Most Heartbreaking Games In BYU/Utah Rivalry History

Nov 21, 2018, 1:15 PM | Updated: 2:54 pm
Utah's Brandon Burton (lower right) blocks BYU's Mitch Payne's field goal attempt in the final seco...
Utah's Brandon Burton (lower right) blocks BYU's Mitch Payne's field goal attempt in the final second as the University of Utah defeats Brigham Young University 17-16 in MWC football Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)
(Tom Smart, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Rivalries are made by the tightly contested games played that has a winner celebrating a big play with the loser feeling heartache and disappointment. In the Holy War with Utah and BYU, there is plenty of competitive games.

KSL Sports profiles the most heartbreaking games in the history of the Utah/BYU rivalry.

1993: Utes Win In Provo For First Time Since 1971

Both teams combined to score 31 points in the fourth quarter that started with Utah quarterback Mike McCoy hitting wide receiver Curtis Marsh for an 84-yard touchdown pass, it was Marsh’s only catch of the game. Utah didn’t make the PAT but still had a 23-17 lead.

BYU running back Kalin Hall found the end zone from four-yards out and the Cougars took the lead for the first time in the game. Utah responded with a touchdown run by running back Jamal Anderson, who also caught a pass from McCoy for the two point conversion to lead 31-24. Walsh tied the game on a one-yard run.

Utah kicker Chris Yergensen nailed a 55-yard field goal with 25 seconds left that eventually gave the Utes the 34-31 win. It was Utah’s first win in Provo since 1971 and fans celebrated by taking down one of BYU’s field goal posts.

McCoy set a single game rivalry record with 434 passing yards, a record that still stands today. He threw three touchdown passes. Wide receiver Greg Hooks had seven receptions for 134 yards. Anderson finished with 146 yards and one touchdown on the ground, he added 3 receptions for 21 yards and another score.

Walsh wasn’t far behind McCoy in passing yards as he racked up 423 and one touchdown, he also threw five interceptions. Hall chipped in 80 rushing yards and one touchdown.


1994: Same Score As 1993

After Utah scored 10 unanswered points in the first quarter, BYU responded with 17 points of their own that saw BYU quarterback John Walsh throwing touchdown passes to tight end Chad Lewis and wide receiver Bryce Doman. The Utes scored a field goal and added a 15 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike McCoy to wide receiver Deron Claiborne to take a 20-17 halftime lead.

BYU was the only team to score in the third quarter with Walsh hitting wide receiver Tim Nowatzke from 8-yards out and the Cougars were up 24-20 heading into the fourth quarter.

McCoy and Claiborne would connect again in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard score that gave the Utes a 27-24 lead. Walsh responded with a 27-yard pass to wide receiver Mike Johnston on his only reception on a 27-yard score that gave BYU the 31-27 advantage. Utah drove down the field on their final drive as McCoy hit running back Charlie Brown on a 20-yard pass with 56 seconds left in the game. Utah won 34-31, the exact same score as the 1993 game in Provo.

Utah’s offense was led by McCoy who threw four touchdown passes on 247 yards through the air. Brown added 107 rushing yards and 2 receptions for 32 yards and one touchdown.

Walsh finished with 324 yards passing and four touchdowns. BYU’s running game was held to just 38 rushing yards.


2000: BYU Completes Comeback In LaVell Edwards Last Rivalry Game

Utah attempted to spoil LaVell Edwards last rivalry game as BYU head coach. They started by defensive back Andre Dyson intercepting BYU quarterback Brandon Doman on his first pass attempt and Dyson took the pick to the end zone giving Utah a 7-0 just 52 seconds into the game.

BYU scored 19 unanswered after the pick-six with four field goals and a three-yard touchdown run by running back Brian McDonald. The Utes added a field goal before halftime as BYU held a 19-10 advantage.

The third quarter had one touchdown as Doman connected with wide receiver Mike Rigell on a 36-yard strike to give BYU a commanding 26-10 lead entering the fourth quarter.

After a field goal, Utah scored their first offensive touchdown with 7:51 left in the game as running back Thomas Fortune ran in a two-yard score to cut BYU’s lead to six, 26-20. With 2:16 remaining, Utah quarterback Darnell Arceneaux found tight end Matt Nickel from 20-yards out and the Utes took the lead back 27-26.

BYU faced a fourth and 13 at their own 17-yard line with 1:04 left as Doman heaved it downfield and the ball was caught by wide receiver Jonathan Pittman for 33 yards. The two connected again as Pittman set up the Cougars in the red zone with 40 seconds left.

Two plays later, Doman broke the hearts of Utah fans as he scored the game winning touchdown from four yards out with 23 seconds left and BYU won the game at Rice-Eccles Stadium 34-27. LaVell Edwards claimed his 257th win of his legendary coaching career.

Doman tallied 284 passing yards and one touchdown pass while adding 39 rushing yards and another score. Pittman finished with four receptions for 117 yards.


2001: Luke Staley Leads BYU To Comeback Win Over Utah

The Utes held a 14-3 lead over No. 8 BYU in the third quarter before fullback Reno Mahe caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brandon Doman to trim the lead to four, 14-10.

Utah added a touchdown by running back Adam Tate to possibly put the game out of reach and hand BYU a major upset with a 21-10 lead.

BYU running back Luke Staley took over as he caught a 7-yard touchdown pass with 3:22 left in the game and ran in the two-point conversion as the Utes lead was cut to 21-18. He gave BYU the lead on a 30-yard run with 1:16 left and the Cougars sealed the 24-21 win when Jernaro Gilford intercepted Utah quarterback Lance Rice.

Doman ended up with 270 pasing yards and two touchdowns. Staley finished with 169 yards rushing and three receptions for 28 yards with two total touchdowns.


2005: Whittingham/Mendenhall Era Begins With Overtime Thriller

It was both Kyle Whittingham and Bronco Mendenhall’s first game as head coaches in the rivalry. The Utes already were facing adversity as they had to play without quarterback Brian Johnson who was out with an injury. Brett Ratliff took over as quarterback for Utah.

Ratliff jump started the Utes offense as he threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter to wide receiver Brian Hernandez and tight end Chad Jacobsen, with BYU adding a field goal, Utah held a 14-3 lead after the opening quarter.

Utah’s 24-3 halftime lead was sparked by a four yard touchdown run by Ratliff with a field goal. Defensive back Casey Evans set up the touchdown by taking a fumble recovery to the BYU 10-yard line.

BYU running back Curtis Brown answered with two touchdowns, one from five yards and the other from 64-yards. Hernandez caught a 48-yard pass from Ratliff before BYU wide receiver Todd Watkins caught a 13-yard pass from quarterback John Beck. Utah was leading 31-24 after three quarters.

The Utes only scored a field goal in the fourth quarter before Matt Allen scored a 28-yard touchdown from Beck to put the Cougars within three points. BYU kicked a field goal to send the game into overtime.

Utah would strike first as wide receiver Travis LaTendresse scored on a 25-yard strike from Ratliff. The Utes defense forced BYU to turn the ball over on downs and Utah pulled out a 41-34 win at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Ratliff threw four touchdown passes on 240 yards passing. He added 112 rushing yards and another score. Running back Quinton Ganther had 131 yards on the ground.

Beck had 309 passing yards and two touchdowns while Curtis Brown exploded for 153 yards rushing and two touchdowns while catching seven passes for 84 yards.


2006: Beck To Harline

The Utes had a four game winning streak over BYU entering the 2006 contest at Rice-Eccles Stadium. BYU running back Manase Tonga started the game with a one-yard touchdown run that was followed up by a 36-yard touchdown pass from quarterback John Beck to tight end Jonny Harline to give the Cougars a 14-0 first quarter lead.

Utah wide receiver Brent Casteel found the end zone from defensive back Eric Weddle. The Utes added a field goal to trail 14-10 at halftime.

The momentum stayed with the Utes in the third quarter as quarterback Brett Ratliff found wide receiver Marquis Wilson for a 57-yard touchdown. He also hit Colt Sampson for a score before the third quarter ended and Utah held a 24-17 advantage.

Beck connected with Harline and tight end Daniel Coats to give BYU the 27-24 lead. Ratliff found Casteel for a 19-yard score to have Utah re-take the lead.

On the final play of the game, John Beck had plenty of time in the pocket before the Utes defense brought pressure and he heaved the ball to a wide open Jonny Harline on the famous ‘Beck to Harline’ throw from 11-yards out and No. 21 BYU avoided the upset over the Utes 33-31.

Beck finished with 375 yards and four touchdowns through the air. Harline had seven catches for 118 yards and three touchdowns.

Ratliff ended with 358 passing yards and three touchdowns.


2007: Hall To Collie On Fourth Down

Each team would score just on touchdown and that was in the fourth quarter. The difference was a two-point conversion and field goals. BYU started with a field goal in the second quarter by Mitch Payne. Louie Sakoda tied to game at 3 in the third quarter before Payne nailed another field goal. Payne scored his third field goal for the first score of the fourth quarter.

Utah took the lead with 1:35 left in the game as running back Darrell Mack ran in a one-yard touchdown.

BYU final drive didn’t look promising as quarterback Max Hall had to recover a fumble in the backfield and threw two incompletions. On fourth and 18 at their own 13-yard line with 1:13 left, Hall found wide receiver Austin Collie downfield who caught the ball in Utah territory.

On the next play, Utah’s safety Robert Johnson was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty that put BYU on the Utes 11-yard line. Running back Harvey Unga sealed the win on the following play with an 11-yard run with 38 seconds left. BYU converted on the two-point try as Hall found Collie to give the No. 24 Cougars a 17-10 win at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Despite not throwing a touchdown, Hall finished with 269 passing yards. Austin Collie had five catches for 126 yards and Unga added 141 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

Utah quarterback Brian Johnson struggled as he threw for just 129 yards and two interceptions.


2009: Andrew George Touchdown In Overtime

A battle of Top-25 teams as Utah entered the game ranked No. 22, while BYU was No. 18.  Utah kicker Joe Phillips hit two field goals in the opening quarter before BYU kicker Mitch Payne returned the favor in the second quarter with two field goals of his own with a two-yard touchdown run by running back Harvey Unga. Running back Manase Tonga added a touchdown in the third quarter as BYU had a two-touchdown lead over the Utes.

Utah made their comeback in the fourth quarter off of two field goals by Phillips and a one-yard touchdown run by running back Eddie Wide with the Utes getting the two-point conversion. Phillips second field goal in the fourth quarter was made with 30 seconds left in regulation and sent the game to overtime.

The Utes had the ball first to start overtime and Phillips made his fifth field goal of the game. First play for BYU in the extra period saw quarterback Max Hall connecting with tight end Andrew George for a 25-yard touchdown and a 26-23 win over the Utes at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

After the game, Max Hall didn’t have nice things to say about the Utes.

“I don’t like Utah, in fact I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, their fans, everything. It felt really good to send those guys home. They didn’t deserve it, it was our time to win and we deserved it,” Hall said.

“The university (Utah) and their fans are classless. They threw beer on my family last year and did a bunch of nasty things. I don’t respect them,” he added.

Hall finished with 134 passing yards and two touchdowns. Harvey Unga led the rushing attack with 116 yards and one touchdown.

Utah freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn threw for 198 yards in his first rivalry game. Wide had 114 yards on the ground to go with one touchdown.



2010: Brandon Burton Blocked Field Goal

Only six points were scored in the first half as BYU kicker Mitch Payne hit a 43-yard field goal in the first quarter and one frim 37-yards in the second quarter. The Cougars stretched the lead to 13-0 in the third quarter when quarterback Jake Heaps threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver McKay Jacobson.

The fourth quarter was all Utah as kicker Joe Phillips hit a 40-yard field goal followed by a 37-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jordan Wynn to wide receiver DeVonte Christopher to cut the lead to 13-10. Payne scored another field goal to stretch BYU’s lead to 16-10.

Utah running back Matt Asiata gave the Utes their first lead of the game when he scored a 3-yard touchdown run.

Payne attempted the game-winning field goal as Utah defensive back Brandon Burton ran around the edge of the lineman and blocked the kick to give the Utes a 17-16 win over BYU at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The Utes didn’t have a lot going on offense but their defense was outstanding as linebacker duo Matt Martinez and Chaz Walker collected 17 and 14 tackles respectively. Utah had 8 tackles-for-loss.

BYU quarterback Jake Heaps finished with 228 yards and one touchdown through the air.

This win over BYU started the winning streak over BYU of seven games that still stands today.


2016: Utes Stop Two-Point Conversion

The Utes started the game with linebacker Sunia Tauteoli intercepting BYU quarterback Tayson Hill and returning it 41-yards for a touchdown on Hill’s first pass attempt. The Cougars hit two field goals to end the first quarter trailing 7-6.

Hill ran in a 39-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give BYU their first lead of the game. Utah quarterback Troy Williams answered with a 21-yard strike to wide receiver Tim Patrick as Utah held a one point advantage at halftime.

The second half was mostly dominated by both defenses as Utes kicker Andy Phillips stretched the Utes lead to seven in the fourth quarter by hitting two field goals in the second half.

With 18 seconds left in the game, Hill ran in a 7-yard touchdown. First year BYU head coach Kalani Sitake elected to go for the two-point conversion for a chance to win the game. Hill ran the ball up the middle and was stopped by Utah defensive end Hunter Dimick.

Utah pulled off their sixth straight victory over BYU with a 20-19 win at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

This game had 8 turnovers, six by the Utes and two by the Cougars.

Troy Williams finished with 194 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

Taysom Hill had 176 passing yards, 90 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

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Most Heartbreaking Games In BYU/Utah Rivalry History