Provo • For nearly an hour, the clock remained stuck on a symbolic number. Even a weather delay drove home the point of Utah’s domination of the football rivalry with BYU in this decade.
The scoreboard showed 9:01 left in the game when the lightning surrounded LaVell Edwards Stadium, temporarily interrupting the Utes' ninth straight victory in the series, 30-12.
Just as happened in November, Utah ruled the second half vs. BYU in August.
This time, though, the Utes didn't fall behind before responding. No. 14 Utah took full control after halftime, matching the all-time record streak that's shared by the schools.
BYU's touchdown cut Utah's lead to 30-12, just prior to the delay. Afterward, the Utes removed any remaining doubt with a clock-eating drive inside the BYU 5-yard line, before kneeling three times.
In that sequence, “Zack Moss ran it down their throats,” quarterback Tyler Huntley said.
Utah’s offensive line “started to assert themselves, which is good,” Ute coach Kyle Whittingham said. “It’s a product of their hard work all summer and all fall camp.”
If the Utes were outplayed in the first half, even while taking a 9-6 lead, they overwhelmed BYU in the last two quarters. Moss got going on his way to a 181-yard night and Huntley hurt the Cougars just enough with his running and passing. Utah's highly regarded defense became tougher, making life much more difficult for sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson.
So a game that lasted well into Friday morning produced the same result as ever in this decade. The Utes matched their rivalry run of 1929-37 and BYU’s streak of 1979-87, starting when Whittingham was a Cougar sophomore linebacker.
UTAH 30, BYU 12
• No. 14 Utah ties the all-time record in the rivalry with a ninth straight victory, a 30-12 win over BYU at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
• The Utes had won the previous six rivalry games by eight points or fewer.
• The attendance of 61,626 was short of a sellout.
Utah's offense had produced only a field goal before halftime, while the Ute defense delivered a touchdown via linebacker Francis Bernard's 58-yard interception return. The offense came to life in the second half, starting with a long touchdown march. Utah then converted Mika Tafua's fumble recovery at the BYU 22-yard line into a short scoring drive.
Just to extend last year's theme, Ute safety Julian Blackmon then returned an interception 39 yards for a score, as he did in the second half of Utah's rally from 20-0 down at halftime of a 35-27 win in November.
The Utes have scored nine defensive touchdowns in the last eight games vs. BYU — including six pick-sixes in five games.
“I knew we made some mistakes,” said BYU coach Kalani Sitake, “but give credit to Utah. They're a good team and they made some big plays and gave us some different looks.”
BYU ruled the first half statistically, but Utah took a 9-6 lead.
The only touchdown of the half came when Bernard returned an interception 58 yards to the end zone. A scrambling Wilson delivered the ball right into Bernard's arms and the former BYU player ran untouched to the end zone.
Each team stopped the other on a fourth-down play in the first quarter and the offenses settled for field goals. UCLA transfer Andrew Strauch hit a 41-yarder on his first attempt for Utah, but missed the extra point after Bernard's touchdown. Jake Oldroyd connected from 32 and 37 yards for BYU's points.
Moss netted 68 yards on 11 carries in the first half, but he was unable to piece together many productive runs to sustain drives. Utah's offensive line was inconsistent in run-blocking and Huntley couldn't connect on anything beyond short-range passes. Tight end Brant Kuithe's drop was especially costly on what he likely would have turned into a 40-yard gain.
Wilson was sharper than Huntley, although BYU couldn't finish drives either. The Cougars posted 196 total yards in the half to Utah's 125.
The Utes looked much sharper to begin the third quarter, as the blocking improved. Moss found some big holes on a 75-yard drive that was sustained by Solomon Enis’ key 12-yard catch and ended with receiver Jaylen Dixon’s 2-yard run on a sweep to make it 16-6.
The Utes then pieced together another drive, aided by a BYU penalty, but didn't get any points as Strauch missed a 25-yard field goal. Whittingham switched to backup kicker Jadon Redding after that.
In any case, the Utes were good enough to win for a ninth straight time in the rivalry. And now they'll have two opportunities to get the offense going more consistently, facing Northern Illinois and Idaho State, before opening Pac-12 play Sept. 20 at USC.
BYU will have to regroup quickly, visiting Tennessee next week.