When the Utah-UTEP football game was on the line, the best player on the field was a 5-foot-10, near-sighted kid from Orem who has been largely ignored this season.
Bryan Rowley, whose biggest problem of the afternoon was finding a lost contact lens, almost singlehandedly turned the game around in the second half, although certainly he had help from a reserve quarterback and a defense that produced five turnovers.
Trailing by three points in the second half, Rowley and quarterback Mike Richmond hooked up for two of Utah's three touchdowns to give the Utes a 37-23 victory over UTEP. For the Utes (3-4), it was their first conference victory and first home victory of the season. It also ended a four-game losing streak.
Richmond relieved Jason Woods in the second quarter and completed 18-of-29 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Rowley — who came into the game with 11 receptions for 377 yards (34 yards per catch) — caught just three passes, but he turned them into 112 yards. One covered 37 yards and set up the Utes' first touchdown of the day. His second catch went for 20 yards and a touchdown. His third catch went for 55 yards and another TD.
"That's what you've got to have," said Ute coach Ron McBride. "The guys have got to make the plays. Rowley has done that since his sophomore year in high school."