August 7, 2007

November 22, 2003 - Utah at BYU

HOW IS IT GREAT? Utah was 8-2, 5-1, and one game away from clinching an OCC. Meanwhile, BYU was enjoying a season chalk-full of Poppinga victories and was riding high on some obscure consecutive-home-game-scoring-streak record. Apparently, BYU had managed to score in every home game since 1975. When this streak was brought to the attention of Urban Meyer and the Utah Utes, they promptly decided to end it. Just because.

The temperature at game-time was 19 degrees, and snow flurries throughout the game ensured it would be a defensive battle. While Utah was able to control the ball for nearly 37 minutes, they generally had a tough time moving the ball. Two first-half drives ended in turnovers (including a fumble on BYU's 19-yard line), but fortunately, Brian Borreson was able to nail a 41-yard FG in the second quarter.

On the other hand, BYU managed to advance the ball past their own 45 yard line just once. That drive ended in a missed 40-yard field goal.

Neither team racked up impressive offensive numbers, but Utah's defense provided enough fireworks to make up for that. They sent one Cougar QB off to the sidelines (Matt Berry) and thoroughly kicked the backup's trash (Jackson Browne). Special teams (Eric Weddle and Casey Evans, in particular) came up big with a forced fumble/recovery to seal the win and convince Toby Christensen to quit football and become a sideline reporter.

2007 RANKING: #23. With this win, Utah clinched its first OCC since 1957. Doing so by shutting out its rival on the road and ending their 361-straight-game scoring streak is just gravy. This game would be ranked higher if BYU had a better record (they finished the 2003 season with only four wins). Otherwise, this was a very satisfying victory.

FURTHER READING:
• Scoring Summary
2nd Quarter: UU - Borreson, Bryan 41 yd field goal, 08:43


FURTHER VIEWING:


WHAT THE PRESS HAD TO SAY:

OVER AND OUTRIGHT
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Utes End Y.'s Streak While Securing Title
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By Dirk Facer
Deseret Morning News
November 23, 2003

PROVO — Utah had quite a day at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Saturday's 3-0 victory over Brigham Young not only gave the Utes their first outright conference championship since 1957, it also gave them the distinction of being the first team in 33 years to hold the Cougars scoreless at home. It also brought an end to BYU's ongoing NCAA record streak of 361 straight games with points on the board.

The shutout compensated for a lack of offense on a cold, snowy day where the temperature at kickoff was 19 degrees with a windchill factor that made it feel like it was 6 degrees. However, it was considerably warmer in a crowded Utah locker room after the game.

That's when Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson presented the championship trophy and Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Erhardt officially invited the Utes (9-2, 6-1) to the Dec. 31 game (most likely against Southern Mississippi) in Memphis, Tenn.

It didn't take long for Utah coach Urban Meyer to accept.

"We'll see you in Memphis, baby," he responded before a round of cheers from players, coaches and well-wishers.

Championship hats and T-shirts were handed out as the Utes celebrated. They'll be sized for rings next week.

"I'm ecstatic. I can't even explain it," said senior safety Dave Revill. "I can't tell you how great it is."

Revill, who had an interception, was part of a dominant Utah defense. BYU, which lost starting quarterback Matt Berry to an elbow injury in the second quarter, was held to a very uncharacteristic 41 yards passing.

"That was one of the greatest, greatest defensive efforts I've ever seen," Meyer told his team. "Everybody who played on that field on defense gets the game ball."

Josh Savage and Ray Holdcraft shared team-high honors with seven tackles apiece to highlight an effort that included interceptions by Eric Weddle and Revill, as well as a fumble recovery by Casey Evans. The latter came on a punt when Toby Christensen lost the ball on the BYU 22 with 2:57 remaining.

It allowed the Utes to protect a lead it held since 8:43 of the second quarter when Bryan Borreson's 41-yard field goal provided the game's only offense.

"With our offense working the way it was lately I thought we were going to score a lot more points, but three was all we needed," Borreson said. "I think the defense deserves all the credit. I go out there for one play and do my job. They go out for 60 plays and do their job every single time.

"So you can't really look at me as a hero," he continued. "The defense definitely won this game. Defense wins championships."

In addition to three turnovers and a missed field goal, BYU was forced to punt seven times. The Cougars (4-8, 3-4) managed just nine first downs and their average field position was their own 26.

"I think Utah is the best team in our conference, obviously," BYU coach Gary Crowton said. "They're playing very well right now. I was very pleased with how we went toe-to-toe with them."

The Cougars, in fact, had a chance to counter Utah's score in the final minute of the first half. A 51-yard kick by Matt Payne, however, fell short. It was the last time they ended a drive in Ute territory.

"For many years they've been good on offense," Meyer said. "They struggled a little bit this year, but we came out and brought our 'A' game on defense."

Revill, who acknowledged that the wintry weather worked to the advantage of both defenses, said it was icing on the cake that BYU never scored.

"All week long that was one of our goals," he noted.

Mission accomplished, as were other objectives for Utah. The Utes were pressed into a must-win situation for outright honors after New Mexico defeated Wyoming earlier in the day.

Special teams play limited BYU to just 49 return yards on three punts and two kickoffs. Plus, Weddle's hit on Christensen forced a fumble that allowed Utah to run out the clock in the end.

And though they failed to score a touchdown for the first time in more than three years, the Utes were effective in controlling time of possession. They had the ball nearly 14 minutes longer than the Cougars and ran 20 more plays. Quarterback Alex Smith passed for 113 yards — including 61 on a throw to Paris Warren that nearly went for a touchdown in the second quarter — and rushed for 55 more. Tailback Brandon Warfield netted 50 in his first game back after injuring his knee in the Oct. 25 loss to New Mexico.

"Our guys played hard. This was a great team win," Meyer said. "We played great on defense, great on special teams and at times, great on offense."

1 comment:

j said...

I think it bears mentioning that Utah also finished the game with class, kneeling to run out the clock somewhere around the BYU 5 yard line if I recall. So it could have easily been 10-0.