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Utah’s Britain Covey provides plenty of thrills in his final game at the Rose Bowl

SHARE Utah’s Britain Covey provides plenty of thrills in his final game at the Rose Bowl
Utah Utes wide receiver Britain Covey (18) returns a kickoff for a touchdown during to the Rose Bowl.

Utah Utes wide receiver Britain Covey (18) returns a kickoff for a touchdown during to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022. Utah leads 35-21 at half.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

PASADENA, Calif. — Utah’s Britain Covey saved one of his best performances for last. 

In his final game as a Ute, Covey, the school’s all-time leader in punt returns, scored Utah’s first touchdown of the game and his first career kickoff return for a TD — a dazzling 97-yard run in the second quarter that gave his team a 28-14 lead in the Rose Bowl against Ohio State. 

He also made some history with that score. It happened to be the first time a Ute has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in a bowl game. 

Not only that, Covey also caught three passes for 34 yards and a TD and rushed twice for 10 yards. He accumulated 208 kick return yards. 

However, Covey didn’t get the ending he wanted Saturday in the 108th Rose Bowl. 

No. 6 OSU beat No. 11 Utah 48-45 after a late field goal by the Buckeyes. 

Still, it was an amazing performance in the “Granddaddy of Them All” by the 5-foot-8, 170-pound guy who’s been in college longer than anyone else on the field, though you’d never know it judging by his youthful looks. 

Of course, Covey was emotional in the aftermath of the gut-wrenching loss. 

“Just a lot to take in. It’s starting to hit me finally,” he said, his eyes welling up with tears. “I don’t want to take my pads off. Just proud of this team and this program, this university. I just have a great love for the University of Utah. Sorry. I’m just grateful.”

Though Covey burned the Buckeyes with that long kickoff return, they continued kicking to him — including the final kickoff with less than 10 seconds remaining just after OSU kicked a field goal to take a three-point edge. 

Covey, 24, who has declared for the NFL draft, tried to create some magic one more time but he was ultimately swarmed under by OSU’s kick return coverage.

“I had an inkling that we might have a few opportunities this game, just based off of sea level, how far (the kicker) kicks it. If you notice after that kickoff return, they started kicking it short, trying to kick it to our up fullback. They kicked it out of bounds one time,” Covey said.

“I was surprised with that very last one, but then they played kind of a prevent, kind of contain. That’s usually what happens with returners is, beginning of season, first three or four games, you get some chances. Then after that, people stop kicking to you.”

All-American linebacker Devin Lloyd also played in his last game as a Ute Saturday. He’s expected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. 

The Rose Bowl loss was a tough pill to swallow. 

“It’s obviously very frustrating, especially coming up that short. But (coach Kyle Whittingham) hit on it in the locker room, we’ve accomplished so much this year, and we’ve banded together as a brotherhood this year,” Lloyd said.

“It’s obviously frustrating, very frustrating to come up this short, but that doesn’t take away anything that we’ve accomplished this year and all the success that we’ve had this year.”