 1980 Holiday Bowl. The win is one of the greatest comebacks in college football history.

Jim McMahon leading BYU back over the Mustangs was the first-ever bowl victory for BYU, and it cemented the legacies of the punky QB known as McMahon and his top target in Clay Brown.

During the 40th anniversary of the “Miracle Bowl,” McMahon was vacationing in Cabo for the holidays, and he ran into none other than Brown himself.

“Of all the people I could bump into on the anniversary of the Miracle Bowl, I see my buddy who caught the ball! Clay Brown happened to be here in Cabo,” tweeted McMahon.

That’s pretty remarkable. What are the chances? It almost would seem as unlikely as coming back from 20 points down with less than four minutes in regulation. But we all know how that played out.

Jim McMahon shares memories of 1980 Holiday Bowl

McMahon revisited some of his memories from that unforgettable night in San Diego with KSL Sports. The final play that was a hail mary to Brow was called “save the game.”

“The ball came down probably about halfway, five yards deep in the end zone, and Clay went up, and he was probably the guy that jumped the least amount off the ground but the only guy to touch that football,” Jim McMahon said. “Then Clay goes, once I had my hands on it, at the bottom of that pile, they were ripping and grabbing and poking his eyes. He was not going to let that ball go. Then you know, Kurt Gunther came in and kicked the extra point, and we win.”

After their careers at BYU, both McMahon and Brown had careers in the NFL. McMahon went on to lead the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl victory in 1985. Brown played two seasons in the league after being a second-round draft pick. McMahon currently resides in Arizona.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

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