Determination gives Utes the edge.

By By Paige Fieldsted

By Paige Fieldsted

Overtime isn’t something the Utes are familiar with.

In fact the last time Utah played in an overtime game was almost four years when they beat BYU 41-34 in 2005; a time in which most of the current Utah players were still in high school.

Despite the inexperience with playing after regulation Utah looked more composed and stronger than they did the entire rest of the game against Air Force.

“We certainly stepped up in the OT,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. “That’s not the team to try and get involved in an overtime game with but our guys gutted it out and continued to fight.”

Utah got two of their eight first downs in the fourth quarter using eight plays to gain the 25 yards for the score. Eddie Wide ran the ball one-yard for the second touchdown of the game.

With the game in their control all the Utes had to do was keep Air Force out of the end zone. The defense, which had played 39 of the 60 minutes, did just that, holding Air Force on fourth and two.

The Falcons ran an option play up the middle, a play they had been successful on throughout the game.

“There was no trickery or anything,” said linebacker Stevenson Sylvester. “We knew they were going to go with the option, that’s their bread and butter, so we just toughened up on that last series and got the stop.”

Although the Utes had struggled against the Falcons run game throughout regulation, giving up 254 rushing yards, they held Air Force to just 14 rushing yards in the overtime.

“It’s tough to play Air Force in OT because you know its four-down territory. To stop that option attack on three downs is difficult enough let alone four,” Whittingham said. “I’m really pleased with our defensive play. I think our defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage.”

Utah relied on their past experience with close games to get them through the overtime, saying that belief in themselves was key to pulling out the win.

“We’ve been in situations like this more than once,” Sylvester said. “Nobody wilted. Everyone knew we were going to pull it out. We battled, we’re tough and nobody pointed any fingers, we just found a way to win.”

After holding the Utes to just six first downs and 242 yards through the first four quarters of play Air Force won the toss and chose to play defense.

Whittingham and the Utes chose to play from the south side of the stadium; the end zone where the MUSS is.

“We purposely chose to play in the south end in front of the MUSS student section,” Whittingham said. “The fans really got into it and really sparked our performance.”

Whittingham said the team buying into the system, a trend that started last season, has impacted their ability to win close games.

“We have built that kind of mentality, where we know we can find ways to win close games,” Whittingham said. “Last season, the guys really started believing in what we’re selling. Our team will never give up and will always believe.”