That is when things started falling apart for BYU. Wynn led Utah to a field goal his first drive back into the game. Three plays later, Jake Heaps and Joshua Quezada, both freshman, had a problem on the hand off exchange, which resulted in a fumble that Utah recovered. Utah cut the Cougars' lead to 3 on the very next play with a touchdown.
Led by Heaps, BYU maintained its composure and drove 56 yards in 15 plays, and kicked a field goal to push the lead back to six. While the field goal was nice, it looked like BYU was going to get more than that. On 3rd and 6 from the Utah 41, Heaps found McKay Jacobson alone behind the coverage for a 28-yard gain down to the Utah 13. A 12-yard sack the next play limited BYU to the three points.
The BYU defense forced Utah to punt on their next drive. However, the Utah punter shanked the kick, and BYU's misfortunes continued. Normally, shanked kicks land harmlessly on the turf. This one, however, hit a BYU player defending one of the Utah cover men. Utah recovered. Two plays later Brandon Bradley made his first career interception. As he was falling to the turf, a Utah player stripped him of the ball. Video replay showed that Bradley was down before fumbling the ball, but the replay officials in the booth still upheld the ruling on the field. Three plays later, Utah scored to take its first and only lead of the game.
The BYU offense came on to the field unfazed by the bizarre turn of events on the defensive and special teams sides of the ball. Highlighted by a 22-yard Heaps to Devin Mahina pass and a 12-yard Heaps to Jacobson connection, the Cougars moved into field goal range with under a minute to play. BYU ran the clock down to four seconds. Senior Mitch Payne came on to attempt his fourth field goal of the game, and first game winning attempt of his career.
Victory was there for the taking. Utah took it instead, blocking Payne's kick to go home the winners, 17-16 .
PLAY OF THE GAME: Shane Hunter interception with 10:30 to go in the third, returned 46 yards to the Utah 19. Set up Heaps to Jacobson TD to push lead to 13.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jake Heaps, 22 of 37, 228 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int.
Things to watch for:
- The run game. The BYU run game regressed about 20 years. BYU's 37 rushes netted just 65 yards. Joshua Quezada's fumble started the flood of misfortune. The immediate consequence was a Utah touchdown, and the long-term effect was BYU losing the game.
- The passing game. The passing game passed this test. Heaps had better numbers than Max Hall ever did against Utah. Receivers were open and tight ends were making plays. In contrast to most of the season, the passing game was the Cougars' strength.
- Winning record/Bowl Position. Hopefully this devastating ending will inspire the team to come out and dominate in the bowl and go into the offseason on a huge high that will prove to be a catalyst that results in BYU making a huge splash as an independent next year. The loss may result in BYU being relegated to one of the bottom MWC bowl games, which makes a blowout bowl win more likely.
- Heaps' Freshman Legacy. Even in the loss, Jake Heaps' freshman legacy grew by leaps and bounds. He did everything necessary to win. When BYU was ahead in the fourth quarter he converted third downs by making big time throws. When BYU fell behind, he made the plays necessary to get BYU in field goal range. Heaps played with a poise that is rarely seen in a quarterback, regardless of his class status.
- Mckay Jacobson. After having a severely disappointing junior season, Jacobson was the team's leading receiver making 7 catches for 92 yards and the teams only touchdown.
- Second guessing. Up 6-0, early in the third quarter, and facing a fourth and one at the Utah 14 yard line. A field goal would have been automatic. The game would have become a two score game. Theoretically, BYU would have still been up two 19-17 and could run out the clock, rather than depend on a last second field goal to win.
- Deja-vu. This was another game that had too many unfinished drives. BYU kicked three field goals. If just one of them finished as a touchdown instead, BYU wins this game. In 2000, BYU had to make a miracle comeback because the Cougars settled on field goals four times. The same thing happened in 2007. BYU led all game, but Utah was able to take a 10-9 lead near the end because BYU only scored on three field goals.
- Deja-vu II. BYU won the Las Vegas Bowl in 2007, 17-16. It took a blocked field goal in the final seconds to secure that win. Back in 2004, BYU was on the road against a ranked opponent. Down one with less than a minute to play, BYU lined up kick a game winning field goal. Matt Payne, Mitch's older brother, missed the field goal and BYU lost to Boise State 28-27.
- Killer Instinct. With all the questions that could be asked after this game, my biggest question is: Where is the killer instinct? It has been missing for several years, and it tends to be a problem most often against Utah.
2000: BYU led Utah 26-10 after three quarters. Rather than put the game away with one more score, BYU allows Utah to score 17 fourth quarter points to take the lead late.
2006: BYU jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but needed a 19 point fourth quarter to come away victorious.
2007: BYU controlled the game, and could have put Utah away several times. Yet, with 1:30 left in the game, the Cougars found themselves down by one. It took a miracle 4th and 18 play to win.
2009: BYU led 20-6 with 10 minutes to play in the third quarter. The game ends up going into overtime tied 20-20 before BYU could finally win.
NEXT: Bowl Game.
DATE: To Be Determined.