This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Corvallis, Ore. • Every Utah-biased viewer shared the same thought: Just give him the ball.
They saw it throughout the game: Devontae Booker hurdling a defender. Devontae Booker breaking a tackle. Devontae Booker getting yards on a night when no one else could.
Give him the ball. Give him the ball.
He might've said it himself once or twice during the game.
"I don't know if they listened," Booker said, shrugging his shoulders. "I guess they did."
Maybe the Utes coaching heard the collective screaming across the West, at TV sets or even on the sidelines. Or maybe they just had seen enough for themselves just how effective the 5-foot-11 running back could be, even when Oregon State knew what was coming.
They gave Booker the ball, and he did what he does: He broke a tackle, another, and was in.
"We just overcame adversity," he said in a postgame interview, moments after bursting forth for his 19-yard, game-winning gain.
Booker wasn't the Utes' best offensive option- well, actually he was, but it's more accurate to call him the only option.
On 32 carries, he churned and dodged and sprinted his way to 229 yards, the fifth-highest total in program history. The Beavers keyed on him, and he still found ways to move forward, going so far as to leap over a defender on his way to a nine-yard gain.
By the end of it, tight end Westlee Tonga suggested, the Beavers had enough of Booker.
"It didn't really look like they were super excited to tackle him," he said.
The rest of the team, even the defense that had held so long, was tiring, but Booker saved his best stuff for the fourth quarter. A 53-yard run, his longest of the evening, to get all the way down to the six.
Booker run. Booker run. Booker run. Suddenly it was 4th and one.
A yard out from the end zone and the game on the line, Utah didn't overthink it. They gave Booker the ball, and he came out on the other side. Utah had been waiting for that signal all night: touchdown.
He followed that up with more: He had three rushes in the first overtime, the last of which was a 15-yard touchdown dash to his right. And the game-winning score - well, who else could it be?
"The guy's a beast," Kyle Whittingham said. "I think he's the best back in the Pac-12. He certainly was huge for us tonight."
The Utes spent the bye week reflecting who would be its starting quarterback, and Kendal Thompson and Travis Wilson both played, with mostly ineffective results.
But the only back Utah needed, the one who came through, was the one they had all along.
firstname.lastname@example.org Devontae Booker churns his way to win
• Booker scores all three Utah touchdowns, including game-winner in 2OT
• Booker's 229 yards is the fifth-best total in program history.