No. 23 Utah 17, BYU 16
Brandon Burton’s hands were stinging. In this case, the pain was
”Coach told me I needed to block that kick,” the Utah junior
said of what would have been a last-second, game-winning field goal
Saturday by rival BYU.
Burton obliged, coming around left end to knock down a 42-yard
attempt by Mitch Payne to preserve a wild 17-16 victory for the
23rd-ranked Utes in their final game with the Cougars as Mountain
West Conference rivals.
”I came full speed and laid out. I got all of it,” Burton
The full impact of what he had just done hit him a few seconds
later when thousands of red-clad Utah fans swarmed the field and
piled on Burton in celebration of the come-from-behind victory –
one that could send the 10-2 Utes (7-1 Mountain West) to the Armed
Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas.
”We’re a comeback squad,” Burton said of Utah, which started
the season 8-0 and climbed as high as No. 6 in the national
rankings before back-to-back losses to TCU and Notre Dame. ”We
never give up. This team has so much fight.”
Utah, which will join the Pac-12 Conference next year, showed it
a week ago when it rallied from a 20-3 second-quarter deficit to
beat San Diego State 38-34.
On Saturday, the Utes were down 13-0, with their starting
quarterback on the bench, and their running game in the tank.
Jordan Wynn, who took a pounding as a freshman starter last year
in the 26-23 overtime loss to BYU in Provo, got a second
Actually, he’d get third and fourth chances.
He was reinserted in the game after Terrance Cain threw his
second interception in as many possessions after taking over in the
Wynn completed a critical third-and-10 pass from the BYU 34 to
set up Joe Phillips’ 40-yard field goal on the first play of the
Then, when BYU counterpart Jake Heaps fumbled a handoff a minute
later, Utah was back in the game.
Wynn struck immediately, passing 37 yards to DeVonte
Christopher, who made an acrobatic catch in the end zone to pull
Utah within 13-10 with 13:46 remaining.
”I wasn’t playing well and the coaches need to do what they had
to do,” Wynn said. ”But it definitely motivated me and gave me an
extra push and I played much better when I went back in
Payne kicked his third field goal with 7:38 remaining to bump
BYU’s lead to 16-10.
After that, nothing went according to script.
The ball bounced Utah’s way twice more, first when a shanked
punt hit the leg of a BYU player and Greg Bird recovered for Utah
with 6:24 left, and a second time after Wynn was intercepted by
Tight end Kendrick Moeai tackled Bradley during his return and
forced a fumble. Utah got it back.
”That play defines our team,” Moeai said. ”We have
determination to get things done however we can. We did not want to
be upset today.”
Wynn (13 of 30 for 199 yards) completed a 6-yard pass to Matt
Asiata on the next play, then found tight end Dallin Rogers open
down the middle for a 29-yard gain to the BYU 3.
Asiata, who had only three carries for seven yards in the first
half and finished with 24, took it in from there on a a pitch right
and cut back.
BYU, which will become an independent in football and join the
West Coast Conference in other sports starting next year, had one
Heaps (22 of 37 for 228 yards), who has made steady progress
through the year despite his youth, had the Cougars on the verge of
He completed 4 of 4 passes for 50 yards, driving the Cougars
from his own 21 to the Utah 22, to put Payne in position with 4
”It was a dream,” Payne said. ”That’s something I’ve wanted
my whole life. I just wish I could have seen the ball sail through
It wasn’t meant to be, much to the delight of the sellout crowd
of 45,272 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
”It was a hard-fought game that came down to the last play and
we just couldn’t make it happen,” said BYU coach Bronco
Mendenhall, who had been 48-1 when taking a lead into the fourth
”There were a lot of mistakes on our side but I have to credit
There were seven turnovers in the game, including three lost
fumbles by BYU.
That both teams finished just three yards apart in total offense
(296-293 for Utah) showed how tight this rivalry has been over the
years. They had split the previous 10 meetings.
”The last 10-12 years, half of these games have come down to
the last play or one critical play at the end to determine the
outcome,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who played linebacker
at BYU. ”Business as usual in this series.”
It didn’t mean that he wasn’t nervous as BYU lined up for the
last field goal.
”I was just standing on the sidelines rubbing my lucky dimes
together,” Whittingham said. ”But then it was elation and I
breathed a sigh of relief.”
BYU had won three of the last four heading into Saturday. But
Utah was sending off 18 seniors – the winningest class in school
”It’s a fitting end to their careers here,” Whittingham