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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Utah running back John White IV runs for a 62-yard touchdown during Saturday's Ute win in Provo.

PROVO — Utah lost its senior leader on the offensive front, Tony Bergstrom, with nine minutes left in the first quarter. The loss was hardly apparent, however.

He was replaced by sophomore Percy Taumaelau at right tackle and the Ute offensive front hardly missed a beat. "Percy Taumaelau stepped up and played a great game," said starting left tackle John Cullen.

Bergstrom's loss could have been devastating, but Cullen did his best to make his injury serve as a positive.

That was something that no one expects to happen, especially (to) a guy like Tony," he said. "We knew that we had to play this game for Tony — that's the first thing I said when we got off the field. I said that if you need a little juice, we got our leader right here standing behind us not being able to play his last game against BYU. If you need something extra to play for, there he is right there."

The Ute offensive front responded to Cullen's call and steadily started to assert itself as the game wore on.

The Cougar defense threw a variety of blitz packages at the U. throughout the game. Wynn took some hits, including a monster hit sustained with 10:30 left in the 2nd quarter, but finished the game without being thrown for a single sack.

"My hat's off to the O-line," said quarterback Jordan Wynn. "I was just standing back there with time all night. I would just drop back and just start bouncing there because they were giving me so much time."

During the second half, the Ute front began to assert its will on the Cougar defensive front, leading to 215 yards gained on the ground.

"We knew that if we were able to run the ball successfully, that it would be a tougher game for them," said Cullen. "You can just see it in people's eyes and in their body motions, you can tell when they feel that these guys are moving it on us and we got to step it up. We kept it going as an O-line, and it was a great thing to see, especially against a defensive front like (BYU.)"

Would-be Cougars step up big

A couple of players who completed high school dreaming of playing for the Cougars stepped up big for the Utes on the Cougars' homefield.

Tight end Jake Murphy, who signed a letter of intent with BYU before transferring to Utah post-mission, was able to step up, catching Utah's go-ahead touchdown pass from 30 yards out with 32 seconds left in the first half.

"Jake stepped up tonight and made some great catches," said Coach Kyle Whittingham.

Trevor Reilly, who had BYU as his top choice out of high school, stepped up from his defensive end spot to force a couple of fumbles.

"Coaches put us in situations to make plays, and I'm sure that anyone else in that situation would have done the same," said Reilly. "Any time you're able to beat a rival it feels great. I'm just glad to have had the opportunity to be a part of this two years in a row."

email: bgurney@desnews.com