DICKSON: Cougar fans unleash ‘the sound’ after win over Utes
A writer is never at a loss for words, but I wasn’t sure I was up for the job of describing what we all just saw Saturday night.
I feel like I’m trying to describe a Pablo Picasso painting, or the most beautiful sunset ever to grace the earth.
How do you describe a victory that ends more than a decade of agony for BYU fans?
Let’s start here.
LaVell Edwards Stadium has seen some pretty amazing moments. And those moments, nearly always in front of 60,000-plus fans, have been accompanied by “the sound.”
When BYU beat top-ranked Miami in 1990, fans counted down the final seconds and made the sound as they celebrated.
When Luke Staley raced down the sideline for a touchdown late in the Cougars’ classic 2001 win against Utah, the fans made that sound as well.
I always likened it to a jet taking off. The sound is deafening and simply washes over you like a wave. You feel it from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet.
Late Saturday night, when Utah quarterback Charlie Brewer’s fourth-down pass sailed over the head of Britain Covey and out of bounds, there was the same sound. When the clock hit triple zeroes, here came the sound again.
It’s been a while since BYU’s home field advantage has made any difference in the Holy War or could make that sound.
Saturday, it all came together. Cougar fans got the message, wore royal blue and united. And here we are.
Cougars 26, Utes 17.
The. Streak. Is. Over.
Ute fans pointed out right up to kickoff that it had been 4,305 days since BYU got a win in the series (2009). Now, it’s been zero days. It’s three years (2024) until the two teams are scheduled to play again. That’s a long time for Cougar fans to revel in a victory over their rivals.
It’s only fitting that Saturday night ended the way it did in what could be the best week Cougar fans have ever had. Friday, BYU was invited into the Big 12 Conference, the culmination of years and years of hard work and hope.
On Saturday, the Cougars end a painful nine-game losing streak against their hated rival.
If Zach Wilson had been able to lead the Jets to a come-from-behind victory on Sunday, many BYU fans might have felt their heads explode.
From the time BYU head coach Kalani Sitake snagged Brewer’s errant pass on the sideline in the first quarter — that was quite a catch — it was a battle. The momentum switched back and forth. Utah pulled within six points early in the fourth quarter but new Cougar quarterback Jaren Hall — 1-0 as the starting QB vs. the Utes, thank you — engineered a clutch drive to set up a Jake Oldroyd field goal for a nine-point lead. A fourth down stop for the defense and one first down gave Cougar students all the incentive they needed to rush the field, but, you know, in an orderly fashion.
The game will be broken down endlessly in every minute detail over the next week and beyond, but know this: BYU finally made the plays it needed to lock down the win. Utah didn’t surrender the game. The Cougars seized the moment and made it happen.
Hall started slowly, but made some terrific throws in red zone situations to Neil Pau’u and Samson Nacua for touchdowns. He had several electrifying runs at key moments and showed a tremendous amount of moxie and calm for his first Utah game. Tyler Allgeier was a workhorse with a career-high 27 carries (for 102 yards) and picked up some huge yards down the stretch.
BYU’s defense was great in the first half, then tired at the end of the game but found a way to make the stop it needed to seal the win.
You’d have to say that BYU’s guys in the trenches on both sides of the ball played even or ever better than their Ute counterparts, which is something that hasn’t happened much over the last decade. Give credit to Sitake and his coaching staff for creating the depth and talent to stand toe-to-toe with the Utes.
Former Cougar tight end Andrew George, who scored the game-winning touchdown the last time BYU beat Utah (2009), was a guest on Ben Criddle’s ESPN 960 radio show on Friday. George loves talking about his catch and run in overtime so long ago, but he insisted he’d rather have someone else step up and become a new hero.
Hall answered that bell.
This is only Game 2 of 2021 and BYU still has (checks notes) Arizona State at LES next Saturday.
Sitake, his coaching staff and his players will celebrate on Sunday but have to focus and get back to work on Monday.
BYU fans? They just saw their guys make them a memory that will last a long, long time.