No. 18 BYU beats No. 22 Utah 26-23 in OT

PROVO, Utah — Max Hall wanted to be clear: He really, really doesn’t like Utah.

The BYU quarterback burned his in-state rivals with a touchdown pass in overtime, then blasted them with some scathing comments after the 18th-ranked Cougars’ 26-23 win over the No. 22 Utes.

Hall redeemed himself from a year ago, when Utah intercepted him five times in a 48-24 blowout in Salt Lake City. Hall said Saturday he was still upset with the way his family was treated by Utes fans.

“I don’t like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, their fans. I hate everything,” Hall said. “It felt really good to send those guys home.”

Hall’s blunt remarks will probably get a reprimand from the Mountain West Conference, but he didn’t seem too concerned. The Cougars (10-2, 7-1) beat the Utes (9-3, 6-2) for the third time in four years, and it was the last regular-season game of the senior’s career.

“I think the whole university and their fans and the organization is classless,” Hall said. “They threw beer on my family and stuff last year and did a whole bunch of nasty things. I don’t respect them and they deserved to lose.”

Hall threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Andrew George in overtime, setting off a long celebration that covered the field with blue-clad, screaming fans.

Instead of a high-powered shootout between potent offenses, the defenses dominated this one. Utah held BYU to just 120 yards in the second half, but the Cougars kept the Utes to just 298 total for the whole game.

“For it to come down to an overtime play was just a perfect scenario for a big college rivalry,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

Hall found George open for a quick dump-off over the middle and George had nobody between him and the goal line, hugging the ball with both hands as he went for the winning score.

George’s teammates piled onto him, then the Cougars’ fans stormed down from the stands.

“I couldn’t breathe. My shoulder was like up by my head, but it’s awesome,” George said. “If that’s what happens when you catch a game-winning TD, I’ll take it.”

The game was decided by a touchdown or less for the 11th time in 13 meetings.

Joe Phillips kicked five field goals for Utah, including a 40-yarder with 29 seconds left that forced the overtime. The Utes had the first possession of OT and had to settle for another kick by Phillips.

“I was proud of Joe Phillips for converting five field goals, but therein lied our problem because we were kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.

Utah’s 23-20 lead was short-lived, though. After an illegal procedure penalty forced the Cougars back to the 25 with second-and-10, Hall found George for the easiest touchdown of the game.

The Utes may have been looking for Dennis Pitta, who caught two passes to break Austin Collie’s school record of 215 career receptions, because they certainly were not focused on George.

“We’re pretty down right here. I have to see how it lasts,” Utah linebacker Stevenson Sylvester said. “It’s one thing about a game during the season. You have a chance to even it out on Saturday. This is the end of the (regular) season so we’ve got a couple of weeks to have this loss linger.”

Hall finished 12 of 32 for 134 yards and Harvey Unga ran for 116 yards and a touchdown for the Cougars, who finished in second place in the Mountain West Conference.

“We struggled in the second half to get stuff going on, but bottom line we made the play that we needed to win the game,” Hall said. “What better guy than Andrew to make it.”

Eddie Wide topped 1,000 yards rushing for the season with 114 yards and a score for the Utes, who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to tie it.

Jordan Wynn, making his first start in the rivalry, was 21 for 41 for 198 yards with one interception.

The Utes were going nowhere in the second half until Shaky Smithson sprung a 40-yard punt return to the BYU 37. The Utes survived a close call during the drive when Aiona Key fumbled after making a catch, but the play was whistled dead because Key’s helmet was knocked off before he lost the ball.

That kept the drive alive at fourth-and-4, and Wynn went right back to Key, who held on to the ball and his helmet this time for a first down. Wide broke loose up the middle to the 3-yard line then scored on a 2-yard touchdown run with 7:16 left. Wynn completed a pass to David Reed for the 2-point conversion to get Utah within 20-17.

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