Utah holds off BYU in 20-19 ‘Holy War’ win despite giving up 6 turnovers

Posted at 9:25 PM, Sep 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-11 00:04:31-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah and BYU renewed their regular season rivalry with a game at Rice Eccles Stadium Saturday—and turnovers proved to be the order of the day as Utah brought home the 20-19 win.

BYU began with the ball, but it was a rocky start for the Cougars. Utah picked off Taysom Hill on the very first play, with Sunia Tauteoli taking it all the way for a touchdown.

Utah forced BYU to punt on their next possession, but BYU got in on the turnover action early as well. Kai Nacua recovered a Raelon Singleton fumble after Singleton reeled in a short pass from Troy Williams but couldn’t hang on downfield.

BYU had excellent field position but soon faced 4th-and-6, however, a fake field goal earned the Cougars a new set of downs. Still, that drive stalled, resulting in a field goal and a 7-3 game.

Harvey Langi forced a fumble out of Joe Williams on Utah’s next drive, giving BYU the ball again. That drive terminated in another field goal, making it 7-6 Utah with just over 5 minutes left in the first quarter.

The teams traded punts, then Nacua notched on another turnover as he intercepted Williams. BYU would punt on the resulting drive, and Utah was looking like they were going to score after converting a 3rd-and-short in the red zone. But, Nacua picked off the home team yet again, this time in the end zone, to give BYU the ball back.

BYU chewed up 80 yards in five plays after taking possession, and Hill capped things off with a 39-yard touchdown run to make it 13-7 BYU with 4:06 left in the second half.

Utah responded on their next drive, a 10-play, 72-yard affair that finished with a 21-yard strike from Williams to Tim Patrick with just 17 seconds left in the half. That touchdown gave Utah the lead back at 14-13.

The second half started much slower than the first, and the score would remain unchanged until Andy Phillips kicked a 47-yard field goal for Utah with about 8 minutes left in the third quarter.

BYU’s next drive would bring about the return of the turnover, as a Taysom Hill pass got deflected upward and came down into the hands of Utah’s Sunia Taiteoli for the sixth turnover of the contest.

Utah would be forced to punt after going three and out, but they got the ball back a short time later on yet another interception, this one courtesy Reginald Porter.

Kai Nacua was flagged for targeting on a hit after a pass from Williams to Simpkins, and after a review the call was upheld and Nacua was ejected. BYU Head Coach Kalani Sitake was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct while arguing that call.

BYU pulled down another interception near the goal line on the very next play, but another Cougar, Austin McChesney, was flagged for targeting. He was also ejected after the call was reviewed and upheld.

BYU punted out of their own end zone after failing to capitalize on the interception, but Utah committed their sixth turnover of the night as they fumbled the return, setting BYU up at about midfield.

But BYU couldn’t get any offense going, and much of the fourth quarter was eaten away during a long drive from Utah that went 19 plays and ended with a short field goal from Andy Phillips to make it 20-13 Utah with just under three minutes left in the game.

BYU began marching down the field and made it into enemy territory with less than a minute on the clock. A short pass from a pressured Taysom Hill set the Cougars up with 1st and goal at the 2 yard line. After drawing a flag for delay of game, Taysom Hill took off running after facing pressure and marched into the end zone, arms raised in triumph.

Rather than take the kick and send it to overtime, BYU opted to make the 2-point attempt. However, Hill could not duplicate his success on the ground, coming up short on the ensuing run.

Utah recovered the resulting on-side kick attempt to secure the win. Watch Good Day Utah Sunday for highlights from the game.