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Utah Utes football: Bowl game a shot at redemption

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 1:30 a.m. MDT

Utah freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn (3) struggled to get the Utes into the end zone against BYU on Saturday. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Utah freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn (3) struggled to get the Utes into the end zone against BYU on Saturday. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

In the aftermath of Saturday's disappointing 26-23 overtime loss at BYU, senior linebacker Mike Wright vowed the Utah Utes weren't finished.

At 9-3 overall, they're still going bowling — in Las Vegas or San Diego against a Pac-10 opponent.

"We don't lose bowl games," Wright said. "We're going to come back. We're going to fight hard. We're going to work and finish out the season the right way."

The Utes, who have won eight consecutive bowl games, have a team meeting scheduled for today and plan to practice a couple of times this week.

Getting back on the field may be just what the team needs after coming up short in the rivalry tilt.

"I hate to lose. With a lingering loss it's killer," said senior linebacker Stevenson Sylvester. "So we've got to come out and whichever bowl game we go to, make it happen."

Lamar Chapman of the University of Utah sits dejected after watching BYU score the winning touchdown in overtime, Saturday, November 28, 2009. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Lamar Chapman of the University of Utah sits dejected after watching BYU score the winning touchdown in overtime, Saturday, November 28, 2009. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

Utah made a lot of things happen in Provo. Scoring more than one touchdown, though, wasn't one of them.

Joe Phillips wound up kicking five field goals instead, connecting from 39, 21, 31, 40 and 29 yards out.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was proud of Phillips' performance, but noted it also underscored the Utes' biggest problem in the game.

"We were kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns," he said.

The kicks, which included a go-ahead make in overtime, capped four drives of six plays and longer.

Penalties also played a role in the setback. Utah was penalized 12 times for 113 yards. Personal foul and unsportsmanlike calls were plentiful.

"It didn't seem like we could get any breaks," Wright said. "The refs were all over us."

Utah freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn (3) struggled to get the Utes into the end zone against BYU on Saturday. (August Miller, Deseret News) Utah freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn (3) struggled to get the Utes into the end zone against BYU on Saturday. (August Miller, Deseret News)

When asked why there were so many penalties, Whittingham deadpanned that it was because the referees were throwing their flags.

"I've got to go back and look at the film in order to see what they saw," he continued.

And aside from the tough finish, when BYU tight end Andrew George slipped past would-be tacklers Stevenson Sylvester and Joe Dale for a game-winning 25-yard touchdown reception in overtime, Whittingham had plenty to be pleased about.

"This was obviously a tough game and a tough loss for us as most losses are in this rivalry," he said. "I was proud of the guys because they kept fighting and battling."

Saturday's loss dropped Utah to 25th in the Bowl Championship Series standings and the USA Today coaches poll. The Utes fell out of the Associated Press Top 25. They're the leader in others receiving votes.

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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