Intense atmosphere, angry fans, rivalry glory at stake. Or is it none of the above?
Just days before the real football action gets underway in Provo, BYU and Utah alums kicked off rivalry week Tuesday night at Jordan High School with a friendly flag football match that included mock play reviews, smack talk from the referees aimed at players on both sides and essentially most aspects of the lighter side of football.
In the not-so-hotly contested matchup, several Cougar alums lived up to their glory days by beating the Utes 26-25 in a last-minute victory. The Cougar alums made a defensive stand on a Utah punt return to seal the win.
“It feels pretty good,” said tight end Jonny Harline, who played at BYU from 2004-06 and is most remembered for his famous game-winning touchdown grab against Utah his senior year. “We came out on top.”
BYU improved to 3-1 since the inauguration of the tradition but nearly lost when the Cougars were initially stopped on their two point conversion try with less than five seconds to play. The Utes were called for pass interference, however, setting up the second try, which BYU converted.
“I thought it was bogus. I thought it was a classless move by the refs. I thought it was a blatant attempt to halt Utah’s momentum,” joked Ute offensive lineman Kyle Gunther, who is now a radio personality for 1280 The Zone, the sports radio station that covered the event.
Harline also had a touchdown grab in the fourth quarter but dropped a pass in the end zone with only a few minutes remaining, putting the Cougars’ victory in jeopardy. He joked he may be a little less in shape than he used to be.
“I’m a little frustrated my skills have deteriorated a little bit,” Harline said. “That was the first pass I dropped in a long time.”
The fourth annual event was sponsored by Deseret First Credit Union, and all gate proceeds were donated to The Road Home, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the homeless in Salt Lake City.
“We feel it’s a good precursor to the rivalry and a great way to give to the community,” said Trena Anderson, the vice president at Deseret First.
Fans from both sides who attended also won big. For a $5 entrance at the gate, fans enjoyed raffle drawings, a barbecue and were able to get autographs from their favorite college football heroes.