College kickers, right? We take extra points for granted but every now and then when a team misses one of those assumed extra points it comes back to loom large. That is what happened Thursday night in Salt Lake City, Utah. Utah State lost to in-state rival Utah 30-26, thanks in part to a missed extra point attempt by Utah State kicker Nick Diaz.
Diaz’s unfortunate moment came early in the third quarter. Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton ran 15 yards, tip-toeing the left sideline and stretching for a truly athletic touchdown minutes out of halftime. The score gave the visiting Aggies a 23-14 lead and figured to set the tone for the second half right out of the break. But Diaz missed his PAT and the momentum switched sides almost instantly. Utah would later kick a field goal to cut the lead to 23-17, and the Utes then recovered an onside kick and capitalized. Karl Williams capped the possession with a two-yard touchdown run and Utah did not miss their PAT to take a 24-23 lead.
Diaz did actually give Utah State the lead again int he fourth quarter, successfully kicking a 24-yard field goal for a 26-24 lead,but Utah answered with a 19-yard field goal to regain the one-point advantage at 27-26. Utah added another late field goal for a four-point advantage.
It would be impossible to predict what would have happened with the outcome had Diaz not missed his third quarter extra point attempt. Utah still scored 30 points, which would have meant Utah State would have needed one extra field goal regardless to force overtime. Keeton launched a last second deep pass for the win but it fell incomplete.
In close games like this, kickers will take the brunt of the fallout. It goes with the territory.