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Huge mistakes doomed the Cougars in 17-16 loss

Published November 27, 2010 7:40 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

What else did you expect? Those are actually the words of Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, but they pretty much sum up the latest iteration of the BYU-Utah rivalry football game. The Utes won it, 17-16, when Brandon Burton flew in from the left side and got a hand on Mitch Payne's 42-yard field goal attempt as the final horn sounded. Bedlam erupted, as can be imagined, at Rice-Eccles Stadium as the Utes finally got a win on the last play of the game — like BYU did last year and here in 2006 (Beck to Harline). "It was a really hardfought game. Both sides I think competed well from beginning to end. It came down to the last play as many of these games do. Great college football game," was BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall's opening statement. For the Cougars, who fell to 6-6 and will await their bowl destination next week, it was a case of what might have been. A big case. There was Brandon Bradley's fumbled interception, Brian Logan's perfectly defended pass — only to see it pop into Devonte Christopher's arms for a touchdown. There was a shanked punt hitting BYU's B.J. Peterson — that Utah recovered. There was the botched handoff between Jake Heaps, Bryan Kariya and Joshua Quezada. And the list goes on. To a man (at least the players I talked to), the Cougars said they didn't give the game away. They said Utah earned it. Some BYU players were miffed that Utah players got in Payne's face and taunted him after the kick was blocked, but there were no Max Hall moments from the Cougars this time. All in all, they were gracious in defeat. "No, not at all," said J.J. Di Luigi, when asked if the Cougars gave the game away. "I think we played our hearts out, and things just happened like that. " Of the feeling in the locker room, Di Luigi said: "We are disappointed that we lost. It is a big game and it came down to the wire, but it was a good game, and we are going to keep our heads up and look forward to the bowl game."——————————— Here's more from Mendenhall, who had to endure another of those crazy postgame interview sessions with the media outside the hallway that leads to the locker room while fans above him in the stands threw snow and ice and shouted derogatory slurs: On the mistakes:"I think there were a lot of mistakes at the end of the game. But you gotta credit the University of Utah for forcing a lot of those mistakes." Why three runs up the middle at the end of the game: "We felt really comfortable with Mitch Payne, once we were inside the 30 yard line that we would be good from there." What happened on the block: "Hard to say. I didn't see where it came from, exactly. So credit the University of Utah. We have to kick the ball to win, and they have to block it, so I am not sure where it came from." Say anything to Brandon Bradley, who fumbled: "Best in that situation to just cover it and get on the ground." On whether he thought Bradley was down: "I thought so. I had told them I was going to challenge it if they didn't review it. They happened to buzz them before that. But it looked to me like he was down." On the fourth-down pass in the third quarter that failed: "I didn't make the call, but I did make the call to go for it." On the emotion of the game: "The emotion goes from beginning to end in this game. It really doesn't change — the first play or the last play. On where the Cougars go from here: "Continue to improve. I think we've had a remarkable turnaround, and we had this game within our grasp, and couldn't kick it through to win. But I think we've made consistent improvement. I think we improved again today. On Jake Heaps' play: "Jake did a really nice job today. He managed the game really well, he threw the football really well. He managed everything. I thought he did a really nice job."On how comfortable he was that Mitch Payne would make it: "I was completely comfortable." On the defensive effort: "I think we have played good defense the last seven weeks or eight weeks. " On whether he's eager for a bowl game: "I am eager just to continue to improve our team."




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