BYU quarterback Max Hall gets off a pass during the first half of the Las Vegas Bowl against Oregon State on Tuesday.
LAS VEGAS -- Max Hall was getting so familiar to Las Vegas, a television commentator joked this week that he should have a showroom alongside entertainers Siegfried & Roy or Penn & Teller.
In Hall's final act for No. 15 BYU on Tuesday night, he threw three touchdown passes for his best performance yet in Sin City, leading the Cougars to a 44-20 victory over No. 16 Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
"It means a lot -- it's a special time for me," Hall said after playing in the Las Vegas Bowl for the third straight year. "It's something I'll remember for a long time."
Hall gave the Cougars their third win in five straight Las Vegas Bowl appearances and ended the Beavers' run of five consecutive bowl wins.
He completed passes to eight different receivers, and threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Luke Ashworth, a 17-yard scoring strike to Dennis Pitta and a 15-yard TD pass to Manase Tonga. He had 139 yards passing in the first half.
Tonga added an 18-yard rushing touchdown, and Harvey Unga finished with 76 yards rushing and a TD for BYU (11-2).
"We wanted to end it well," Hall said. "We want to keep getting better. We want BYU to continue to improve."
Hall, a senior, transferred to BYU from Arizona State in 2006 and sat out the season, leading the scout team. In the three years since, he amassed 11,365 yards and 94 touchdowns, second only to Ty Detmer (15,031 yards, 121 TDs in four seasons) in team history.
"If Max has to be judged by one game, it should be this one," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "My hope is that if there are comments (on Hall's performance) it ought to be on the basis of this game."
The Cougars misdirected the Oregon State defense with draws and short plays while Hall refused to be discouraged by 50 mph winds and 30-degree temperatures.
After taking a sack in the fourth quarter, Hall said he did his best to pop back up and not show any signs of weakness.
"I thought I was going to throw up," he said.
Oregon State (8-5) looked queasy from its regular season finale against Oregon, when the Beavers lost their chance at the high-profile Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
Oregon State scored on its second possession, but not again until the fourth quarter, when the game was already out of reach. Sean Canfield and Jacquizz Rodgers each found the end zone with 1-yard runs, and Damola Adeniji caught a 31-yard TD from backup quarterback Ryan Katz. Adeniji led all receivers with seven receptions for 102 yards.
"Emotionally we were ready for this game. We came in here and expected to win. It didn't work out that way," Oregon State guard Gregg Peat said. "That's a credit to BYU, they came ready to play. There are no excuses for the loss."
Oregon State also appeared flustered by the elements, with wind gusts so strong that an untouched Beavers punt flew sideways into the stands after traveling only six yards.
"We kind of pride ourselves in playing in different conditions, but there is nothing like the wind and I thought they handled it better than we did," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said.
Canfield completed only four passes in the first half as the Beavers struggled to sustain drives. He finished 20 for 41 for 173 yards and an interception.
"We hate leaving that opportunity out there," Riley said. "They controlled the ball, converted third downs and scored when they were going into that gale force, and that was very good by them."
The normally dependable Rodgers fumbled for the first time in his college career in the first quarter, on his 621st touch, and Matt Bauman returned it 34 yards for the go-ahead score. Officials used replay to see whether Canfield's toss to Rodgers was a lateral or a forward pass, and upheld the touchdown.
Oregon State finished with three turnovers, including a fumble by Rodgers' brother James.
"It took all 11 players to do what we had to do to contain those two," Mendenhall said. "If they aren't able to move the ball, they can't score enough points."
The Beavers converted once on fourth down in five tries, and was 5 for 16 on third-down conversions.
Oregon State struck first on Canfield's touchdown. The score was set up by consecutive big plays from the Rodgers brothers -- an 18-yard rush by Jacquizz on the first play of the drive and a 17-yard run by James.
BYU responded with a touchdown on its next possession, marching 84 yards on 14 plays in just under six minutes and scoring on Unga's 1-yard run.
Oregon State then looked as if it would bounce back from Jacquizz Rodgers' fumble when it seemingly recovered a muffed punt near the goal line. But a holding call forced Oregon State to punt it again, and BYU drove 69 yards and kicked a 28-yard field goal.