Tom Smart, Deseret News
PROVO — Jarring hits, momentum swings and big plays.
For a while, it almost seemed like November.
But this year's version of the Rivalry Game, played in September, did not feature a dramatic last-second ending as has been commonplace in recent years.
It wasn't necessary. That's because Utah throttled BYU, 54-10, Saturday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The 44-point margin of victory marked the Utes' most lopsided win over the Cougars since a 43-0 win in 1931.
"We preach every week, regardless of what happens, whether we're up 14 or down 14, to just keep playing at that high level," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.
BYU led 10-7 late in the second quarter, but Utah exploded for 47 unanswered points and won in convincing fashion.
How bad was it for the Cougars? With about 10 minutes remaining in the game, BYU fans were filing out of Edwards Stadium in droves — and the Utes scored three more touchdowns after that.
"We were out-coached, out-played and out-executed from beginning to end," said Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall. "They were the better team today and they played that way."
Utah took advantage of seven BYU turnovers, including six fumbles, not to mention other Cougar miscues.
"The turnovers were the critical difference in the game," Mendenhall said.
Meanwhile, the Ute offense finally hit its stride. Utah outgained BYU in total offense, 481-354.
Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn completed 16-of-30 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. BYU's Jake Heaps was 27-of-50 for 305 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
While the Cougars could only rush for 11 yards, Utah running back John White gained 183 yards, and scored three touchdowns, all by himself.
On the season, the Utes improved to 2-1 while the Cougars fell to 1-2.
Utah wasted little time getting on the scoreboard — thanks to its defense. On BYU's opening series, the Cougars faced third-and-13 from their own 18-yard line when center Terence Brown's errant snap was bobbled in the backfield by Heaps. The ball rolled all the way into the end zone, where Ute defensive lineman Derrick Shelby pounced on it for a touchdown, staking Utah to a 7-0 lead a little more than two minutes into the contest.
BYU's nightmarish start continued on its next series as running Josh Quezada fumbled and Ute linebacker Chaz Walker recovered. But Utah failed to capitalize after a solid drive as Coleman Petersen missed a 30-yard field goal. Prior to that missed attempt, DeVonte Christopher caught a pass in the end zone, but a big hit by Travis Uale knocked the ball loose.
On their ensuing possession, the Cougars drove all the way to the Utah 3-yard line before JJ Di Luigi fumbled and Ute linebacker Matt Martinez recovered. At that point, BYU had three turnovers and zero points.
The Cougars got on the board with nine seconds left in the first period when Justin Sorensen booted a 46-yard field goal.
Utah coughed up the ball for the first time on the first play of the second quarter, when Christopher caught a pass, then fumbled, with the ball recovered by Brandon Ogletree.
A couple of series later, Heaps hooked up on a 32-yard touchdown pass to Ross Apo to propel BYU to its first lead, 10-7.
Utah turned the ball over again when Wynn threw an interception to Kyle Van Noy. But after the Cougar offense punted back to Utah, the Utes mounted a 63-yard drive, capped by a 30-yard touchdown pass from Wynn to tight end Jake Murphy with 32 seconds remaining in the first half. Murphy, the son of former Major League Baseball great Dale Murphy, originally signed with BYU before going on a mission and transferring to Utah.
The Utes took a 14-10 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Utah increased its lead on its first possession of the second half. On third-and-6 from the Ute 41-yard line, Wynn threw a floater pass across the field intended for wide receiver Dres Anderson. BYU cornerback Corby Eason jumped up in an attempt to intercept the ball, but it cleared Eason's fingertips and landed in the hands of Anderson, who turned upfield, broke an attempted tackle by Uale, and scored a 59-yard touchdown, lifting the Utes to a 21-10 advantage.
After Utah's defense forced BYU to punt, Petersen drilled a 39-yard field goal to make the score 24-10 midway through the third quarter.
Just when it appeared things couldn't get worse for the Cougars, they did. On the ensuing kickoff, JD Falslev fumbled and Utah recovered at the BYU 3-yard line. Two plays later, John White punched it into the end zone and the rout was on, 30-10.
Near the end of the third quarter, Heaps fumbled again and the Utes recovered once again, leading to a Utah field goal, 33-10.
White scored on a pair of long runs in the fourth quarter to put the Utes up, 47-10. For good measure, Utah added another late TD on a fumble return on a sack of backup BYU quarterback Riley Nelson.
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