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Quick turnaround for BYU with Boise State looming

Published September 17, 2012 9:16 pm

College football • Cougars tripped up by penalties, fumbles.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Perhaps the BYU Cougars should stop trying to persuade the Utah Utes to keep their football rivalry going and work on convincing the Utes that the games should not include the third quarter.

Just like last year, mistake-ridden BYU fell apart in the third after keeping the game tight in the first half. The Cougars didn't roll over and die like last year this time — not even close — but the damage was done.

Despite a gutty fourth-quarter rally and another crazy ending in the rivalry, BYU fell 24-21 to the Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium when Riley Stephenson's 36-yard field-goal attempt doinked off the left upright.

It was a far cry from 54-10, but just as painful for a team that had a year to plot its hoped-for revenge and wished-for redemption.

Trailing 24-21 with 1:11 remaining, the Cougars had a last gasp when they took over at their own 8-yard line, but they had no timeouts left. On fourth-and-12, Cody Hoffman caught a 47-yard pass from Riley Nelson to get the Cougars to the Utah 34.

The clock seemingly struck midnight for the Cougars after that on a Nelson incomplete pass, but after a review the officials put one second back on the clock and Justin Sorensen attempted a 51-yard field goal. But it was blocked, and the crowd rushed onto the field as JD Falsev scooped up the loose ball and tried to advance it.

After another review, officials penalized the Utes 15 yards, giving the Cougars new life. That's when Stephenson's kick hit the upright, and the Utes' fans stormed the field again.

And why not?

The incredibly disruptive crowd of 46,653 and their noise had something to do with the biggest play of the game — an epic BYU mistake.

Trailing 10-7 in the third quarter, the Cougars (2-1) had a first-and-10 at the Utah 20, easily within field-goal range, when one of their nine false starts backed them up five yards.

Then disaster struck.

Center Blair Tushaus snapped the ball while Nelson was not looking. Nelson and Mike Alisa couldn't pounce on the loose ball, but Utah's Moe Lee could. He returned it 47 yards for a touchdown, giving Utah a 17-7 lead.

The Cougars' Uani Unga committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to back BYU up to its own 17, and the Cougars had to punt. On Utah's first play at the BYU 39, Jon Hays threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Dres Anderson for the Utes' final TD.

The Cougars committed 12 penalties for 75 yards.

Earlier in the third quarter, a costly penalty on BYU's Daniel Sorensen, a personal foul, put Utah in field-goal range. The 48-yard field goal by Coleman Peterson gave Utah a 10-7 lead, but it turned out to be the difference.

In a scene eerily similar to last year, the Cougars made a huge mistake on their first play from scrimmage as the snap went past Nelson and into the end zone. However, BYU caught a huge break when Joe Kruger grabbed Nelson's facemask on the play, costing Utah a safety.

That turned out to be a precursor of things to come, though, as the Cougars shot themselves in the foot so many times they were out of a good one — one that couldn't make a 36-yard field goal that would have sent the contest into overtime.

drew@sltrib.com

Twitter: @drewjay