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If any team had something to prove, it was the University of Utah. After a despondent start by then starting quarterback Jordan Wynn, the Utes found themselves on the losing end against in-state rivals Utah State in an overtime heartbreaker.
BYU was coming off of a victory against Weber State and were nationally ranked in the AP Poll. The Cougars traveled north to take on the Utes in a hostile Salt Lake City for the Rivalry game.
Everyone was expecting a close game. No one was expecting the way it ended.
With Utah up 24-7 in the third quarter, it seemed as though victory was a far reach for BYU. But the Cougars came all the way back within three just to lose after an incomplete pass, a blocked field goal, and a missed field goal, all in the final 10 seconds of the game. Utah ended up winning the game 24-21 after the crowd stormed the field three times.
Here are the gameday grades for Utah’s position groups:
It’s hard to bounce back from a difficult loss. It’s even harder to come back from losing the starting quarterback for the rest of the season. Jon Hays was called on to be the starter for the game against BYU and was able to bounce back from both. He threw for 198 yards and had a completion percentage of 66.7 percent. He had two touchdowns and didn’t throw a single interception. Freshman Travis Wilson had a couple of plays but didn’t make much of a difference on the offensive side. Hays stepped up to the plate and delivered all game long.
RUNNING BACKS: C
John White did not play in the game due to an injury (ankle) and Utah missed his presence. Jarrell Oliver got most of the rushes in the game with a total of 11 carries and 23 yards. Utah handed the ball off to four different players throughout the game including wide receiver Dres Anderson for a total of 49 rushing yards.
Hays made a lot of friends on the football field – talk about not playing favorites. He threw to 13 different targets and distributed the ball across the field. The receivers caught two touchdowns and averaged 11 yards a catch. The receivers stayed open for Hays and caught some huge passes.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B-
Although Hays was able to pass the ball efficiently, he was pressured and tackled in the backfield too many times. The Utes were still able to hold off the defense enough to let Hays make his passes.
The offense cannot have all the credit for the final score. The defense scored a touchdown and a field goal was made as well. But the offense was still resourceful and worked with what they were given. They scored two touchdowns including a 39-yard reception by wide receiver Dres Anderson.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B
BYU quarterback Riley Nelson at one point look defeated. He had good reason to feel that way considering he had been sacked multiple times and kept getting hit. But the second half of the game was much different as the defensive line couldn’t put pressure on the quarterback anymore and allowed Nelson to bring the Cougars back within three. The defensive line couldn’t stay consistent throughout the game, but they were good enough to hold off BYU.
The linebackers didn’t have much of an impact in the game although it seemed as though that’s where Nelson was going most of the time when he passed the ball. Nelson averaged 4.9 yards for every pass.
The secondary had a huge interception that continued BYU’s downfall and, even though Nelson was able to drive them down the field, the Utes held off the Cougars early enough in the game to get the victory at the end.
It might have just been bad BYU offense but it looked like Utah had the defense it was expected to have all season. An interception by the secondary, three sacks, and a forced fumble was enough to dictate the game throughout. This defense is the real deal, and it just needs to be consistent. They fell a little behind in the fourth quarter as BYU was looking to rally but defended just enough to hold off BYU for the victory.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+
Utah was able to return the ball rather consistently throughout the game. It averaged 20.8 yards on punt returns and 16.5 yards on kickoff returns. The Utes also made a crucial 48-yard field goal, which ended up being the difference in the game. Punter Sean Sellwood punted the ball four times, including a 58-yard beast that was spotted inside the 20.
UTE FANS: A/F (depends on how you see it)
What an ending to a football game: Utah fans stormed the field when they thought time expired just to be sent back to let BYU attempt a field goal. They stormed the field again when the field goal was blocked but the ball was still live, which resulted in a “live ball foul” and a 15-yard penalty. Third time’s a charm as they stormed the field one last time when BYU punter Riley Stephenson hit the left field goal post to lose the game.
Alex Rivera is the Assistant Sports Editor of the UVU Review. You can contact him at email@example.com or through his Twitter account @A_River_Uh