SALT LAKE CITY – It was another rivalry classic. BYU went ahead 20-0 in the first half, but Utah battled…
SALT LAKE CITY – It was another rivalry classic.
BYU went ahead 20-0 in the first half, but Utah battled back, made a game of it, and held on the edge of the Cougars, 35-27 late Saturday night.
But calling it the eighth straight draw for BYU (6-6) – or the eighth straight win for Utah (9-3) – does not do justice to the announced crowd of 46,017 at Rice -Eccles Stadium, or thousands more watching at home. Saturday night was a grind, a battle, another moment in the rivalry series that nears its 100th episode that will not be forgotten for long.
“It hurts, and it’s supposed to hurt, and that’s OK,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “We have another game to prepare for.”
Eleven of the past 1
3 rivalry games have come
Here are three things that the Cougars can take away from another loss in the series – and none of them are moral victories.
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (11) pitches the ball as the rush movies on him as BYU and Utah play at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. Utah won 35-27. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, KSL)
Zach Wilson hit Neil Pau’u with a 10-yard touchdown strike on the Cougars’ first drive of the game, but Sky laughing Southam’s extra-point attempt was tipped wide to give BYU a 6-0 lead at 10:55 left in the first quarter.
It was the first time BYU took a first quarter lead in the rivalry series since 2010, and The Cougars’ first first-quarter touchdown since John Beck started at quarterback in 2006.
Southam made up for his missed PAT after Wilson found rhythm on the next drive, going downfield and hitting Matt Bushman for a 26-yard score with 3 : 57 left in the quarter.
BYU forced three-straight three-and-outs to open the game, and outgained the Utes 153-15 in the first quarter. The Cougars went up 20-0 on Matt Hadley’s 1-yard touchdown plunge in the final minute of the half, taking a 20-point lead on the Utes for the first time since 1996.
It was everything BYU wanted in a start , scoring touchdowns on three of its first seven possessions, while holding Utah to four points, a missed field goal and a fumble in the first half, giving the Cougars all the energy they needed to break a seven-game losing streak in the series.
“I think the energy was different,” Bushman said. “We had an offense, we had the defense, not knowing where to line up or what to do. We came out with energy, we came out with fight, and we were playing hard-nosed football. We were getting a push on the offensive line; we just need to keep that up through the fourth quarter. “
But midway through the third quarter, BYU started to run out of gas. Utah scored by Julian Blackmon’s pick-six on the Cougars’ first offensive series of the half, and it was off to the races.
“We did not get the push we had come out of half-time,” Bushman said in a moment of honesty. “That pick-six, we could have bounced back from it, but it took some energy out of the sideline.”
With all the advantages of the Pac-12 – bigger stage, more television money, increased revenue, higher-rated recruits – Utah trailed 20-0 at halftime, and BYU held the Utes two 86 yards of offense.
Still, Utah scored 28-unanswered points in the second half – all after running back Matt Hadley went down with an ankle injury – to pull away for the 8-point win.
Sitake does not believe in moral victories, and he’s taught his players not to believe in them either. But this team is not lost in the college football arms race, if Saturday’s result is any indicator.
Just a true freshman, Wilson scrambled for a game-high 73 yards – even while taking three sacks – and Hadley had 64 yards and two scores on the ground. Utah’s rushing trio of Jason Shelley, Armand Shyne and TJ Green averaged just 3.52 yards per carry through three quarters, and finished with 155 yards on the ground – edging BYU’s 153, as Hadley missed the fourth quarter.
The former Corner Canyon standout completed 20-of-29 passes for 204 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and ran for a game-high 73 yards.
“Zach’s a warrior,” wide receiver Micah Simon said. “The way he prepares, the Way he takes coaching and applies different things. He’s got a really bright future, and I’m really excited for him. “
Wilson has three more years worth of rivalry games. Lopini Katoa, the Cougars’ lead running back who missed the regular-season final with an injury, does as well. So, too, do four of five offensive linemen, five of the Cougars’ eight pass-catchers, and a few key defensive players like defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga and linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi.
BYU will get better in years to come. So, too, the Utes.
But this rivalry is not going anywhere.
“I believe that our team is really close, and this just made us a closer team,” Sitake said. “We just have to keep working on it. As hard as it is right now with the outcome of this game, we are playing another game at Utah next year.
“We play them in the first game. BYU and Utah play at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo: Scott G Winterton
After the disastrous 4-9 campaign of 2017, BYU clinched bowl eligibility with last week’s 45-10 victory over New Mexico State. While the Cougars are not guaranteed a bowl game (their official bowl tie in San Diego folded before the season), there is little doubt that ESPN – which owns and operates the majority of college football bowl games, and has an exclusive broadcast deal with the Cougars – will Leave the Cougars in the cold.
The Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas only has one conference tie-in, the American Athletic Conference, and several other bowl games will probably be left without conference tie-ins due to an insufficient number of teams that qualified for the 6-6 benchmark.
“We’ve got a.” So, it’s not a guarantee that BYU will play in the postseason, the bigger question is not if, but when the Cougars will play. lot of young talent, “said linebacker Sione Takitaki, who had a game-high 13 tackles and three tackles for loss. “I’m a senior, but I feel comfortable with all the young talent we’ve got. Det er godt å se dem tidlig i deres karriere.