PROVO — Tyler Huntley overcame a truckload of sloppy mistakes to lead Utah past a punchless BYU offense that couldn’t take advantage Saturday night in LaVell Edwards before a crowd of 63,470.
In the showdown between Huntley, the previous one-game starter, and the 16-game starting veteran BYU junior Tanner Mangum. Huntley, in his second start, delivered more chunk plays and that proved huge in this extension of Utah’s win streak over the Cougars to seven straight.
Mangum, who led BYU to 13-unanswered points and had a game-winning drive attempt in the last minute, had two receivers drop passes to spoil a last-ditch effort to win. Utah 19, BYU 13.
Mangum might ask his coaches to put him in the shotgun more because on his fourth quarter 76-yard scoring drive and TD pass to Trey Dye, he looked as good as he has all season.
Utah’s offense looked crisp and explosive and Huntley quickly put his speed and athleticism on display. He was the difference-maker. And he had to step over a lot of mud to do it. That is a tribute to the Ute sophomore in this kind of atmosphere and emotion a rivalry game brings. Huntley had no fear.
BYU’s defense made plays, but Utah could argue its offense made enough mistakes to last a month. There were holding penalties, a targeting call, and the ejection of linebacker Sunia Tauteoli whose hit popped the helmet off of a prone Mangum. A pass interference call in the end zone took away Darren Carrington II's second-quarter TD.
For the Utes, it was feet meet gun and bullets.
And that’s not counting a multitude of times Huntley had to start plays scrambling for the handle on bad snaps.
Still, Huntley was a star on this night. His 5-yard dash right after halftime to put Utah up 16-0 was pure DNA in motion.
Huntley was elusive and his elite foot speed, durability, strength, and quick delivery were impressive.
Mangum took flak all week for BYU’s offensive failures in a shutout loss to LSU. This time the junior avoided the disastrous start he had the last time he faced Utah in the 2015 Las Vegas Bowl, during which he had five turnovers that led to a 35-0 Ute lead.
The turnovers did come. They have just spread them around in the course of the game.
Mangum and BYU’s offense looked better than a week ago. It just wasn’t explosive when matched against Utah.
Mangum spread his three interceptions from the first to third quarters. He had back-to-backs to start the first half, a huge factor in Utah taking control.
BYU's clunky offense did move the ball better than a week ago, but it wasn’t smooth and those interceptions were costly.
Mangum’s first interception came on BYU’s second series of the game, a second-and-9 that set up Utah’s first score, a 21-yard field goal by Matt Gay. His second interception came on BYU’s first possession of the third quarter, a tipped pass by lineman Filipo Mokofisi that the big guy hauled down. The third was an attempt at a long pass to Talon Shumway, picked off by Jaylon Johnson.
In the second quarter, Mangum followed through with five-and-a-half minute, 15-play drive that ended in a missed field goal by Rhett Almond on a low snap.
Before Almond’s field-goal miss, Mangum hit Talon Shumway for a short 4-yard TD but it was nullified by a pick play called on wide out Aleva Hifo.
Progress? Perhaps, because freshman Ula Tolutau’s 1-yard TD run after a Huntley third quarter fumble broke an eight-quarter BYU scoring drought.
BYU used a lot of jet-sweep action against the Utes, settling on some run plays to Jonah Trinnaman and Beau Tanner. Mangum had success hitting Matt Bushman and Talon Shumway to move the chains, but in the first half, it was a road to nothing.
Utah ran Huntley early on multiple carries to start the game. He threw well in the pocket and threw great on the run — right or left. It didn't matter. He threw great picking the ball off the turf, too.
Huntley spread the ball to seven different receivers. And yes, Carrington II is a big time target that Utah acquired in the heat of summer. BYU won't be the only team that struggles to match up with the former Oregon Duck.
It was evident at the end, this is a kid who earned the starting role because he is multifaceted, dangerous and a big-time playmaker.
Huntley was 27 of 36 for 300 yards and no interceptions. Mangum was 21 of 39 for 170 yards, 1 TD and 3 interceptions. Huntley had an efficiency of 145, Mangum was 83.5, due to the picks.
Huntley will only get better.
As for Mangum, maybe he still can.