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Gordon Monson: BYU-USU game a QB duel, one possession at a time

Published October 5, 2012 11:52 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Provo

Quarterbacking was just one factor in Friday night's 6-3 BYU victory over Utah State, but it might have been the most important — and interesting — to track, piece by piece, possession by possession.

The setup was this: Chuckie Keeton, the Aggie sophomore, came in considered the best QB in the state, and on a roll. Nobody knew exactly who was going to start for the Cougars — struggling and injured senior Riley Nelson or the replacement Taysom Hill. The freshman ended up going.

And here, in a virtual conversation between the two, is what happened, and how it affected the outcome at LaVell's Place ...

Hill: "Hello, it's me." Despite Hill using his legs and arm to keep a drive alive, the Cougars are stopped on a 4th-and-1 at the USU 30.

Keeton: "This might be harder than I thought." Keeton completes two short passes, but they are snuffed. The Aggies go three-and-out.

Hill: "Oh-fer." Three straight incompletions from their own 21 give the Cougars nothing but the chance to punt.

Keeton: "Take the points." Keeton teams mostly with Kerwynn Williams on passes and runs for a 13-play drive that makes it to the 2-yard line before settling, after brief thoughts of going for it, for a Josh Thompson 26-yard FG.

Hill: "Ouch." After converting on one third down on the ground, Hill gets popped hard rushing on another third down. Punt.

Keeton: "Move on, nothing to see here." A couple of nice Keeton plays are wasted.

Hill: "Kickers suck." Hill shows brilliant speed on a 17-yard keeper, and nails a couple of sweet throws to Cody Hoffman, moving the ball to the Utah State 17, and then ... a Justin Sorensen field-goal attempt is blocked.

Keeton: "Mister Van Noy's a beast!" On third down, Keeton sacrifices his body churning toward the down marker as the BYU linebacker blows him up.

Hill: "Zilch. Nada. Nichts." The fleet QB hula-hoops to avoid a sack but can't get a first down.

Keeton: "I'm OK, you're a jerk." Keeton scares all of Aggie Nation when he appears hurt after Van Noy pops him to the turf, but he returns after one play.

Hill: "I got this." Taking the ball at his own 39, with 28 seconds left in the half, Hill guns three straight passes to Hoffman, including a beaut of a 28-yarder, followed by a 3-yard TD pass to JD Falslev with three seconds remaining. PAT misses.

And the second half ...

Keeton: "Oops." The Ag quarterback has the ball punched out of his hands at his own 10-yard line and BYU recovers at the 9.

Hill: "Darn it all to heck." Despite getting the aforementioned gift of a turnover, the Cougars make two huge errors — committing a hold and botching a fake field goal that USU sees coming. No points, Aggie ball.

Keeton: "I'll take it." After ducking, unharmed, away from the BYU bullet, Keeton moves the ball modestly, before a punt to the Cougars' 17.

Hill: "Tell them to stop." Another hold by BYU's offensive line puts Hill in a hole, forcing another punt, this one shanked to midfield.

Keeton: "Who called this crap?" A stupid trick play on a reverse results in a Preston Hadley pick at the BYU 2 and a busted scoring threat.

Hill: "M-m-miss it ... m-m-miss it." Jumanne Robertson misreads a sure interception at midfield.

Keeton: "You take it, I don't want it." The QB unloads an incomplete third-down pass to avoid getting sandwiched between Ziggy Ansah and Uona Kaveinga.

Hill: "Am I gonna have to do this myself?" No, you can't. After three quarters, Hill accounts for 243 of BYU's 267 total offensive yards, but he throws an pick at 10:21 of the fourth, killing a drive.

Keeton: "Kickers really suck." After the BYU turnover and a short USU drive, Thompson attempts a 37-yard field goal, the same spot and distance from which he missed at Wisconsin, and the Aggies continue to trail, 6-3.

Hill: "Cody's my man." Hill hits Hoffman for a 28-yard pass that extends a drive, but with just more than five minutes left, the thing stalls. A Cougar punt puts Utah State on its own 6.

Keeton: "This is brutal." A sack and a penalty ruin a late Aggie chance. A punt boils the outcome down to this: Can BYU pick up a first down?

Hill: "Run Jamaal, run." The Cougar quarterback relies on another freshman — Jamaal Williams — to get a first down, and a few more to end the game.