With a 17-10 victory over Utah, the Cougars claimed their second straight outright Mountain West Conference title. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
COUGAR TOWN -- Reminiscent of its' last-second victory against Utah (8-4, 5-3) in the 2006 season, No. 23 BYU (9-2, 7-0) defeated its archrival on a final drive to take a 17-10 win Saturday in front of a sellout crowd at LaVell Edwards Stadium. With the win the Cougars became the outright Mountain West Conference Champions for the second season in a row.
"I think our program is maturing, and there is less uncertainty as these situations come up," said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "There wasn't any panic; there wasn't any loss of composure. There was simply diligence about our execution."
Defeating Utah marks the first time since the 2000-2001 seasons that the Cougars have recorded back-to-back wins over their in-state rivals. It also marks their first win against Utah in Provo since 2001. BYU has now won its last eight games as well as its last 15 conference games.
Following the game, the Cougars were awarded the MWC Championship trophy as well as the Deseret First Duel trophy. BYU now leads Utah in the Duel, 16-6.
"It was a tough loss obviously, and it was tough to swallow," said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. "I don't know what to say other than I am proud of our guys. It came down to the wire just like last year, and unfortunately it went the other way."
Freshman running back Harvey Unga surpassed 1,000 yards on the season after rushing for 144 yards on 23 carries again the Utes, becoming the first freshman at BYU to reach the mark. Sophomore receiver Austin Collie caught five balls for 126 yards, including a game-saving 49-yard reception on the Cougars' final drive.
Trailing the Utes 10-9, BYU regained control of the ball on its own 20 yard line with 1:34 remaining on the game clock. Sophomore quarterback Max Hall was hit for an eight-yard loss on first down, followed by two incomplete passes to sophomore tight end Dennis Pitta, which set up a final fourth-and-18. Hall connected with Collie for a 49-yard reception, putting the Cougars on Utah's 24 yard line.
A personal foul and pass interference call against the Utes set up a first-and-10 situation for BYU. Junior running back Manase Tonga's gain of three yards was followed by Unga's 14-yard touchdown run to put the Cougars up by five points. Opting for the two-point conversion, Hall and Collie connected once again for a catch in the end zone.
"I'm really proud of our team and the way they fought back," said Mendenhall. "The fourth-and-18 of Max Hall and Austin Collie was unbelievable. I'm excited for the victory, and I am excited for the conference championship."
To begin a scoreless first quarter, the first for a BYU game this season, both teams were forced to punt on their first two possessions. The turnover battle began on Hall's intercepted pass intended for senior wide receiver Matt Allen on BYU's own 10-yard line with 9:24 remaining in the quarter.
The Utes would make it as close as the four-yard line before Brian Johnson threw an interception of his own, which senior defensive back Corby Hodgkiss returned for six yards. The pick marks BYU's ninth straight game with an interception and is Hodgkiss' second on the year.
The Cougars' attempt to put points on the scoreboard was fueled by a 44-yard run by Unga. Several carries later, Utah's Martail Burnett caused and recovered an Unga fumble. Unga's fumble was just the second lost fumble by a BYU running back on a running play in the Mendenhall era.
As the Cougars opened the second quarter of play, Hall threw a 17-yard pass to Collie with multiple defenders crowding the play. Unga surpassed the 1,000-yard mark with his seven-yard gain on a possession, which ended with a missed field goal attempt by freshman kicker Mitch Payne.
With Utah on its own 43-yard line, Johnson's pass was broken up by junior defensive back Kellen Fowler and caught by sophomore linebacker Matt Bauman, giving Bauman his first-career interception. BYU was able to capitalize on the turnover and score three points on a 22-yard field goal by Payne.
The BYU defense held the Utes to 20 yards rushing and 50 total offensive yards as the half came to a close. Utah was 0-of-6 on third-down conversions in the first two quarters.
The Utes got on the scoreboard to open the second half after a 35-yard field goal by Louie Sakoda, tying the score 3-3. In that same drive, sophomore defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen recorded his second sack of the game against Johnson, totaling a league-leading 10.5 on the season.
Payne made his second field goal of the game with 2:52 remaining in the third quarter to put the Cougars back on top 6-3.
With help from the fans, Utah was held to a three-and-out after getting called for back-to-back false-start penalties late in the quarter.
Payne came through once again with 13:48 remaining in the fourth quarter with a 35-yard field goal, increasing the Cougars' lead to 9-3.
Starting on its' own 31-yard line, the Utes put together a touchdown drive consisting of multiple rushes by Johnson. The drive was capped by a three-yard run by Utah's Darrell Mack into the end zone, the first touchdown of the game.
Up next BYU will face San Diego State on Dec. 1, a game originally scheduled earlier in the season but postponed due to the fires in San Diego, Calif. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. PT and will be televised live on the Mtn.
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
Utah 0 0 3 7 10
Brigham Young 0 3 3 11 17
2nd 04:47 BY PAYNE, Mitch 22 yd field goal, 8-36 2:55, UT 0 - BY 3
3rd 09:45 UT SAKODA, Louie 35 yd field goal, 12-47 5:15, UT 3 - BY 3
02:52 BY PAYNE, Mitch 23 yd field goal, 9-67 3:04, UT 3 - BY 6
4th 13:48 BY PAYNE, Mitch 35 yd field goal, 8-39 1:37, UT 3 - BY 9
01:34 UT MACK, Darrell 1 yd run (SAKODA, Louie kick), 15-69 7:11,
UT 10 - BY 9
00:38 BY UNGA, Harvey 11 yd run (COLLIE, Austin pass from HALL,
Max), 7-80 0:56, UT 10 - BY 17
FIRST DOWNS 14 21
RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 39-115 33-155
PASSING YDS (NET) 129 269
Passes Att-Comp-Int 29-17-2 41-17-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS 68-244 74-424
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards 1-3 1-6
Kickoff Returns-Yards 4-71 1-26
Interception Returns-Yards 1-0 2-6
Punts (Number-Avg) 7-44.9 4-40.5
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 10-94 5-48
Possession Time 31:17 28:43
Third-Down Conversions 7 of 18 5 of 17
Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 0 2 of 3
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 2-3 4-4
Sacks By: Number-Yards 1-9 3-24
RUSHING: Utah-MACK, Darrell 14-56; LOUKS, Corbin 5-28; JOHNSON, Brian 14-25;
BROOKS, Jereme 3-7; WESSON, Elijah 1-5; TEAM 1-minus 1; BROWN, Freddie 1-minus
5. Brigham Young-UNGA, Harvey 23-141; TONGA, Manase 4-19; SEMANOFF, Joe 3-10;
HALL, Max 3-minus 15.
PASSING: Utah-JOHNSON, Brian 17-29-2-129. Brigham Young-HALL, Max 17-40-1-269;
COLLIE, Austin 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Utah-GODFREY, Bradon 7-73; RICHARDS, Derre 4-42; WESSON, Elijah 2-1;
WILSON, Marquis 1-11; HERNANDEZ, Bria 1-2; BROWN, Freddie 1-0; ROGERS, Dallin
1-0. Brigham Young-COLLIE, Austin 5-126; PITTA, Dennis 3-35; GEORGE, Andrew
3-20; REED, Michael 2-26; ALLEN, Matt 2-22; UNGA, Harvey 1-27; TONGA, Manase
INTERCEPTIONS: UT-JIANNONI, Joe 1-0. BY-BAUMAN, Matt 1-3; HODGKISS,Corby 1-3.
FUMBLES: Utah-None. Brigham Young-HALL, Max 1-0; UNGA, Harvey 1-1.
SACKS (UA-A): UT-GAISON, Kepa 1-0. BY-JORGENSEN, Jan 2-0; KEHL,Bryan 1-0.
TACKLES (UA-A): Utah-JOHNSON, Robert 6-6; JIANNONI, Joe 4-3; SYLVESTER, Stev
1-5; MISI, Koa 1-4; STANFORD, R.J. 4-0; GAISON, Kepa 3-0; OLEVAO, Loma 2-1;
TATE, Steve 1-2; KRUGER, Paul 1-1; BURNETT, Martai 1-1; LONG, Gabe 0-2; TEAM
1-0; SAMPSON, Colt 1-0; ELDRIDGE, Zac 1-0; ELIAPO, Kenape 1-0; SMITH, Sean 1-0;
DALE, Joe 1-0; COLE, Terrell 1-0; JONES, Justin 0-1; SUTERA, Casey 0-1; WRIGHT,
Mike 0-1. Brigham Young-POPPINGA, Kelly 2-10; CRIDDLE, Ben 4-5; FOWLER, Kellen
4-4; KEHL, Bryan 4-3; BAUMAN, Matt 4-2; BOLDEN, Chris 3-2; JORGENSEN, Jan 3-2;
NIXON, David 3-1; HODGKISS, Corby 3-0; DENNEY, Brett 1-2; DULAN, Ian 1-1;
NELSON, Grant 0-2; HOOKS, Terrance 0-2; DOMAN, Shaun 0-2; SULLIVAN, Sean 1-0;
TAYLOR, Isaac 0-1; JORGENSEN, Aste 0-1; FOKETI, Mosese 0-1; WHITE, Reed 0-1.