Eight-man drops and poor BYU rushing leads Utah to victory
PROVO -- Lack of a rushing game and missed opportunities Saturday gave way to Utah defeating No. 19 BYU, 20-17, as both teams end the regular season with identical records.
Mirror images throughout most of the game, Utah's success with an eight man drop and a key third quarter answer to BYU's touchdown provided the additional difference. Each team has an 8-3 overall record and a 5-2 mark in the Mountain West Conference for a share of the league championship.
Utah limited the injury-laden Cougar rushers to 20 yards on the ground. The Utes also held BYU to a field goal off a first and goal situation in the first quarter and BYU missed other field goal attempts in the first and fourth quarters.
"Our inability to get more points in the first quarter came back to haunt us," said BYU Coach LaVell Edwards. "On that play-action pass (third quarter) we lost sight of their wide receiver."
That third-quarter touchdown from T.D. Croshaw to a wide-open Cliff Russell came on the heels of BYU's impressive 77-yard strike. The Cougars' third-quarter TD came from Kevin Feterik to Margin Hooks.
Hooks' TD came on the BYU sideline as the Cougars faced third and 10. The ailing Hooks led all receivers with seven catches for 139 yards in the game.
"I think there was a time in there when BYU had a chance to come back after they scored on that long pass to Hooks, but we came right back and answered it," said Utah Coach Ron McBride. "And our pass defense did a great job and contained the quarterback. Our secondary has been a strong point for us all year long."
Feterik was sacked four times for 43 yards as Cougar linemen couldn't hold off the Utes.
"They did a good job covering everyone and I was still getting a pass rush," said Feterik. "I felt like everyone was double-covered."
The first pair of passes in both of BYU's first two drives were complete by Feterik, who ended up throwing three interceptions and two TDs. BYU's first drive stalled and the Cougars were forced into a 26-yard field goal by Owen Pochman, his 15th consecutive of the season.
BYU's Jared Lee intercepted Croshaw's pass for a 10-yard return to the Utah 39. On the next play the favor was returned as Feterik was intercepted by Andre Dyson, his first of two
When BYU got the ball back, the Cougars lost another scoring opportunity when Pochman's 55-yard field goal was blocked. Utah tied the game in the second quarter when Cletus Truhe connected on a 30-yard attempt. Truhe added a 38-yarder with 42 seconds left in the half.
Even after Utah scored its first TD, the Cougars had another chance as Brian Gray intercepted Croshaw at the BYU 12, only to have that drive end with another of Jesse Sowards' eight punts on the day.
The Utes picked up their second interception when defensive end John Frank's pressure forced Feterik to throw early into the hands of linebacker Kautai Olevao.
Back-to-back rushes of 20 and 13 yards at the start of the fourth quarter by Mike Anderson pushed the Utes into redzone and first and goal situations. Anderson had previously been stopped many times as indicated by his 28 carries for 80 yards on the day. That series ended in a pass from Croshaw to Donny Utu for the score.
On the next series BYU drove 60 yards in 14 plays, but had to settle for a 38-yard field goal attempt by Pochman. Pochman's kick sailed close to the upright in front of the Ute fans, but was ruled wide.
BYU's defense made another stand with Justin Ena forcing a fumble on a fourth and one. The Cougars' offense drove to the endzone on the next series with a six-yard pass from Feterik to Ben Horton.
Defensive tackle Hans Olsen batted down a Croshaw pass to set up the final opportunity. Feterik was intercepted again by Dyson, this time on the Utah 42.
"We are disappointed about not winning, but credit Utah with a nice job," said Edwards.
"As a senior it hurts for me," said BYU linebacker Rob Morris. "I want another shot to go out on a winning note."