It was a sloppy start for the University of Utah football team (5-4 overall, 2-4 Pac-12) that faced UCLA (4-5 overall, 2-4 Pac-12) on Friday night in Rice-Eccles Stadium, but the Utes eventually found their footing and went on to win 17-48 to snap their four-game losing streak. Head coach Kyle Whittingham was pleased with his team’s performance and its ability to run the ball effectively and stop the run.
“[I’m] very proud of the coaching staff. Great plan they put together,” Whittingham said. “Both coordinators, Troy Taylor and coach [Morgan] Scalley … and their assistants worked hard all week. Players did a great job executing.”
Utah’s offense could not get into any sort of rhythm during the first quarter. On its first drive of the game, Tyler Huntley, who went 15-of-22 for 234 passing yards and four touchdowns, ran it twice before being sacked for a quick three-and-out. The next time the Utes had the ball, they were called for an illegal substitution which lead to the punting unit being called on the field, however, the Utah offense didn’t stay on the sideline for long. Caleb Repp forced a fumble and Boobie Hobbs recovered it to put the Utes at the UCLA 16-yard line.
In the red zone for its first time during the game, an area that Utah has struggled with in previous weeks, Zack Moss found his way to the end zone to get Utah on the board first. Moss finished the night with 23 carries for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
“We wanted to get this team back on track and do what we do best and win some games,” Moss said. “It felt good.”
Both teams scored in the second quarter, but not before Marquise Blair was helped off the field after going down on a non-contact injury. After the game, Whittingham said it looks like Blair’s injury is season-ending, but they will know more in the coming days. Chase Hansen, Kylie Fitts and Casey Hughes were other Utes who got beat up during the game.
The Bruins kicked a 37-yard field goal to start the scoring in the second quarter, and the Utes nailed a 25-yarder to close the half. In between the pair of field goals, both squads added seven points to their score. Huntley connected with Carrington for a 25-yard touchdown catch before the Bruins had a 24-yard touchdown pass of their own.
Utah led 17-10 at the half, and it had even more energy coming out of the break. Moss said the game plan this week was to get the run game going, and Utah was able to do that. Troy McCormick Jr. dominated the field just 12 seconds into the second half as he caught a pass from Huntley for a 75-yard touchdown. Moss continued to make the ground rumble with a 20-yard rushing touchdown and less than two minutes later, McCormick caught his second touchdown of the night from 13 yards out.
The scoring fiasco continued for Utah in the final quarter of the game. Matt Gay went 2-for-2 on field goals on the night, including a 50 yarder — his fourth 50 plus field goal this season — to give Utah a 41-10 edge early in the fourth quarter. Both teams added one final touchdown before time expired.
“The offensive line played outstanding. Zack Moss ran hard. Tyler Huntley chipped in with some runs,” Whittingham said. “What you saw tonight is what this offense is supposed to look like.”
The Utes will be back in action at home on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 3:30 p.m. when they host Washington State.