Brigham Young University
Dec 19 | 01:30 PM
28 - 35
University of Utah
Sam Boyd Stadium

7000 E Russell Rd Las Vegas NV 89122

Kenny Cox | Posted: 19 Dec 2015 | Updated: 5 Aug 2023
Kenny Cox

BYU can't complete comeback in 35-28 heartbreaker


LAS VEGAS – The BYU football team was denied a chance to pull off one of the biggest comebacks in Cougar history and fell short to the University of Utah 35-28 in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.


After surrendering five turnovers on its first five possessions, BYU (9-4) found itself in a 35-0 hole after the first 10 minutes of the game. The Cougars would not fold in the game, however.

BYU rallied for a touchdown on its last possession of the first half to trail 35-7. Out of the break, the Cougars strung together three more touchdowns and held the Utes (10-3) scoreless to make it 35-28 with 3:23 remaining in the game. Utah converted two first downs on its final drive to get into the victory formation and prevent the Cougars from having another chance.

After a forgettable first quarter, BYU dominated the statistics, outgaining Utah 386 to 197 in total yards and 315 to 71 in the throwing game. The Cougars averaged 4.8 yards per play to Utah’s 3.0, but 35 points off five turnovers was too much to overcome.

Despite throwing three interceptions and fumbling in the first quarter, true freshman Tanner Mangum stayed composed to finish the game 25 of 56 for 315 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a 4-yard touchdown. He finished his true freshman season with 3,377 passing yards and 23 touchdowns.

Devon Blackmon caught three passes for 97 yards while Nick Kurtz and Remington Peck each caught a touchdown pass. Francis Bernard added one rushing touchdown as part of his seven carries for 58 yards. He added a pair of receptions.

Defensively, Bronson Kaufusi led BYU in tackles in his final game of a Cougar with nine and had three tackles for loss. Laulile posted a pair of sacks while Micah Hannemann had one of his own.

Trying to escape pressure, Mangum fumbled at the 25-yard line on BYU’s first possession. The Utes took advantage on a short field, punching it in from a yard out to take an early 7-0 lead with 10:59 remaining.

On BYU’s next possession a tipped pass fell into the hands of Utah’s Tevin Carter and returned for a score, putting BYU in a 14-point hole just 17 seconds later.

It didn’t get better for the Cougars on the next two possessions. Back-to-back picks for Mangum resulted in another 14 points for Utah. A return to the 1-yard line on the first pick ended in a 1-yard touchdown and the second was a pick-six.

A fifth BYU turnover in five opening possessions set up Utah’s fifth touchdown of the first quarter, making it 35-0 with 4:38 left in first quarter.

The Cougar defense shined after the barrage of turnovers, forcing four consecutive punts for Utah, including three 3-and-outs. BYU finally capitalized on its last drive of the half. Despite being pinned at their own 3-yard line, BYU executed a 97-yard drive to make it 35-7 at half.

Peck caught a 3-yard pass from Mangum to cap the drive. Mangum was 5 of 6 for 83 yards on the drive. Peck’s touchdown reception was the first by a BYU tight end this year.

Not ready to quit, BYU scored on its opening drive out of the half. Mangum hit Bernard on a swing pass in the backfield at the 10-yard line and Bernard rumbled into the end zone for a 10-yard rushing touchdown to make it 35-14 with 10:02 to go in the third quarter.

BYU was driving on its next possession but suffered a sack on third down forcing a punt. Utah put together a five-minute drive but turned the ball over on downs at the BYU 35-yard line one minute into the fourth quarter.

Facing a fourth and 13, Blackmon got loose behind the defense and Mangum found him for a 44-yard gain to keep the drive alive. On another fourth down at the Utah 4-yard line, Mangum rocketed a pass over the middle to Kurtz for a touchdown to get the Cougars within two scores with 10:33 to go.

With 5:05 to go, Utah went for a short 4th–and-1 and the BYU defense stuffed Joe Williams for no gain to get the ball back at the Cougar 40-yard line.

Mangum continued to find open receivers down the field, hitting Blackmon for 45 yards to get BYU inside the Utah 4-yard line. Mangum called his own number and rushed four yards for the score to make it 35-28 with 3:23 on the clock.

The Ute offense did just enough to get two first downs on the ensuing drive and never gave the Cougars a chance to complete an incredible comeback.

BYU finished the season 9-4 and Mendenhall leaves BYU as the second winningest coach in school history with a 99-43 record.

mperry | Posted: 9 Dec 2015 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

BYU football preps for Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl


PROVO, Utah – BYU football heads to Las Vegas Tuesday, Dec.15 to prep for the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl against Utah, which is set to kick off Saturday, Dec. 19, at 12:30 p.m. PST.

The game will be broadcast nationally on ABC with a live radio broadcast also available on the Cougar IMG Sports Network via, KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM and the BYU Cougars app. Pregame radio coverage starts at 10:30 a.m. PST.

BYUtv's coverage of the game launches with Countdown to Kickoff at 11:30 a.m. PST on BYUtv and A postgame show begins after the conclusion of the game.

BYU (9-3) vs. Utah (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12)
Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 at 12:30 p.m. PST
Sam Boyd Stadium
Las Vegas


Press Conference for Las Vegas BowlVideo Link


WAKING UP IN VEGAS. BYU is no stranger to playing bowl games in Las Vegas. From 2005-09, the Cougars went to five consecutive Las Vegas Bowls, going 3-2 over that span. With a sixth appearance in Las Vegas, it trails only BYU’s 11 Holiday Bowls as the Cougars’ favorite bowl destination. BYU has defeated Oregon, UCLA and Oregon State in Vegas, with the last victory coming in the most recent trip to the game in 2009 over the 18th-ranked Beavers.

#100WINS. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall is sitting on 99 career wins. With a win, Mendenhall will finish his Cougar career as the second 100-game winner at BYU behind LaVell Edwards. Mendenhall would become the 17th active FBS coach to reach 100 wins and the 159th coach in history at any level of college football to reach the century mark of wins.

UNCHARTED TERRITORY. BYU and Utah have never faced off in the postseason or at a neutral site. The two rivals are meeting for the 90th time in program history. Utah leads the series 54-31-4, but since 1972 when the LaVell Edwards era began, BYU is 26-16 against the Utes. Under Mendenhall, the Cougars are 3-6 and have dropped four straight.

BYU IN BOWLS. BYU is playing in its 11th consecutive bowl game (every year under Mendenhall). BYU is one of 11 teams to play in its 11th consecutive bowl game this year and only Florida State has won more games (7) than BYU’s six games in that span.

BLUE UTES/RED COUGARS. Several members of the Utah coaching staff have spent time at BYU either as a player or member of the Cougar staff. Head coach Kyle Whittingham played linebacker for the Cougars from 1978-81. Co-offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick played receiver for BYU and was a GA. Linebackers coach Justin Ena was also a starter for BYU. On the other side, BYU linebacker Harvey Langi started his career at running back at Utah. The ast time he played in this game he was wearing red. Defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi was on the Utah coaching staff.


John Saccenti, Executive Director of the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl

Thanks for having us. You guys have certainly given us a nice warm welcome ever since we’ve gotten here. It’s true, absence makes the heart grow fonder. We had BYU for five consecutive years and I think we were all ready for a little bit of a break at that time, but we’ve missed you guys. BYU has been a key part in the history of our game. They’ve played a key role in our game helping us jump to the next level from those five consecutive sellouts. They’ll always hold a special place in our hearts and we’re happy to have them back in the game.

The game is sold out as many as you have heard. Once the word got out BYU was in, the phones were ringing fast and furious. Of course the Utah fans have bought up the rest of the tickets. We’re expecting a great game and we’re very excited about it. Small little fact/piece of trivia: BYU has three wins in the Las Vegas Bowl and Utah has three wins in the bowl. They are tied for the all-time lead in Las Vegas Bowl wins so someone is coming out of this as the all-time leader in wins for the Las Vegas Bowl.

As soon as we heard the news Bronco was leaving, the first phone call I made was to find out if Bronco was coaching the game. We were very relieved. You should be really proud of this guy because not very often do coaches have that much character or commitment to say we are going see this thing through and finish it out. I applaud you for doing that coach. We’re happy you’re in the game and you should be proud of this guy.

Bronco Mendenhall, BYU Head Coach
From the standpoint of this being the fifth and sixth sellout, it’s a different era for BYU football and probably for the Las Vegas Bowl with the game growing and expanding each year and gaining new attention. The growing significance of the teams and the games has been fun to watch. Who would have guessed that on a year where BYU and Utah aren’t scheduled to play, we end up playing and we end up playing in Las Vegas in front of a packed house? It’ll be two teams that worked really hard and both fighting to get their 10th win. A lot of our success this year is simply because of our player leadership. The best teams I’ve coached are always reflected in the leaders. The captains and the seniors and Mitch and Bronson as well as others have played really well and also have represented the program at a really high level that a coach really just can’t do. The two guys sitting at my left are really responsible for our success. They’ve done a really nice job keeping the team together through some unique circumstances and our team is motivated. We’re excited and we really want to win and we really want to play well for the sake of our team.  I’m excited to do my part as a coach and I’m really excited to help the players on our team achieve a strong finish.

Bronson Kaufusi, Senior Defensive Lineman

We want to win. Ups and downs are all a part of college football. Anything can happen. When you step on that field everything leaves and you’re there with your teammate and you’re trying to execute at a high level and you want to do your best. In order to be your best, preparation is the biggest thing. Everyone is focused. We want to go down there and win.

Mitch Mathews, Senior Wide Receiver

This week has been something new for all of us. A coaching change is never easy. We showed up to practice today and it was very encouraging for us to see how much energy, poise, focus and excitement the team has to play and to get this last win for coach Mendenhall. Guys have questions of who’s going to be our next coach and who’s going and coming in. When we step on that practice field, that’s what shows up in the game. What we were like at practice today, how enthusiastic we were, how excited and focused we were is a sign of how excited we are for the game and how we are going to play.