It was sloppy, messy, gritty, hard-fought, and dramatic—your typical Utah vs. Brigham Young matchup—and the Utes came out victorious over their foes from the south for the sixth consecutive time.
SALT LAKE CITY—It was sloppy, messy, gritty, hard-fought, and dramatic—your typical Utah vs. Brigham Young matchup—and the Utes came out victorious over their foes from the south for the sixth consecutive time.
Former BYU fullback, Utah defensive coordinator, and new BYU Cougars (1-1) head coach Kalani Sitake saw his team come within one point of his former team as quarterback Taysom Hill scrambled into the south endzone of Rice-Eccles Stadium for a late touchdown.
Does Sitake opt to tie the game up with an extra point and try his chances in overtime? Or does he gamble to get the shocking win in Salt Lake by trying a two-point conversion with only 18 seconds left?
After a timeout, Sitake opted to try for two.
Hill received the snap, and was met near the line of scrimmage by Hunter Dimick, Sunia Tauteoli, and several all-red jerseys. When Hill finally fell to the turf, the student section and all wearing crimson exploded with joy, having beaten their rivals once again.
“I would have done the exact same thing if I was in his shoes at the end,” said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. “You’re a first year coach with a chance to win the game on the spot. I think he made exactly the right call.”
Right or not, Utah (2-0) emerged with a 20-19 victory.
It was a typical, but no less tense, dramatic Holy War ending that will be remembered for years to come. The conversion attempt came after the Cougars drove down the field for a 75-yard, 13-play drive ending in Hill’s touchdown run.
Preceding that drive, Utah put together a 19-play, 78-yard drive that ate over eleven minutes on the clock, ending with a 29-yard Andy Phillips field goal to put Utah up seven.
Before those two drives was absolute chaos.
The Utes opened up the game with a interception by Tauteoli, returned for a touchdown, reminiscent of the 2015 Las Vegas Bowl. In Utah’s first offensive possession, they turned it over. In fact, they turned the ball over in four of their first five possessions, and six times overall. Troy Williams threw his first three interceptions of the season, Joe Williams lost a fumble in the first half (for which he was benched until after halftime), as did Raelon Singleton, and returner Boobie Hobbs muffed a punt that was picked up by the Cougars.
It wasn’t much better for BYU, though, as Hill dished out three interceptions of his own.
Two BYU defenders were ejected in consecutive plays in the third quarter. Kai Nacua nailed Utes freshman receiver Demari Simpkins, and was disqualified after a controversial review. Sitake, irate and shouting at officials over the dismissal, picked up a personal foul penalty of his own.
On the ensuing play, Troy Williams aimed for Troy McCormick down the left sideline, but Francis Bernard stretched out his hand and nabbed the ball first for an interception. A moment later, McCormick was struck in the head by Austin McChesney. After a brief review, the freshman safety McChesney was ejected, holding both hands out in a “Y” shape as he received boos from the crowd while exiting the field.
The last time the Utes beat BYU six consecutive games was between 1959-1964.
Utah next will face the San Jose State Spartans next Saturday on the West Coast before beginning Pac-12 play. BYU will host the UCLA Bruins in Provo the same day.
Kyle Whittingham Postgame:
Zack Moss, Tim Patrick, Troy Williams, Hunter Dimick, Sunia Tauteoli Postgame:
Kalani Sitake Postgame:
Taysom Hill Postgame:
Kyle Whittingham on the Utah Sports Radio Network Postgame:
Troy Williams on the Utah Sports Radio Network Postgame:
Hunter Dimick on the Utah Sports Radio Network Postgame:
Sunia Tauteoli on the Utah Sports Radio Network Postgame:
Joe Williams on the Utah Sports Radio Network Postgame:
Highlights on the Utah Sports Radio Network:
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