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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Remembering the Rivalry: BYU 24, Utah 21 (2001)

What a difference a year makes. This year BYU and Utah entered this game with a 17-2 combined record, as opposed to the 11-12 combined record the year before. BYU was the nation’s highest scoring team. Brandon Doman was now 12-0 as a starter and running back Luke Staley was rewriting the BYU record books. Utah, however, kept the BYU offense contained as Utah built a 21-10 fourth quarter lead.

In danger of losing their first game of the season, the BYU offense came to life. Doman connected with Staley for a 7-yard touchdown pass with just under four minutes to play. Moments later, Staley took a pitch from Doman and raced down the sidelines untouched for a 30-yard score. Using a tackle eligible pass play, Utah made one last effort to win the game and drove the ball down to the BYU 30-yard line. Lance Rice dropped back to pass and threw a pass out to the left flat. Cornerback Jernaro Gilford, who had injured his ankle earlier in the game, stepped in front of the pass, intercepted it, and returned it 50 yards before being tackled.

The 24-21 win moved the Cougars to 11-0 on the year and clinched the schools first outright Mountain West Conference championship. Luke Staley went on to win the Doak Walker award. The win also kept the pressure on the BCS to invite BYU to one of its lucrative bowls as the Cougars moved up to number 12 in the BCS standings.

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