The legend of Joe Critchlow has begun.

After burning his redshirt against Boise State, BYU fans have been clamoring to see what the red-headed quarterback could do. And after a month of mop-up duty and limited action, Cougar fans finally got their chance to see him play a full game as the true freshman made his first career start against UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium.

And boy did he make it count. After completing a number of passes to start, Critchlow got into a groove as the freshman completed 14-of-22 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown in the 31-21 victory over the Rebels.

“It was early in the week when coach (Ty) Detmer informed me that I would get the nod and be the starting guy,” Critchlow said. “The team as a whole really had my back. We had a great offensive plan and our defense played really well. It feels good to get a win.”

The victory was the first road win of the season and the Cougars did it by scoring the second-most points all season. Not bad for a true freshman under center.

“I thought Joe Critchlow played really well for his first start,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “He showed a lot of poise and I’m really excited about his progress that he’s made.”

“To be able to come into Vegas, on the road, get this big win and celebrate in the locker room, everyone was amped,” Critchlow added.

Sophomore receiver Micah Simon posted a video of the team’s celebratory victory dance, which included some interesting dance moves from Critchlow.

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With the victory, the red-headed quarterback became just the third true freshman quarterback to win his first start at BYU, joining the ranks of Tanner Mangum and Taysom Hill.

So how does Critchlow stack up compared to those guys in their first starts?

He’s at the top of the list. The ginger lived up to the hype as being the best passer out of all the quarterbacks who have played this year as the gunslinger completed 64 percent of his passes to put him No. 1 among all true freshman who have started their first games at BYU.

By comparison, Tanner Mangum was at the top spot at 61 percent before Critchlow took over. Hill was next in line at 57% and Jake Heaps stood at 53%.

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Making his first start, the UNLV defense made it a top priority to blitz him all night. But the freshman handled the pressure well and made great throws all night despite knowing he was going to take some hard hits.

Speaking of hard hits, Critchlow did deliver some as well. After running back Austin Kafentzis appeared to be stopped in the backfield, in the first half, the sophomore made a few guys miss before bouncing the play outside where Critchlow was. Despite all the injuries at the quarterback position this year, the freshman quarterback didn’t shy away from contact as he helped spring Kafentzis from an extra 5-6 yards.

With a great showing Friday night on top of Mangum’s season-ending Achilles injury and Hoge’s health concerns, Critchlow will look to continue making a great case as to why he should be the Cougars starting quarterback next year.

What did you think of Critchlow’s play in his first career start? Comment below.

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