‘You have to respond’: BYU players were upset with Utah Tech receiver’s pregame proclamations

Trailblazers WR predicted BYU would lose in Twitter video posted Friday. QB Jaren Hall fired back.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Keanu Hill (1) pulls in his third touchdown in football action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Utah Tech Trailblazers at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022.

Provo • The video circulated throughout the BYU locker room on Friday afternoon.

It showed Utah Tech wide receiver Malcolm Ross-Turner making proclamations about a BYU loss. He likened the 5-5 Cougars to an FCS team Utah Tech had played earlier in the season, Sacramento State.

“It is going to be 27, let’s go 27 to 14,” Ross-Turner said on a Twitter video that has since been deleted. “I will give them 21 [points], maybe. Who’s winning, though? Utah Tech. That’s about it, though, yeah.”

After a 52-26 BYU win, a calvary of Cougars sniped back at Ross-Turner — letting on that his comments mattered more to them than normal. And it started with the typically stoic leader, Jaren Hall.

“We definitely heard it,” said the quarterback, who threw for a career-high 465 yards and totaled six touchdowns. “Media, everybody has a phone nowadays. You are not going to not hear something like that. It definitely motivated us yesterday. Seeing the quote, seeing the video. But it is the game of football. You have to respond. Luckily for us it kind of put a fire beneath us and got us better prepared.”

Head coach Kalani Sitake almost lamented that his team played too much in reaction to those comments. BYU teetered on reckless with some of the penalties it got for unsportsmanlike conduct. In total, BYU committed 11 infractions for 132 yards.

At one point, offensive lineman Joe Tukuafu pushed over a Utah Tech player already out of bounds. It was almost 20 yards away from the line of scrimmage, and brought back a Brayden Cosper first down.

“I think we had some uncharacteristic plays, some unsportsmanlike and things like that. I think guys were a little upset,” Sitake said. “Had a little bit of chippiness because of some things that were said all week. Our guys aren’t blind, they know what was being said. They wanted to get after it and be real physical.

“It cost us some plays, but that is all right... Our guys just really wanted to get to this game,” he finished.

BYU typically has downplayed what opponents have said this season. But this time, almost immediately, players were playing up the comments from the FCS school. Cornerback D’Angelo Mandell tweeted about it on Friday night.

From the jump, BYU players were jarring with Utah Tech offensive players after the snap.

“They didn’t hold anything back,” receiver Puka Nacua said. “We knew coming in this is the game of their season. That is what they got to use to their advantage. They were taking every shot they could. They were a physical team, nothing dirty. That is what I love a physical game. We were able to assert our dominance.”

Ross-Turner finished with three catches for 49 yards. He was targeted eight times.

Utah Tech poured fire on the already hostile atmosphere of the game in the final seconds. Down 19 and with BYU trying to run the clock out, Utah Tech called two timeouts to try to get the ball back.

BYU ended up running the ball with wide receiver Terence Fall and scoring on a 25-yard jet sweep instead of ending the game. It turned a moderately close game into a blowout.

“At the end we are just trying to run the clock out and they took some timeouts,” Sitake said. “I think the right thing to do was just keep running the ball.”

Wide receiver Keanu Hill seemed to indicated the team wouldn’t carry the frustration over for very long. But at least for one day, BYU acknowledged it heard the noise.

“I don’t really take those things to heart or anything,” Hill said. “It is just another day to get better and another opponent we got to get rid of.”