SEATTLE Washington coach Ty Willingham accepted the 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration by his quarterback, Jake Locker. But he didn't like the idea that emotion can impact a close game like the one the Huskies lost to BYU 28-27 on Saturday in Husky Stadium.
"It's unfortunate, but it's one that they almost have to call. It really should be a no-call, but it's one that they have to call when they see it," said Willingham.
"The rule's the rule and I'd accept it if it were my team," said BYU's Bronco Mendenhall.
"The game is an emotional game," said Willingham. "We cannot play it without emotion, and therefore we are going to celebrate. The key is trying to manufacture the right celebration that does not belittle the game or the sportsmanship that should be part of the game."
Willingham said when BYU blocked the PAT after the penalty in the closing seconds on Saturday, it was the play of the game.
"It changes everything," he said. "I don't think there's any question about that."
Not that he was happy about that, either, adding, "We count on ourselves being able to protect and get off the kick."
Cougar QB Max Hall said whatever break BYU had with the penalty at the end, evened things up.
"I felt we were due. They had a couple of plays that bounced their way and I thought it was our turn," he said.
Aside from that game-winning extra-point block by BYU defensive end Jan Jorgensen, the Cougar's biggest statement here was the 84-yard, 9-play drive for the winning touchdown with 3:31 to play.
It came after an impressive 11-play, 97-yard drive by the Cougar offense that ended in a Harvey Unga fumble into the end zone when he was hit at the goal line.
"That drive was just a gauge of where our offense is right now," said Mendenhall.
With 8:10 left in a game tied at 21, BYU's defense stopped the Huskies and Max Hall used Unga and huge passes to Dennis Pitta to set up a 15-yard scoring strike to Pitta with 3:31 to play.
"Their tight ends obviously posed some problems," Willingham said. "They are big tight ends that move well and catch the football."
Pitta, the nation's leading receiver coming into the game, had 10 catches for 148 yards and one touchdown.
Unga had 23 carries for 136 yards and was not caught for a loss.
"That is a good football team," said Willingham. "That running back they have is very difficult to tackle. He's a big man that runs well. He's nifty, he catches the ball.
Hall, who completed 30 of 41 passes for 338 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, had a pass efficiency rating of 161.69. And he praised BYU's O-line.
"They're big, they're mean and they get after people," he said. "I hardly got touched. Those guys are the reason we won the game and the reason we methodically drove the ball down the field those last two drives."
Hall nothing but praise for Unga.
"Harvey is our guy," he said. "I wouldn't want to have any other guy carrying the ball. To come back and drive it down the field again like we did says a lot about our guys and our offensive line.
"Our coaches, Robert Anae and Brandon Doman, had the right plays called and knew what we needed to do to drive it back down the field and we did."
For the second week in a row, Pitta turned in big plays, including a 29-yard catch on a third-down at BYU's 5-yard line."Dennis is just a good football player," said Hall. "He's fast, strong and can get open, especially when we were backed up at our goal line and he was covered man-on-man. He is a big play guy and I'm glad we have him."
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