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Beck's TD pass on last play lifts BYU over Utah

Nov 26, 2006 - 12:27 AM SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- John Beck proved that he and BYU could play from behind.

Beck threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes, including a 12-yarder to Jonny Harline on the game's final play, as the Cougars rallied for a 33-31 victory over Utah in a Mountain West Conference thriller.

The Cougars (10-2, 8-0 MWC) had not trailed in a conference contest all season entering the 25th battle for the Beehive Boot, and it did not look like they would in this one after Beck engineered two long scoring drives in the first quarter.

The Utes (7-5, 5-3) scored 24 straight points to take a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, but they were unable to stop Beck in the fourth, who threw a five-yard pass to Harline and a six-yard TD to Daniel Coats, the latter giving BYU a 27-24 lead with 3:23 left.

Utah immediately marched 84 yards on 10 plays, converting a fourth down along the way, and took a 31-27 lead on Brett Ratliff's third TD toss of the second half, a 19-yard screen pass to Brent Casteel with 1:21 remaining.

But Beck was not about to let his Mountain West season end with a loss. He drove the Cougars down the field, finding Harline for 18 yards to the Utah 36 on 4th-and-4. A 16-yard pass to McKay Jacobson moved the ball to the 12, and after two incompletions, Beck took the last snap of the game with three seconds left as Utah dropped all 11 players in coverage.

Beck stood in the pocket for about 10 seconds trying to find a receiver, and rolled to his right after finally getting some pressure. With a defender right in his face, he threw off his back foot across the field to the left corner of the end zone, where Harline caught the ball on his knees all alone.

The pass allowed BYU to complete its first undefeated MWC season. The Cougars already had clinched the conference championship and accepted a bid to the Las Vegas Bowl.

Beck completed 28-of-44 passes for 374 yards and four touchdowns. In last week's 42-17 romp on New Mexico, he threw for 464 yards and four TDs.

Ratliff was 23-of-37 for 352 yards and three TDs for Utah, which had its four-game series winning streak snapped.

The teams combined for 905 yards - 752 through the air - and 53 first downs.

In BYU's first two drives of the game, Beck completed 7-of-8 passes for 166 yards, including a 36-yard scoring pass to Harline for a 14-0 lead with 6:48 left in the first quarter.

Utah turned the tables, outgaining BYU, 288-13, over a 28-minute span to take a 17-14 lead with 8:24 left in the third quarter.

The spurt started when punter Louie Sakoda ran 18 yards to the BYU 29 on a fake punt. The Utes scored three plays later on an 18-yard pass from Eric Weddle to Casteel. On the Utes' last drive of the half, Ratliff had two passes tipped away in the end zone before Sakoda kicked a 24-yard field goal.

Ratliff hit Marquis Wilson for a 57-yard TD with 8:24 remaining in the third for a 17-14 lead. After Utah got the ball back, Ratliff drove the team 66 yards on eight plays - aided by defensive holding and roughing calls - to increase the edge to 24-14. He capped the drive with a four-yard TD pass to Colt Sampson.

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