PROVO — The Streak lives on.
Utah continued its domination of BYU Saturday night, winning its seventh straight rivalry game by holding on for a 19-13 victory over the Cougars before a crowd of 63,470 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
It marked the first time the Utes have won seven consecutive games in the rivalry since 1957.
"Bottom line, got the win, did what we needed to do," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "Got another group of seniors that is leaving with a win, has never tasted defeat in the rivalry game, and that's our objective."
19-13 Final Huntley led the game in Passing (300 yards) & Rushing (89 & 1 TDs) . Defense committed 3 turnovers. 11 penalties 97 yards pic.twitter.com/qA4lh9eeEY— Peter Holland Jr (@Petes_Picks_) September 10, 2017
Utah (2-0) relied on its stout defense and an impressive performance by quarterback Tyler Huntley, who completed 27 of 36 passes for 300 yards and ran for 89 more.
"He is dual threat. He is slippery and did a good job of running the ball," said BYU coach Kalani Sitake. "Even when we got close to him he was able to run out of the way and throw the ball. He can extend plays with his legs. He was their best running back tonight. I thought that defensively we did a pretty good job containing him but didn't do a good enough job getting sacks."
For BYU (1-2), its offense showed some signs of life but couldn’t generate enough points against the Utes.
Cougar quarterback Tanner Mangum completed 21 of 39 passes for 170 yards, with a touchdown and three interceptions.
"I was disappointed with the result of the game. There are a lot of things we need to work on. I thought Utah played a great game, especially defensively," Sitake said. "We did not play well tonight. I'm really frustrated. We just really wanted this game and now we have to wait another year to play them. We look forward to that but we can't hang out heads. We have to move on and learn as much as we can from this game."
BYU gained 233 yards of total offense compared to 430 for the Utes. A seven-yard touchdown pass from Mangum to Trey Dye with 2:38 remaining pulled BYU to within 19-13, but the Cougars' final drive ended in their own territory with less than one minute remaining.
"It is frustrating that we couldn't put together a drive to win the game," Sitake said.
"We didn’t expect to come in here and have an easy time. We knew it was going to be a dog fight, every single one of these is," Whittingham said. "It’s just how it goes, it’s down to the last series, the last play, and tonight was no different. I said that all week long. I don’t care what had happened previously. This is how the series has been. It’s been very hard fought."
Leading 9-0 at halftime, Utah’s defense gave its offense a lift to start the third quarter as Filipo Mokofisi intercepted a Mangum pass and the Utes capitalized three plays later on a 5-yard run by Huntley. At that point, Utah led 16-0.
Mangum was picked again, this time by Jaylon Johnson on a deep ball, on BYU’s next series.
But the Cougars got the ball right back when Huntley fumbled a handoff exchange and Fred Warner recovered at the Utah 22-yard line. BYU promptly handed the ball off to running back Ula Tolutau, who gained 8 yards on his first carry of the night, followed by a 13-yard run. To cap the drive, Tolutau plowed into the end zone to cut the deficit to 16-6 with 9:47 left in the third quarter. The Cougars’ two-point extra point try failed.
It was BYU’s first touchdown in eight quarters of play.
"We saw some successful things out there. It was nice to see our offense clicking at the end," Sitake said. "We dug a hole early on in the game with turnovers and we put our defense is some bad situations. I am not happy about it and I am going to fix it. We need to fix the problems we are having on offense."
Utah responded with another sustained drive that ended with a 38-yard field goal by Matt Gay to make it 19-6.
Huntley talks about thw win over BYU https://t.co/zcn4hbdUfd— Peter Holland Jr (@Petes_Picks_) September 10, 2017
On the ensuing kickoff, Jonah Trinnaman broke free and was running down the sideline when he was tripped up by a shoestring tackle by punter Mitch Wishnowsky. The Cougars took over on their 45-yard line but were forced to punt.
BYU forced another turnover midway through the fourth quarter with a fumble recovered by Troy Warner, but BYU’s offense couldn’t take advantage.
The first half was a typical, unpredictable BYU-Utah game filled with controversial plays, crucial turnovers and costly penalties.
The Cougars had a chance to establish momentum early when Warner put a big hit on Utah receiver Raelon Singleton, forcing a fumble. BYU had some players in the vicinity of the loose ball near midfield but Singleton pounced on it to keep possession.
On the Cougars’ second play of their second series, Mangum’s pass was intercepted by Boobie Hobbs, who returned it to the BYU 9-yard line. The Utes couldn’t punch the ball in the end zone and settled for a 21-yard field goal by Gay to take a 3-0 lead.
BYU crossed into Utah territory on its next drive but Chase Hansen drilled Mangum as he was throwing and fumbled the ball. Utah recovered and returned it for a big gain but after a review, the play was ruled as an incomplete pass.
In the second quarter, Utah linebacker Sunia Tauteoli was ejected for targeting on a hit on a sliding Mangum to put BYU at the Utah 23-yard line.
The Cougars drove to the Utah 3 and appeared to take the lead when Mangum threw a touchdown pass to Talon Shumway but a pass interference call on BYU's Aleva Hifo negated the score.
"We practice the routes plenty of times in practice," Sitake said. "Nobody feels worse that Aleva right now but we need to fix our mistakes. He is talented and has a lot of speed but he can't make costly mistake and he understands that. His mistake wasn't the only issue, though. There were other breakdowns that made it difficult for Tanner to throw."
Then on fourth down, Rhett Almond missed a 28-yard field goal.
Moments later, the Utes had an apparent touchdown nullified on a pass interference play. Gay drilled a 25-yard field goal as Utah increased its lead to 6-0.
After a three-and-out by BYU, the Utes reached the Cougar 3-yard line but once again had to settle for a 31-yard Gay field goal as the first half came to a close. Utah put together a 14-play, 53-yard drive that took 4:06 off the clock and took a 9-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
But Whittingham wasn't pleased with the offense's lack of touchdowns.
"Each time seems to be something else," he said. "Matt Gay had a great night tonight, but we don’t want to finish drives with field goals. We don’t want to do that. Instead of 9-0, it’s 21-0…if you can get touchdowns instead of FGs."
"I was proud of our defense and the way they played," Sitake said. "Our defense is pretty good when we have a full field to defend. It is hard for teams to drrive on us. I'm sure coach Whittingham wasn't happy with three field goals to start the game and I am happy with our guys doing that but we gave up a lot of plays throughout the game. They had a couple of big passes down field."
Utah hosts San Jose State while BYU entertains Wisconsin next Saturday.