BYU can't capitalize on opportunities, Utah does

When Utah dropped the opening kickoff, it gave BYU Cougars fans hope that this was a sign this would be the year BYU beats Utah. That hope dissipated when BYU missed a tackle on the first play, which allowed the Utah quarterback to rip off a 24-yard run. However, Utah was called for a holding penalty and two errant shotgun snaps forced Utah to punt. Hope was resuscitated.

BYU was unable to move the ball. Trey Dye dropped what would have been a first down pass on second down. The Cougars ended up punting.

Utah started its second drive the same way it did the first: a big play. Utah completed a 18-yard pass to a wide open receiver. However, the Cougar D tightened up and stopped Utah for a loss of four. Another holding penalty on Utah set up 3rd down and 21. The Utah receiver fumbled the ball, and although it popped high in the air and lay on the turf for a few seconds, BYU was unable to recover.

Tanner Mangum threw an interception on second down, and Utah returned it from the 39-yard line of BYU to the nine. The Cougar defense stepped up, and limited Utah to a field goal.

On the ensuing drive, it looked like BYU sensed the need to answer Utah's field goal with points of its own as Mangum found Talon Shumway for 20 yards on a tipped pass. However, BYU's inability to protect Mangum for most of the night caused the drive to stall. He was hit on a throw, that was initially ruled a fumble. Official replay overturned the call of the field. Nevertheless, BYU ended up punting as the drive stalled on third down when Utah nearly registered a second interception, but the defender was out of bounds.

BYU pinned Utah back inside the 10-yard line with a punt. Utah was forced to punt without earning a first down. Shumway had a second nice grab as the first quarter came to a close.

Despite committing a false start penalty before a 3rd and 1 play, BYU still picked up the first down. The Cougar offense was starting to show some life, and a 15-yard targeting penalty on Utah as Mangum slid for a 4-yard run helped move the ball into scoring territory. Momentarily, it appeared BYU took the lead, but a touchdown pass from Mangum to Shumway was negated by an egregious offensive pass interference penalty on BYU for running a pick.

That forced BYU to kick a field goal, and go for the tie. The kick was wide, and Utah maintained its 3-0 lead.

BYU drilled the Utah quarterback on first down, but he was still able to get the ball off for a 48-yard completion. Utah had a touchdown of its own negated for running an illegal pick, and kicked its second field goal of the game to take a 6-0 lead.

BYU was unable to respond with another sustained drive as Mangum was sacked for a 11-yard loss on a corner blitz. That gave Utah one more opportunity before the half ended. The Utes capitalized on it and added one more field goal on the final play of the half to make it 9-0 at the break.

Utah siezed control of the game at the start of the second half. On the opening drive of the second half, Mangum's third down pass was deflected by one Utah defensive lineman and bounced into the hands of another Ute defensive lineman. Three plays later, Utah scored on a busted play.

Utah now held a commanding 16-0 lead.

Under duress yet again, Mangum threw another interception on the next drive as his deep ball to Shumway was off target. As bad as it seemed, that turned out to be the best offensive play up to that point for BYU. Utah fumbled the ball on the quarterback-running back exchange on first down, and Fred Warner was right there to jump on the ball.

That's when BYU pulled out the big gun. Big 250-pound running back Ula Tolutau carried the ball four times for all 22-yards that stood between BYU and the end zone. It ended BYU's scoring drought, and closed it to 16-6.

Ula Tolutau celebrates his first career touchdown. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo)

BYU's 2-point conversion attempt was a disaster, which made it a little hard to believe that the Cougars had turned a corner and might make a comeback. Even though the defense played with new life and forced a 3-and-out series for Utah by blowing up an attempted quarterback sneak on 3rd and 1, Mangum was sacked again on first down for a loss of seven. He ran for 12 yards and four yards on second and third downs, which was one yard shy of a first down. BYU had to punt and another opportunity was lost.

Utah drove down the field and kicked another field goal to extend the lead to 19-6.

One lesson learned from this rivalry the last six years is BYU will not go without putting up a fight. Jonah Trinnaman returned the ensuing kickoff to the BYU 45-yard line. The Cougars went for the home run on first down, but Mangum overthrew an open Beau Tanner. A holding penalty on second  effectively, ended the drive. BYU pick up two yards on 2nd and 20. Predictably, Utah blitzed on third down and forced a bad throw. The Cougars had to punt as the third quarter was coming to a close.

As the fourth quarter began, it appeared Utah was going to mercilessly put the game out of reach. The Utes converted back-to-back 3rd and 1 situations with two-yard runs. They were poised to do it a third time, but before the ball carrier went down, Corbin Kaufusi knocked the ball loose, and Troy Warner recovered the fumble. 

BYU was unable to capitalize on another open receiver deep downfield. The Cougars also failed to take advantage of Utah jumping off sides on 3rd and 7 to set up a much more manageable 3rd and 2. Mangum was sacked, again, and BYU was forced to punt.

With time starting to run out in the fourth quarter, Utah completed a 41-yard pass on second down. That helped Utah get into field goal range, but when facing a 4th and 1, Utah decided to go for it, rather than kick a field goal and put the game out of reach. The Cougar defense ate it up and pushed Utah back five yards.

Under six minutes remained, and BYU trailed by 13. Desperation time. Mangum hit Tanner to convert 3rd and 5. Mangum then hit Matt Bushman for 20 yards, and converted another third down to Tanner. A 7-yard touchdown pass to Trey Dye with 2:38 to play made it a one score game, 19-13.

An onside kick seemed imminent, however, BYU went with a shallow pooch kick that went out of bounds.

The Cougar D did its part and got the ball back with 1:34 to play. BYU would have to travel 91 yards to win. Mangum's first down pass was dropped. It would have been a first down, and the receiver would have gotten out of bounds to stop the clock. Mangum's third down pass was dropped, as well, it would have been a first down. On 4th and 4, Mangum had to just throw the ball up as Utah got pressure on him.

Mangum got up and limped to the sideline, and BYU limped to another loss to Utah.

PLAY OF THE GAME:  Fred Warner fumble recovery to set up BYU's first touchdown.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Fred Warner, 8 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Fumble Recovery

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