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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony
Print Issues

Johnson redeems Utes in last two minutes

By Nick Pappas

Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.

That’s what Red said to Andy Dufresne in “The Shawshank Redemption.”

With two minutes left in the game Thursday night, I found myself on the verge of insanity. The lights at Rice-Eccles Stadium, cast with the shadows of moths, were soon to go out on the entire Utah season.

Eight points in two minutes is an impossible task. A reporter sitting next to me had already written the first line of his breaking story:

“The dream has died.”

Utah had played a miserable second half, allowing Oregon State to score 19 straight points. The goat was Brian Johnson. Throughout the game, the Ute quarterback seemed to hold the ball like it was a precious keepsake, taking four sacks along the way. Two of the Beavers touchdowns were on his shoulders, one an interception for a touchdown, the other a fumble deep in Utah territory.

After the last Oregon State score, indifferent Ute fans began to file out of the stadium. Two minutes is a long time to wait, and they would have more luck beating traffic than the Utes beating the Beavers.

Johnson said it best after the game8212;”they were about to miss a show.”

The show began on a four-play, 60-yard scoring drive that ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Bradon Godfrey. The score was 28-26.

The second act was a controversial pass interference call, followed by a sprint by Johnson into the end zone for a two-point conversion. The score was tied at 28-28.

The reporter’s laptop next to me was closed. The dream wasn’t dead. The crowd was in an uproar. I was about to explode.

There is a rule in the press box at Rice-Eccles Stadium8212;or any stadium for that matter8212;no emotions allowed. Cheering for one team over the other is blasphemy in journalism and one who commits this offense is subject to quick dismissal and possible spankings. That’s why four reporters for The Daily Utah Chronicle ran out of the press box. That’s why, when the elevator wasn’t coming fast enough, we sprinted down six flights of stairs to get to the field.

The show had a twist. Oregon State was forced to punt, and Utah was able to set up a last-second field goal for “the King.” The wind was at the back of Louie Sakoda as he took the field. The ball went through the uprights the same way it had 47 times before.

And then, total mayhem.

Hope is something that can’t stay bottled up. The fans who believed, the fans who stayed, swarmed Sakoda as fellow players held him on their shoulders.

The unsung hero, though, was Johnson. He swam through a river of sludge for 58 minutes and came out clean on the other side.

In the press conference, after the chants of “Louie” began to die down, Johnson sat in front of the same boring reporters with the same boring questions. He kept alluding to how he hadn’t wanted the loss to be on his shoulders, how he knew he’d had a bad first half and didn’t want to let his team down.

He wanted someone to ask the question that was running in circles through his head: “Brian, how does it feel to be redeemed?”

No one did, and it didn’t matter. After his round of questions was over, Johnson looked across the press conference table at defensive end Paul Kruger. Kruger looked back, and they both started giggling. Not laughing, but giggling like they were back in grade school.

It’s hard to contain yourself when the impossible becomes possible.

Yes, Utah didn’t play a perfect game, but Johnson and the rest of the players learned a lesson that will carry them through the rest of their careers. No team is perfect. It’s how you deal with the imperfection that defines you.

The dream is alive. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

[email protected]

Nick Pappas

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