PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The rivalry losing streak is finally over for BYU.
Jaren Hall threw three touchdown passes and totaled 241 yards of offense, helping BYU win its first game over rival Utah since 2009, 26-17.
Tyler Allgeier added 102 yards on 27 carries as the Cougars snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Utes.
“There was a huge sense of urgency from the fanbase,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “It was nice to get the win for the fans and for our players. I’m just really proud of them. It was a great night. It was a good game. We’ve been on the other side of these games. We feel really fortunate and really happy that we got the win.”
BYU ran for 231 yards, becoming the first team to gain at least 200 rushing yards against Utah since Texas also rushed for 231 yards in the 2019 Alamo Bowl.
“The offensive line dominated,” said Hall. “I felt comfortable back there and I can’t tip my hat off enough to those guys. I love my dudes upfront. Coach Funk has them all dialed up and ready to go and I can’t say enough about them, I am so proud of them.”
“They beat us on the line of scrimmage, which I would bet my house that we would not lose the line of scrimmage,” said Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham. “My house isn’t worth that much, so it’s not that big of a deal. But I would never have seen that coming when we didn’t control the line of scrimmage. That’s our MO, that’s what we do best.”
“[Hall] got the edge on us a couple times,” said Utes linebacker Devin Lloyd. “He had a QB scramble, a QB draw a couple times down the middle. We’ve got to understand that we’ve got to be gap sound. We had zero sacks and that’s unacceptable. We had zero turnovers.”
Micah Bernard ran for 146 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries to lead Utah. Charlie Brewer threw for 147 yards and a touchdown for the Utes, who trailed the entire game.
“This is a tough one, it really is,” Bernard said. “Nine in a row, trying to make it ten, we had a good run. We won’t see these guys for another couple years. So, it’s tough that we had to end it on this one.”
The Cougars converted 11 of 19 third downs and won the turnover battle, 2-0.
BYU forced a pair of Utah turnovers early in the first quarter. Charlie Brewer threw an interception that Chaz Ah You returned to the Utah 30 on the Utes’ first drive. Tavion Thomas fumbled the ball on Utah’s second drive, and it bounced to Isaiah Herron at the Utah 42.
The Cougars did not do much with either takeaway, getting only a 37-yard field goal from Jake Oldroyd out of two drives starting in Utah territory.
BYU stayed on the ground to finally reach the end zone in the second quarter. The Cougars extended their lead to 10-0 on a 4-yard toss from Hall to Neil Pau’u. They ran 12 times on the 14-play drive, highlighted by an 18-yard scramble down the sideline by Hall on 4th-and-11 situation from the Utah 36.
“We practiced all week for them,” said Allgeier. “Our scout team gave us a great look at their defense. We came out a little slow, but we ended up picking it up. The defense had our backs and we had theirs. We had to pick it up, ramp it up and do our thing.”
Utah cut the lead to 10-7 on a 20-yard pass from Brewer to a wide-open Brant Kuithe. BYU stopped the Utes on 4th down at the Cougar 8 to keep them from taking their first lead. The Cougars then marched 93 yards in 11 plays, culminating in a 2-yard TD catch by Samson Nacua, extending the lead to 16-7 just before halftime. Hall danced out of pressure and tossed a 33-yard dart to Keanu Hill a play earlier to set up Nacua’s score.
Hall made a pair of big runs late in the third quarter to set up a 4-yard pass to Gunner Romney that extended BYU’s lead to 23-7 with 38 seconds remaining in the period.
Utah then scored the next ten points, capped by a 22-yard touchdown run by Bernard to cut the BYU lead to 23-17.
But Hall led the Cougars on a 12-play, 71-yard drive that ate up over six minutes, culminating in a 21-yard field goal by Jake Oldroyd to put the game away.
“I’m so proud of them, all the way around from the defensive line to the secondary,” said BYU linebacker Payton Wilgar. “I’m so proud. I know anyone on that defense would’ve sacrificed anything to get that win and that’s what we did.”
The fans then stormed the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium for the first time since 2019.
“Being on the field with the fans was priceless and I am so happy for each and every one of them and all the help they’ve given us,” Hall said. “It was fun to celebrate out on the field with them. The locker room wasn’t everyone, but it was all smiles and dancing. We were all very proud of each other and relished in the moment.”
So, after 12 years without a win against their rivals, BYU can now celebrate this victory for three years, as the two teams don’t play again until 2024.
BYU next hosts Arizona State next Saturday, while the Utes travel to San Diego State.