September 15, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; BYU fan Dean Kesler cheers prior to the start of a game between the Utah Utes and the Brigham Young Cougars at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Holy War Memories


By: Andrew Devey
Twitter: @adevey

I served an LDS mission to Montana from Dec. 2005 – Dec. 2007. The during the time I was away, the BYU football team went a combined 22-4 with two MWC championships and two Las Vegas Bowl victories. I missed a lot of good football during those two years but one moment I didn’t miss was John Beck’s game winning pass to Jonny Harline in 2006.
I was serving in Plains, MT which had a population of about 1,200 at the time. We knocked every door of the town a few miles south, Paradise, the previous week, albeit the town was only six blocks long and three blocks wide, and found some people mildly interested. On the day of the game we decided to follow up on some people we had tracted into before going to our dinner appointment.

It had just started to steadily snow as we pulled up to a small shack/house. We traipsed through the two feet of snow already on the ground to the door we were greeted by a man sitting outside enjoying some chew. The man was probably in his late 60′s and sported a white beard any man would be proud of. His dark chew spit drizzled out of the corners of his mouth as we tried to share our message with him.

He said that he likes the choir that belongs to our church and that he enjoys listening to them on the Sunday mornings. He also said that he really likes Amanda Dixon, and that she’s “really sharp.”

I thought he was just another crazy old mountain man and that he didn’t know what he was talking about, but I knew Amanda Dixon’s name from listening to her as my dad drove me to school in the mornings growing up. I asked him how he knew her to clarify and he said that he picks up the radio station out of Salt Lake City on his little radio inside.

My heart started pounding as I carefully pieced together what I had just heard. If he listens to MoTab and Amanda Dixon on the radio, gets KSL. If he gets KSL on the radio, he gets BYU football and THE GAME IS ON RIGHT NOW!!! I calmly commented on how amazing his radio is and asked if he could show it to me so I could see how it works.

We went inside his home, which was smaller than our apartment was, and he turned on his magical radio just as Bret Casteel scored to put the Utes up with two minutes to play. I asked the man if we could listen to the rest of the game. He didn’t mind, and my companion and I half-heartedly chatted with him in between plays about his beliefs, family and how he worked for the railroad for 40 years.

As it came down to the final play of the game, I was as nervous as ever. I listened intently to Greg Wrubell’s famous play-by-play of Beck’s pass to Harline. When Wrubell screamed “Caught for the touchdown! Caught for the touchdown! Caught for the touchdown!” I threw both of my arms into the air and cheered “YES!” My companion laughed at me and I’m not sure the old man knew what to do or what was going on, but I didn’t care the Cougs had won.

We quickly thanked the man and left in a hurry because we were late to dinner. As we drove away I wondering if that really just happened. Did that house just pop up out of no where? Is the radio signal always that clear? Did I just hear the Cougs beat Utah in a small shack, with a strange man, in the middle-of-no-where, Montana? It was truly a blessing, and as Austin Collie would declare a year later, “Magic happens.”

Tags: BYU Cougars Utah Utes