Bitter disappointment

By Bryan Chouinard , Asst. Sports Editor

The 91st installment of the Holy War lived up to expectations Saturday night when8212;for the second time in five years8212;60 minutes of play could not determine a winner.

After falling behind 20-6 going into the fourth quarter, Utah rallied to tie the game on a 29-yard field goal from Joe Phillips to force overtime. Phillips hit his fifth field goal of the night in the first possession of overtime, but a 25-yard pass from BYU quarterback Max Hall to tight end Andrew George sealed the win for the Cougars.

“It felt like somebody hit me,” Phillips said. “It was just a horrible feeling. My heart just sunk.”

Phillips went five for five in his first rivalry game, something he said he has dreamed of since he was a young boy.

“It’s been a dream of mine to play in this game my whole life,” Phillips said. “To be able to perform well was a dream come true. The outcome wasn’t planned, but I’m proud of all my brothers on this team.”

The Utes looked as though they were firing on all cylinders in the first quarter. Freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn went six for six in the first 15 minutes of play, and the Utes jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after back-to-back makes from Phillips in the first quarter.

But then, the Utah offense hit a wall. The Utes gave up 20 unanswered points to the Cougars and were held scoreless throughout the second and third quarters.

“I’m proud of the way our guys kept fighting,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “We were down 20-6, and they hung in there and kept battling. They never quit.”

Utah struggled to find any momentum on either side of the ball, as the team racked up 12 penalties for a total of 113 yards, many of which came on personal foul calls.

“It didn’t seem like we could get any breaks,” said Utah linebacker Mike Wright. “The refs were all over us, and they were on top of things. Some of those calls didn’t go our way, but you got to fight through that. We didn’t play very disciplined. We needed to be a little bit smarter. Some of those penalties hurt us real bad.”

“(Penalties) always hurt,” Wynn said. “We just didn’t play well tonight.”

Wynn finished the night going 21 of 41 for 198 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. His lone interception came with less than a minute to go in the first half. Down 10-6, Wynn was picked off by BYU’s Andrew Rich. Rich returned the interception 52 yards to set up a 37-yard Mitch Payne field goal that sent the Cougars to the locker room up seven.

“I just got to play better,” Wynn said. “I can’t throw that pick that gave them three points at the end of the half. It was definitely a tough loss, definitely one that’s going to stick with me for the rest of the year.”

Despite the first half, it was Wynn who led the Utes on the comeback trail in the fourth quarter, leading the Utes on three scoring drives in the final quarter of regulation.

“(Wynn) has a bright future ahead of him,” Whittingham said. “He didn’t make every throw, and he missed some open receivers, but I’m proud of the kid.”

Although this was Wynn’s first rivalry game, it was the last for some. Mike Wright and Stevenson Sylvester played in their final Holy War on Saturday, and though the seniors still have a bowl game to play, their final regular season game will stick with them for a long time.

“It’s real tough,” Sylvester said. “It’s a rivalry game. We played our asses off in this game, and hats off to BYU8212;luck was on their side today.”

“It was a tough loss,” Wright said. “I thought we played well enough to win this game, and we just weren’t able to make plays in the end.”

The Utes will now turn their attention to the bowl season. Utah will wait to see where and who it will play this December, but it will likely take part in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. Utah will be looking to keep the nation’s longest active bowl-winning streak alive and improve it to nine.

“Utah football doesn’t lose bowl games,” Wright said. “We’re going to come back and fight hard and finish off this season the right way. We’re going to send off these seniors the right way no matter what bowl game we play in.”

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Thien Sok/The Daily Utah Chronicle

Stevenson Sylvester hangs his head as he leaves the field after the Utes lost 26-23 in overtime. The team will now look to send the seniors, such as Sylvester, out with a win in the bowl game.