Twenty years ago when Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris hooked up to win an NFL playoff game on a deflected pass, they called it the "Immaculate Reception."

Saturday night at Rice Stadium, Utah came up with its own Immaculate Reception at the end of the first half, a play that turned out to be the winning score in a 12-7 Ute victory.Call this one the "Immaculate reception plus a little deception."

As time was running out, Ute quarterback Frank Dolce heaved a long pass toward the end zone. It bounced off Aggie cornerback Damon Smith at the 12-yard line into Bryan Rowley's arms at about the 14. Rowley took off toward the end zone but was caught by Smith at about the 8. That's when the deception came in. Just when it looked like Rowley was going down, he turned and threw it back to Greg Hoffman, who rambled the rest of the way for the touchdown.

Utah coach Ron McBride never hesitated in going for the long pass with four seconds left in the half. "I told Rick (Rasnick, assistant coach), "Let's get a Hail Mary - what does it hurt?"

McBride remembered a similar play three years ago when he was at Arizona and a long pass was deflected in his team's favor to win a game against Arizona State.

At first Dolce seemed to be looking to unload the ball in the flat when suddenly he let fly with his Hail Mary pass.

"I just kind of threw it up there and hoped it would work," said Dolce.

Utah State safety Damon Smith went high to intercept the ball, but it deflected off his fingers into Rowley's at the 12.

"Luckily I was in the right place," said Rowley, who started up field only to be caught by Smith.

At first it looked like an obvious forward lateral, but TV replays showed Hoffman ahead of Rowley, but reaching back to get the lateral.

"I was yelling at him to pitch it to me and he pitched it to me but it was high so I tipped it," says Hoffman. "It was definitely backward. I was trying to get to the goal line as fast as I could."

The Aggies Smith said "I saw the ball up in the air and went for it strong. I knew I had a pick and we were going in 7-6. Then I got hit and it popped out. I tackled him (Rowley) and I don't know what happened after that."

USU's Coach Chuck Shelton had no argument with the play either on the way to the locker room or afterwards.

"We thought it was a forward lateral," he said. "But I couldn't see it from the sideline, so I can't comment on it."

"It was just a lucky play," said Rowley.

But that's okay by the Utes, who should have won easily according to the final statistics (458 total yards to 222).

"Coach McBride tells us that hard work makes good luck," said Dolce. "Maybe that was our good luck for this game."