Cougars Snap Nine-Game Win Streak, Utes Lose in Provo For First Time Since 2009


Jack Gambassi

The University of Utah’s Micah Bernard (#2) pushes for the endzone during their game versus the BYU Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, UT on Sept. 11, 2021. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Cole Bagley, Sports Editor


In a game that already had so much riding on it due to its historic rivalry, the University of Utah came up short in their quest to achieve ten straight victories, something that has never been accomplished between the two teams. Despite somewhat of a superior roster, BYU clearly wanted it more as they tormented Utah on both sides of the ball and emerged victorious, 26-17.

Jaren Hall and the BYU defense were the stars of the show as Hall’s mobility and versatility proved to be unstoppable. Finishing 18-30 for 149 yards and three touchdowns, Hall stepped up to the plate and fueled the Cougars’ victory. Notably, Hall also ran all over the field as he recorded 92 yards on 8 rushing attempts (11.5 average), exposing the defense and breaking away for several big gains on key plays.

Additionally, the BYU defense suffocated Utah all night long, recording two sacks, five tackles for loss, one interception and a fumble. Utah also struggled on third downs, finishing 2-9 and only taking 51 snaps as a result. 

Ultimately, the stars had finally aligned for BYU as they simply wanted it more, won the turnover battle, owned the line of scrimmage and ended the nine-game win-streak. 

“Congrats to Kalani [Sitake] and that football team — they played outstanding. Give them credit: they won the football game tonight. They beat us at the line of scrimmage, which I would bet my house going in that we would not lose. I never would’ve seen that coming where we didn’t control the line of scrimmage. Thats our M.O., thats what we do best and we surrendered nearly 250 yards rushing,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said.

To begin the game, it was all BYU in the first half as mistakes and takeaways plagued the Utah offense. 

On their first defensive drive, BYU established a fierce pass rush which put the pressure on Utah quarterback Charlie Brewer and forced him to make some bad decisions. On the very first drive of the game, BYU brought three extra defenders on third down and Brewer delivered a poor pass right into the arms of defensive back Chaz Ah You.  

Luckily for the Utes, the defense came to play and linebacker Nephi Sewell came up big as he dropped running back Tyler Allgeier for a loss with the ball rolling out of bounds for a 7-yard loss. BYU would fail to convert the third down and end up punting instead of punishing Utah for their mistake.

As Utah retook possession and looked to erase their initial blunder, Tavion Thomas appeared to be creating some momentum on the ground with multiple notable gains. However, on another handoff up the middle, Thomas had the ball stripped and the Cougar defense came up with yet another takeaway. 

While BYU wouldn’t punish Utah with a touchdown, thanks to a heads up tip by safety Brandon McKinney who stopped a would-be touchdown pass with his fingertips, the Cougars posted the first points of the day on a 37-yard field goal by Jacob Oldroyd. 

Following another three-and-out by Utah, BYU’s offense found its groove on the ground as they orchestrated a 72-yard drive for six points. Hall and Allgeier were the main weapons as they earned 53 of the yards with their legs, including a fourth down conversion by Hall who escaped the pocket and ran up the sideline. 

Hall capped off the drive with a four-yard pass to Neil Pau’u and the Cougars led 10-0 with 10:37 remaining in the second quarter.

Finally, on the ensuing drive, Utah quickly responded behind the passing efforts of Brewer who drove them down the field and found Brant Kuithe across the middle of the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown pass. This seemed to settle Utah down a bit as they closed the gap and trailed 10-7 with 7:22 left in the second.

However, following a few changes of possession and a failed fourth down attempt by Utah inside the BYU red zone, Hall and the Cougar offense quickly marched down the field just before the half. 

Hall put together some notable gains, including a major hole in the Utah secondary and a 33-yard completion to Keeanu Hill. After setting up on the Utah two-yard line, Hall would find former Utah wide receiver Samson Nacua for a touchdown and BYU would take a 16-7 lead into half due to a missed PAT.

Unfortunately, it was more of the same struggles for Utah during the third quarter as their offense was held scoreless. BYU’s defense refused to give up anything as they were constantly in the Utah backfield, either rushing Brewer to release early or stopping the running backs cold in their tracks. 

The only score of the quarter came behind another well-orchestrated drive by Hall whose mobility gave the Utes nightmares all night defensively. Following a 23-yard escape by Hall up the right side, he’d find Gunner Romney in the back of the end zone for another BYU touchdown. Following the PAT, the Cougars led 23-7 with 38 seconds left in the third quarter.

Shortly after a quick field goal by Utah to open the third and a three-and-out by the Cougars, running back Micah Bernard resurrected Utah’s hope with pure will and his legs. On a drive that went 55 yards, Bernard accounted for 41, including a 22-yard touchdown run as he bounced off of multiple defenders and drove himself into the end zone with multiple Cougars draped all over him. Following the PAT, Utah only trailed 23-17 with 9:31 remaining in the game.

But BYU would not be denied as they were determined to end the streak. Following a drive that lasted just over six minutes, Hall and Allgeier would march the Cougars down the field, setting Oldroyd up for a 21-yard field goal that sealed the game.

On the ensuing drive, the streak would officially see its end as Brewer overthrew Britain Covey and BYU took over on downs. Following a first down, the Cougars assumed victory formation and fans rushed the field as BYU finally defeated Utah 26-17.

“This is a tough one, it really is,” Bernard said. “You know, nine in a row and we tried to make it ten. We had a good run. We won’t see these guys for a couple years so its tough we had to end it on this one. But we are going to come back harder and start a new streak.”

The Utes drop to 1-1 on the season as they come up short in Provo. The Utes will now travel to Carson, California to face San Diego State and attempt to get back on track before entering Pac-12 Conference play. The game will take place on Saturday, Sept. 18 with a kick-off of 5 p.m. MDT. The game can be viewed on the CBS Sports Network and as always, fans can listen to the game on the Home of the Utes, ESPN700 with Bill Riley and Scott Mitchell on the call.


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