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How Utah handled an ‘alarming’ experience at team hotel late Sunday night

Utah Utes wide receiver Britain Covey, wearing a mask, speaks to a reporter during a press conference at Disneyland
Utah Utes wide receiver Britain Covey speaks to a reporter during a press conference at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, as part of events leading up to the Rose Bowl.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

LOS ANGELES — Much of Rose Bowl Week is meticulously scheduled for participating teams Utah and Ohio State heading into their matchup on New Year’s Day.

But the Utes experienced an unexpected event Sunday night, hours after they arrived in Los Angeles.

At a little after 11 p.m., the hotel fire alarm sounded, forcing the team to evacuate the premises. Members of the Ute traveling party, including players, coaches and their families, remained outside the hotel for about 45 minutes before being allowed to return to their rooms.

“That was kind of fun,” defensive lineman Mika Tafua said Monday. “We went across the street and got some tacos while they were figuring things out. It was about midnight when we got back.”

It wasn’t a false alarm, either, according to Tafua.

“There was actually a fire. I didn’t see it,” he said. “Some people said they saw the smoke.”

Forced outside of the hotel, wide receiver Britain Covey contemplated a spontaneous activity at a movie theater.

“My wife was not wearing anything that would make her warm. She was outside and freezing. She’s also a little dramatic,” Covey said. “We considered seeing Spider-Man at 11:30. We thought we’d be out there for a long time. We had no idea what was going on. We thought we’d go back in and all of the sudden we saw someone running with a (bullhorn) saying, ‘Get them out of the building.’”

But in the end, order was restored.

“It was pretty entertaining, now that everything’s okay,” Covey said. “In the moment, it was kind of scary.”