It was the final minute of the fourth quarter, and Utah faced a meaningless third-and-one situation on the BYU 17-yard line. The game was long-since decided, and the many blue-jacketed Cougar fans had retreated, but thousands of Crimson-clad Ute fans craved one more taste of victory.
They wanted Eddie."Ed-die, Ed-die, Ed-die," they chanted.
Although senior halfback Eddie Johnson could have broken a Utah single-game record with one more touchdown, Utah Coach Jim Fassel kept him out.
Johnson had already done enough. Like 117 yards on 26 rushing attempts, and 91 yards on two receptions, and four touchdowns, and two school records broken and another tied, and a lot of nifty moves that left BYU defenders grasping at his slipstream.
Then, when it was all over, the Ute fans easily did what the BYU defense had not been able to do - they stopped Eddie Johnson for no gain.
The nimble halfback was mobbed at the 30-yard line for more than half an hour after the final gun, signing autographs for wave after wave of exuberant Ute boosters.
He signed ticket stubs, programs, folding chairs, toy footballs, even the shirts on people's backs, long after the last of his teammates had hit the showers.
Games like this don't happen every year, not games where you gain 208 yards and score four times against an archrival that has tormented you for an entire career.
Eddie knew it, and the fans knew it.
"This is Utah's town now," Johnson told the cheering crowd. "No more BYU."
A middle-aged, portly man in a crimson sweater kissed Johnson on the cheek and said, "Thanks for a beautiful game."
Another fan blared: "E.J. for president."
Asked what this victory would do for the Utah football program, Johnson made a prediction. "It's going to turn it around," he said. "It's not BYU's state anymore." Again the fans chanted: "Ed-die, Ed-die, Ed-die."
Moments later, in the relative calm of a hallway
Please see JOHNSON on D2
outside the chaotic Ute locker room, Johnson talked with reporters about his - and his teammates' - approach to this game.
"We knew going into this game we were going to win," he said. "I think BYU knew it a little bit, too.
"We just dominated through the whole game. They couldn't take it away from us. We were just too pumped up. They (the Cougars) were just, `Whoa, what's going on here?' "
And on and on, the kind of stuff one would expect from a guy who had put up with years of knee injuries and team mediocrity to finally, in the last game of his college career, get recognized for something besides a good effort in a losing cause.
Just then Fassel walked by, and Johnson and the coach embraced. Johnson said, "Helluva coach, helluva head coach. I enjoyed playing for you."
And then Johnson announced, to anyone within hearing distance: "This is Coach Fassel's town now."
Fassel had no comment on that, of course. He's a smart man. He knows he has to play BYU again next year, and he knows that crowing in the flush of triumph can be costly. It would only have added insult to, well, insult.
For all day long, the alleged physically overmatched Utes had sent a stream of Cougars to the sidelines, limping and grimacing and generally in pain.
"The worst possible thing that I feared might happen is that we had a lot of injuries," said BYU Coach LaVell Edwards afterward.
But then Edwards zeroed in on another worst thing, perhaps one he hadn't anticipated, and offered roundabout praise to Johnson in the process.
"Eddie Johnson made some big plays . . . I'll be glad to see Eddie Johnson . . . go."
And go is exactly what he did in this game.
"This is my last game, and I wanted to go out with a bang, and I did that," Johnson said.
"When somebody is hot on our offense, they give him the ball all the time.
"I wanted to stay hot so they'd give me the ball."
At halftime, when Utah was sitting on a comfortable 27-7 lead, Johnson said no one was gloating in the Ute locker room.
"It was real quiet," he said. "No one was making noise.
"We were telling ourselves we were down by seven points, instead of in the lead.
"I want to play Wyoming again. It wouldn't be like they beat us before."