There were two plays earlier in the game that resulted in BYU needed to make a desperation heave hoping for magic to happen. These two plays were the game changing plays
Without this penalty, Adam Hine's 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown stands. BYU goes up 7-3. Instead, BYU took possession of the ball at its own 14-yard line. The Cougars failed to pick up a single first down and punted the ball back to Utah.
Besides the obvious benefit that an extra seven points would have been at the end of the game (20-20 tie), negating the touchdown changed the game in so many ways. A special teams touchdown is one of the biggest momentum boosts that a team can have. The defense would have gone out and played harder knowing they were playing with a lead. The offense would have had a little more pep in their step, which could have led to some first half points (BYU did not score until the third quarter).
Utah isn't the type of team to get unraveled after a play like this, but the TD would have still had an impact.
The score was just 6-0 with 2:39 to play before halftime. Utah was 75-yards away from the end zone. Still anybody's game. Then, Utah rips off a 74-yard catch and run. Two plays later, they were in the end zone. The lead was now 13-0.
That extra touchdown right before halftime was the difference in the game. The late first half score didn't give Utah any carryover momentum into the second half. BYU scored two field goals on its first two drives of the third quarter, and Utah was shutout. Rather than having a tie game going into the fourth and final quarter, that big pass play gave Utah a seven point cushion, which proved to be the difference.
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