Almost Magic in Loss to Utah

Another epic episode of the “Holy War” is in the books, and this one is bound to be remembered. It started slow, but ended as a nail-biter with one crazy finish.

The game started off terrifyingly familiar. After the Cougar defense forced the punt, the first snap by the BYU offense went sailing into the end zone. Riley Nelson managed to recover the ball but was brought down in the end zone for what would have been a safety were it not for the face mask penalty on Joe Kruger of the Utah defense. While they dodged that bullet, the offense still fizzled out, thanks in part to a couple of false start penalties.

Although Riley Stephenson had a decent punt, it was returned for 57 yards to the BYU 17. Two plays later Utah Quarterback Jon Hays connected with Westlee Tonga for the touchdown, giving Utah the 7-0 lead.
After that BYU and Utah traded possessions until about mid-way through the second quarter, with each having a failed field goal attempt. When BYU's fourth drive stalled at the Utah 38, Riley Stephenson kicked a 37-yard punt downed on the 1-yard line. The defense forced a 3 and out and a bad punt gave BYU the ball on the 33-yard line. Then on 2nd and 8 from the 10-yard line, Nelson found Cody Hoffman in the end zone for the touchdown, tying the game up at 7. They would trade a couple more possession before going into halftime at tied up.

The third quarter is when things started to get ugly for BYU. After going back and forth with no points for the first part of the quarter, Utah managed to score a field with 7:47 left in the quarter to go up 10-7. BYU responded by putting together a promising drive, getting to the Utah 20. But after a false start pushed them back five yards, Nelson was in the process of calling an audible when a early snap went unexpectedly over his head. Michael Alisa attempted to recover but the ball just squirted out further until it was scooped up by a Utah defender and taken all the way back for a touchdown, putting Utah on top by 10. BYU continued to move forward at the start of the fourth, and the drive ended with a 7-yard touchdown run by freshmen Jamaal Williams. The score was now 24-14 with 13:43 left to play. Plenty of time to stage a comeback. The BYU defense forced a three and out, but the BYU offense stalled once again. But once again the BYU defense came up big. Stopping Utah on their 20 yard line, the punting unit came out on to the field. But the snap was off to the side, forcing Utah punter Sean Sellwood to stretch for it. By the time he had the BYU defense had penetrated and so he had to try and tuck the ball and run, but was brought down on the Utah 14. For plays later Nelson threw a touchdown pass to tight end Kaneakua Friel, bring BYU to within a field goal with just 5:05 remaining. The defense manages to stop Utah, but not after they gained some yards, picked up a first down, and most importantly killed some time. The Utah punt pinned BYU at their own 8 yard line with 1:11 to go in the ball game.

Nelson complete two passes Michael Alisa and Cody Hoffman for the 1st down, but a lot of time was already lost. Nelson was then sacked for a two yard loss, forcing them to clock the ball. Nelson then threw an incomplete pass on 3rd  and 12. On 4th and 12 the Utah defense got a lot of penetration in the backfield, forcing Nelson to scramble. Nonetheless, he managed to find Hoffman down field for a 47-yard gain up to the Utah 34 with only 8 seconds left on the clock.

Now, things start to get crazy. Nelson is hit as he tries to throw the ball, causing his wobbly pass to float down in what appeared to be the final play of the game, and the students had rushed the field.  But upon review, the officials ruled that the ball fell incomplete with one second left on the clock. Restoring the one second, and getting all the fans to the sideline, BYU lined up to attempt a 55-yard gaming tying field goal.

The field goal was blocked, and the field rush immediately resumed. But BYU has recovered the live ball and the play was still live when the crowd had rushed the field. This resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmen like conduct penalty, which gave BYU one more shot at tying the game. The 37-yard field goal attempt by Stephenson looked good, but went far left, bouncing off the upright and ending the game.

It was almost magic, but in the end the miscues outweighed the miracles.  

PLAY OF THE GAME: Cody Hoffman 47 yard catch to the Utah 34 with 11 seconds to go giving BYU one last shot.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Cody Hoffman – 8 receptions, 120 yards, 1 touchdown.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at


  1. Typical officiating in a rivalry game, call everthing on the visiting teram and overlook the major stuff on the home team. This offcial crew should be suspended and have to go through training again.

    1. get real! look at the total yardage for penalties and try making your statement again. Poor Loser!!!

  2. The Doman Rieley era/experiment.
    needs to end. If Bronco can't replace Doman with Ty Detmer then he needs to be replaced by Steve Young or Andy Reed.

    1. I understand the frustration, but I think the offensive line is a much bigger problem. All those false starts, 2 bad shotgun snaps.


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