Utah, BYU football: Utes celebrate block party, beat Cougars 17-16 in rivalry thriller
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Make room for another mantra in the BYU-Utah football rivalry
Add "The Block" to recent additions like "Harline is still open," "Fourth-and-18," and "George is still running."
This time, however, it was Utah and not BYU celebrating a dramatic victory in the hotly contested series.
"When I felt something sting my hand, I didn't know if it was the cold air or the ball," Burton said. "But then I looked up and the ball was rolling and I said 'We got the win.' "
The victory, he added, was worth the pain he endured.
"My (left) hand hurts real bad but it never felt so good," Burton said as Utah fans stormed the field to celebrate the outcome. "... I take pride in special teams play. So when my number was called to make the play, I did it."
The block capped a wild sequence down the stretch that allowed Utah to take its first and only lead and hold onto it.
Trailing 16-10 and forced to punt with 6:24 left to play, the Utes got a break when the ball bounced off the leg of BYU's B.J. Peterson and was recovered by Greg Bird near midfield.
The Cougars experienced even more misfortune two plays later when cornerback Brandon Bradley intercepted a pass by Utah's Jordan Wynn and headed up field. Tight end Kendrick Moeai, the target of the throw, caught Bradley and forced a fumble. Moeai then recovered it on the BYU 38.
The Utes eventually cashed in on the exchange and took the lead when Joe Phillips added a PAT to a 3-yard touchdown run by Matt Asiata with 4:24 remaining.
More drama — much more drama — followed on the ensuing possession by the Cougars.
After covering 54 yards on 11 plays, BYU moved into position for what would have been a game-winning field goal. Following a timeout with four seconds left to play, the teams lined up, the ball was snapped and Burton's heroics followed.
"It was a hard-fought game that came down to the last play and we just couldn't make it happen," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. "There were a lot of mistakes on our side, but I have to credit Utah with playing a game. It was a hard situation to be in. We fought all the way to the end. But we just couldn't get that final field goal."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged it was interesting the way things unfolded.
"That's football and that's the way this series has gone," he said. "There's been so many dramatic events occur in the series, and tonight was just another chapter in the story."
The bottom line, Whittingham noted, was simple.
"We made one more play than they were able to make and that turned out to be the difference in the ballgame."
It was that kind of game. A fitting finale, perhaps, in the Mountain West Conference swan song for both teams. Utah (10-2, 7-1) is headed to the Pac-12 next season and BYU (6-6, 5-3) is going independent.
"This is the definition of our rivalry. It is just what we expected against BYU," said Utah center Zane Taylor. "This game was a dogfight and both teams gave it their all. It's a great feeling to win on the last play."
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