PROVO, Utah (AP) — BYU has worked to build itself into a team with a tough defense and efficient offense, following a blueprint laid down by archrival Utah.
The Cougars finally found a way to beat the Utes — using that same blueprint.
Jaren Hall threw three touchdown passes and totaled 241 yards of offense, helping BYU topple No. 21 Utah 23-17 on Saturday night.
Tyler Allgeier added 97 yards on 27 carries as the Cougars snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Utes. It was BYU’s first victory over their rivals since 2009 and the team’s largest margin of victory in the series since 1996.
BYU ran for 219 yards, becoming the first team to gain at least 200 rushing yards against Utah since Texas also rushed for 231 yards in the 2019 Alamo Bowl.
“I would have bet my house going in that we would not lose the line of scrimmage,” Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said “I never have seen that coming where we didn’t control the line of scrimmage. That’s our M.O., that’s what we do best. But we surrendered nearly 250 yards rushing, couldn’t get a sack.”
Micah Bernard ran for 146 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries to lead Utah. Charlie Brewer threw for 147 yards and a touchdown for the Utes, who trailed the entire game.
Utah cut BYU’s lead to 23-17 on a 22 yard run from Bernard with 9:31 left. The Cougars responded with a six-minute drive that ended in a 21-yard field goal from Jake Oldroyd, effectively ending the Utes’ comeback hopes.
“Just love the fight in our players,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “It was good to get this win.”
BYU forced a pair of Utah turnovers early in the first quarter. Charlie Brewer threw an interception that Chaz Ah You returned to the Utah 30 on the Utes’ first drive. Tavion Thomas fumbled the ball on Utah’s second drive, and it bounced to Isaiah Herron at the Utah 42.
The Cougars did not do much with either takeaway, getting only a 37-yard field goal from Oldroyd out of two drives starting in Utah territory.
Still, those defensive plays offered a sign of what was ahead for both BYU and Utah.
“I know anyone on that defense would have sacrificed anything to get that win, and that’s what we did,” BYU linebacker Payton Wilgar said.
BYU stayed on the ground to finally reach the end zone in the second quarter. The Cougars extended their lead to 10-0 on a 4-yard toss from Hall to Neil Pau’u. They ran 12 times on the 14-play drive, highlighted by an 18-yard scramble down the sideline by Hall on a 4th-and-11 situation from the Utah 36.
Utah cut the lead to 10-7 on a 20-yard pass from Brewer to a wide-open Brant Kuithe. BYU stopped the Utes on 4th down at the Cougar 8 to keep them from taking their first lead. The Cougars then marched 93 yards in 11 plays, culminating in a 2-yard TD catch by Samson Nacua, extending the lead to 16-7 just before halftime. Hall danced out of pressure and tossed a 33-yard dart to Keanu Hill a play earlier to set up Nacua’s score.
Hall made a pair of big runs late in the third quarter to set up a 4-yard pass to Gunner Romney that extended BYU’s lead to 23-7 with 38 seconds remaining in the period.
He ultimately totaled 92 yards on eight carries.
“He was able to avoid pressure by using his legs,” Sitake said. “He was able to extend drives by using his legs.”
Utah: The Utes started with a thud on offense after committing two quick turnovers. Utah never found a rhythm through four quarters and could not sustain drives, going 2 of 9 on third down and 0 of 2 on fourth down.
BYU: Hall used his elusiveness and speed to create big plays that kept multiple drives alive. It complemented a dominating performance in the trenches for the Cougars. BYU outgained Utah in both rushing yards and passing yards.
THIRD DOWN SUCCESS
BYU went 11 of 19 on third down against Utah. The Cougars’ success at extending drives allowed them to hold the ball for 11 more minutes. They ran 76 total plays while holding the Utes to 51 plays.
“You gotta get stops,” Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd. “We did control them on most first downs and second down, but too many third-down conversions — it’s as simple as it gets, we gave them too many third-down conversions.”
NO HAVOC PLAYS
Utah’s defense did not live up to its Sack Lake City nickname on Saturday night. The Utes generated zero sacks, after failing to contain Hall multiple times on broken plays. Utah also did not generate a turnover and finished minus-2 in the turnover margin against the Cougars.
BYU, on the other hand, had a pair of sacks and allowed the Utes to gain only 340 total yards — one week after giving up 345 passing yards to Arizona.
Utah will likely fall out of the AP Top 25 after losing to BYU.
Utah: At San Diego State on Saturday
BYU: Hosts no. 23 Arizona State on Saturday.