A childhood dream come true — and for more than just one Ute.
Heading into Friday night’s game, the Utes’ 2014 win against USC in Salt Lake City was Isaac Asiata’s favorite game at Utah, but that has now changed.
Utah came away with a 31-27 victory against the Trojans, and Asiata can proudly say he has a new favorite game — the Utes win against USC on Friday Sept. 23, 2016.
When Asiata was younger, he mentioned he would always play video games against USC, and he always aspired to beat them in real life. So after the Trojans got the better of the Utes in 2015, Asiata wasn’t aiming to pay them back, but he wasn’t going to lose to them in back-to-back seasons.
And when things were looking bleak for the Utes, down 24-10 early in the third quarter, Asiata made sure to keep his head in the game.
Armand Shyne looked poised to score a touchdown in the third quarter, but he fumbled the ball, and lucky enough for the Utes, their senior offensive lineman fell on top of it to score the touchdown. Asiata knows that the likelihood of him scoring another touchdown this season isn’t too high, but he’ll keep trying, and he’s proud that the work the team put into Friday night’s game paid off.
“Those are the games you dream about when you’re a kid, playing teams like that and winning,” Asiata said. “I am at a loss for words. It’s very emotional and satisfying to work your tail off and get the win.”
Troy Williams, a Southern California native, admits that it stung that USC never recruited him out of high school, and again when the Trojans didn’t recruit him out of junior college — he had to find playing time at a Division I school outside of his home state.
While Williams tried not to let it affect his play on the field, he was more than motivated enough to walk out of Rice-Eccles field with a win. He wants to win that Pac-12 South title as much as anyone else on the team. And like he said earlier in the week, beating USC at home was the first step in doing just that.
“It was my dream to go to USC, and it’s a dream to compete against them and beat them,” Williams said. “[This win] ranks number one in my book, because it’s USC. Growing up watching Carson Palmer, Reggie Bush, Mike Williams and watching them on television, [I wanted] to play for them.”
And head coach Kyle Whittingham commended Williams’ ability to play well under pressure.
The Utes converted four fourth downs throughout the entire game, and two of those conversions came on Utah’s game winning drive. Although Williams may not have been the one to actually convert those downs, it was his play making ability that got the team to those instances in the game, and he threw the game winning touchdown to wide receiver Tim Patrick.
Whittingham thinks Williams has made progress in every single game as a Ute. He finished with a total of 270 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown, and more importantly Williams didn’t throw the ball away.
“Troy Williams with the poise that he showed, the composure, he was just great to see,” Whittingham said. “He kept his cool, never flinched.”