Just when you think you had seen everything, the Holy War somehow finds a way for another Hollywood ending as both BYU and Utah showed why its one the greatest rivalries in the country.
No matter if you were cheering for the red or the blue, the game came down to the last possession again and had fans at home, and at Rice-Eccles Stadium, on their feet.
For Cougar fans, the loss was demoralizing after dominating the game for three quarters on the road. In fact, in the 60-minute game, the Cougars led for the first 57 minutes and kept Rice-Eccles as quiet as its ever been this season. But like the Utes have shown throughout the current eight-game series winning streak, the game isn’t over until the fat lady sings as Utah rallied for an incredible 35-27 come-from-behind victory.
Utah Fans Praise BYU Performance
Utah came into Saturday’s game as a double-digit favorite for the first time since 2004. After the Utes claimed the Pac-12 South title with Arizona State’s loss to Oregon two weeks ago, Utah fans came into Saturday’s Holy War showdown extremely confident, with many expecting a blowout win at home on Senior Night.
However, when fans exited the stadium Saturday night, many were just glad to go home with the victory as their hearts started beating again. A number of fans even took to social media to give props to BYU for its performance telling Cougar fans ,”Be proud of your team and to go win your bowl game.” Here are just some of a number of tweets about the game and BYU’s strong showing.
You might not want to hear it right now but y'all played one hell of a game! You've got an absolute baller at QB for 3 more years. Hold your head high and go win your bowl game.
— Dustin – '18 South Champs, '08 Natty Champs (@DustinEdits) November 25, 2018
Huge fan of:
-The Rivalry Game
-And now of Zach Wilson. That kid is gonna have one helluva career at BYU
— Golden Whetman (@dakicker11) November 25, 2018
Y fans. Be proud of your team. Those dudes fought hard tonight. #GoCougs in your bowl game.
— UteDaddy (@utedaddy) November 25, 2018
I trust that Utah will figure this out at Half Time…still a very frustrating and embarrassing First Half. Based on the First Half, if BYU wins, they deserve it. But don’t think Utah can just drop this game and then magically show up in the Ship. ??♂️ hope they finish this one
— Isaac Asiata (@AsiataFive4) November 25, 2018
Great game BYU! Fun game to watch. Now that my heart is beating again.
— wendy parikh (@1138wendoid) November 25, 2018
Just got home. Couple thoughts.
Props to BYU. They had a great game plan. Executed it awesome. Had phenomenal heart.
Tip of my hat to Zach Wilson. He was the catalyst to everything.
Good teams find ways to win.
Lastly – let’s never play the last game of the year again.
— UteChap (@UteChap) November 25, 2018
Takeaways From The Game
Corbin Kaufusi Is A Warrior
The BYU senior didn’t get to play on Senior Night against New Mexico State at LaVell Edwards Stadium two weeks ago after he was ruled out with a season-ending injury. With a future with the NFL to prepare for — as well as three separate surgeries needed to repair a broken pinkie, torn triceps and an ankle injury — Kaufsi sought a second opinion from doctors.
The diagnosis was the same: his ankle was shredded and would require surgery. However, Kaufusi was told that he couldn’t do anymore damage by playing if he wanted to play through the pain. Not only did he play through the pain, but the senior also finished the game with seven tackles, despite being regularly double-teamed by Ute players.
Contrary to what many think, BYU was not playing at full strength. While the Utes were without starting quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss, the Cougars were even more banged up than the Utes. The Cougars running back depth took such a hit this year that the Cougars converted Matt Hadley, a former linebacker, into a running back late this season. The fifth string back still put on a show with two touchdown runs before leaving the game in the third quarter with a game-ending injury.
Isaiah Kaufusi, who was making a living in the Utah backfield, also went down with an injury and would not return for the remainder of the game. In many spots Saturday night, the Cougars were down to their fourth and fifth string guys and because of the lack of team depth, allowed the Utes to score 28 unanswered points to end the game.
Play To Win The Game!
After BYU went up 20-0 at the half, you knew Utah was going to come out with adjustments in the second half. That’s just Utah football. This combined with BYU’s coaching staff to take their foot off the gas, gave the Utes the opportunity to make a comeback.
With many proclaiming this Utah team is its most talented team ever, the fact that the Cougars went toe-to-toe with the Utes shows that the program is on the right track, even if the wins aren’t piling up at the moment.
The freshman sensation finished the night completing 20 of 29 passes for 204 yards, two touchdowns and also ran for a game-high 73 yards in the loss. While he did take some sacks, the freshman made plenty of plays with his feet to keep plays and drives alive. Utah’s defense, which came in ranked in the top 10 in a number of categories, had no answer for him in the first half.
Then the second half and the coaching changes came. Up 20-0, Wilson made a costly error with a pick-6 to give Utah some momentum and its first points of the game. However, the freshman then quickly answered as the Cougars drove right down the field and capped it off with a 1-yard touchdown run by Hadley midway through the third quarter to go up 27-7.
Yet despite the answer, and back with a 20-point lead nearing the end of the third quarter, the coaching staff seemed as if it was enough to win the game and were just content with holding onto the lead and running out the clock.
Instead of keeping their foot on the gas, the coaching staff turned Wilson into a game manager and went away from his strengths. It was obvious what the coaching staff wanted to do as the Cougars simply mailed it in as they ran the ball up the middle on 3rd and 9 from its own 26-yard line at the start of the fourth quarter. And the Utes made the Cougars pay.
For BYU fans, it was woulda, coulda, shoulda all over again as Utah rallied for another victory to push the streak to 8 games. What were your thoughts on the game?