Utah Beats BYU 35-27 Thanks To Big Second Half

Nov 24, 2018, 11:27 PM | Updated: Nov 26, 2018, 9:23 am
Utah Utes quarterback Jason Shelley (15) warms up prior to kickoff as BYU and Utah play at Rice Ecc...
Utah Utes quarterback Jason Shelley (15) warms up prior to kickoff as BYU and Utah play at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Scott Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It was a tale of two halves for the No. 17 Utah Utes as they squeezed out a 35-27 victory over BYU.

After trailing 20-0 at halftime, the Utes scored 28 unanswered points to take the lead late in the fourth and then held on for the victory. It was the eighth straight win over the Cougars for Utah.

Cougars Owned The First Half

BYU got a stroke of fortune early when a Utah player touched a bad Cougar punt, allowing the boys in blue to recover the ball in Utah territory. The short field set up a 10-yard touchdown reception by Neil Pau’u from Zach Wilson. The PAT was missed to give BYU an early 6-0 lead.

A few possessions later, Wilson connected with Matt Bushman for another BYU score to put the Cougars up 13-0. The first quarter ended with the Cougars holding onto that lead.

The Utes’ misfortune continued in the second quarter as Matt Gay’s 54-yard field goal was blocked and then later, just before halftime, Matt Hadley punched in a 1-yard rush to give BYU a 20-lead at the break.

The Cougars dominated the first half, outgaining Utah with 247 yards of offense to just 86 by the Utes.

Utah Rallies In The Second Half

The Utes came alive in the second half thanks to a big play by cornerback Julian Blackmon. He intercepted Wilson and took the pigskin 27 yards to the house to put the Utes on the board at 20-7.

Unfortunately for Utah, a poor punt by Mitch Wishnowsky gave BYU a short field. They marched down to the one yard line where Hadley again punched it in, this time on fourth down, to give BYU a 27-7 advantage.

The Utes would respond with their second score of the night when Shelley found Samson Nacua on a 10-yard touchdown pass to cap off a 14 play drive and cut the Cougars’ lead to 27-14. They would score again on their next possession on a 2-yard scamper by Armand Shyne to reduce BYU’s lead to 27-21.

The momentum kept building for Utah as they scored their 21st unanswered point and took the lead for the first time with a 5-yard rush by Shyne to put the Utes up 28-27 with three minutes remaining.

The Cougars received the ball and managed to get just nine yards on their first three plays to force a pivotal 4th-and-1. The Utes held tough and got the ball back on a turnover of downs. On the first play of scrimmage, Shelley kept the ball on a read-option play to score from 33 yards and give the Utes some breathing room.

BYU received the football and got a first down, but turned the ball over on downs again before making any more progress, giving the Utes a comeback win for the ages.

Next Up

Utah will continue to play for the Pac-12 championship Friday at 6 p.m. against Washington.

With a 6-6 record, it is likely that BYU will play in a bowl game, while no details as to which game against whom have been made yet.


Story will be updated.

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Utah Beats BYU 35-27 Thanks To Big Second Half