After intercepting Sefo Liufau’s pass and sealing Colorado’s fate on Saturday afternoon, Trevor Reilly celebrated with his teammates, looked towards the south end stands of Rice-Eccles Stadium and unleashed a season full of emotion.
Instinctively, he took the football from the last play of his college career and aimed for the top row. The ball went flying and three yellow flags instantly hit the turf with nobody seeming to notice or care.
In his final appearance before the Utah fans, Reilly exited in grand style, causing the key turnover and propelling the Utes to a 24-17 win over the Buffaloes in front of 45,023. On a day honoring the seniors, it was Utah’s senior captain who fittingly made the biggest play.
"To get the interception was personally nice, but it sealed the game and that felt better to me," Reilly said. "This week, I played middle linebacker. We needed to mix it up and it worked for me. I’ve been playing here for five years, so I guess I should know the defense in and out."
As has been the case all season, Reilly was one of the best players on the field. He was all over the place, racking up 14 tackles, including one for a loss. He made a big tackle in the first half, catching Buffaloes running back Tony Jones behind the line of scrimmage on fourth and goal.
He played out of position this week, but he’s been so versatile and reliable this season that defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake felt comfortable playing him almost anywhere in the front seven. Whenever the defense made a big play, Reilly was usually the one to come up with it.
During the game, Reilly consistently displayed his leadership, often making sure his teammates found themselves in the right pre-snap formations. In a season of adversity where it could’ve been easy to quit, Reilly played as hard as anyone in the program.
"Trevor’s made so many plays for us over the last four years," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "I’m happy for him. I’d rather him not throw the ball into the stands, but I guess that’s something we have to deal with. He’s a heck of a kid and he’s been through a lot off the field this season, as we all know."
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