Another Last-second Win Brings MWC Title
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.
Deseret First Duel Set for Saturday
"I think people from the South and from the Midwest ought to see this. This is a big-time football rivalry."
-- Bill Curry, ESPN College Football Analyst
PROVO -- Riding a seven-game overall win streak, a record 14-game Mountain West Conference win streak, and an 11-game win streak at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, the Cougars will put it all on the line Saturday against the University of Utah in the 83rd official meeting between the two in-state rivals. This year's Deseret First Duel will mark the only major college football rivalry game in the country that will pit two teams that enter the game with identical seven-game winning streaks.
"Seven consecutive wins by each program is a remarkable thing," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I think both teams are to be credited. I think the state will receive the benefit of it from a quality football game with two good teams."
One of the hottest teams in the country over the past two seasons, the 23rd ranked Cougars have won 18 of their last 20 games and enter this year's game with a record of 8-2, including a perfect 6-0 mark in league play. The Utes will travel to Provo with an 8-3 overall record and a mark of 5-2 against Mountain West opponents.
"Very few rivalries have opponents in the conference that are so close together," Mendenhall said. "Being only 40 miles from each other has the makings of all the emotion and all the things that happen outside the game. What the results have shown from previous years is that regardless of record, it could be anyone's game, which adds to the intrigue as well."
Separated by just 46.3 miles, the two schools have shared a recent tradition of the road team winning on the home team's field. The visiting team has won nine of the last 12 games, including last season's dramatic, come-from-behind, no-time-left-on-the-clock, 33-31 BYU victory in Salt Lake City. Cougar fans call it the "13-second Miracle" and often wonder, "Is Harline still open?" (Quarterback John Beck found tight end Jonny Harline wide open in the end zone with no time left on the clock to give BYU a 33-31 victory.) However, the Utes have won six of the last seven games in Provo and would like nothing more to put a blemish in the Cougars' second consecutive Mountain West Conference championship season.
"We might be a target, yet I am not sure how or why this should affect our preparation," Mendenhall said. "We will just do the best we can everyday, no matter who we are playing."
After beating Wyoming last Saturday, 35-10, BYU claimed at least a share of its second-straight MWC league title -- their 23rd overall conference championship. With a two-game lead over Air Force (9-3, 6-2) and Utah in the MWC standings, BYU needs to win one of its two remaining games to clinch the outright title for the second straight season. (BYU will play at San Diego State on Saturday, Dec. 1.)
A closely contested rivalry, four of the last eight games between BYU and Utah have been decided by just three points and six of the last seven in Provo have been decided by an average of just over four points per game.
"One year we lost to Utah in overtime and the other we won on a last-second play," Mendenhall said. "Both of the last two games have come down to the wire and maybe this one won't be any different.
"I do know that I like our team to play well at home and this week will be no different than what I have said each week to our team about the way we play in LaVell Edwards Stadium. Both teams will try all they can try and all the coaches will do everything they can to get their teams ready."
BROADCAST INFORMATION: Because Bill Curry wants you to see this ... don't miss this year's Deseret First Duel. The game will be produced by the Mtn., and broadcast nationally on CSTV, Versus and the Mtn. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. (MT) / 2 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Nov. 24.