A 38-yard field goal as time expired was the difference maker for the University of Utah football team (5-6 overall, 2-6 Pac-12) as it dropped its last road game in Seattle against Washington (9-2 overall, 6-2 Pac-12), 30-33. Despite pulling a few tricks out of their sleeves, like an onside kick and fake punt, the Utes were handed their sixth loss in seven games, and their chance to become bowl eligible hinges on next week’s game against Colorado.
“I felt like we played well as a group, we just didn’t come out with the win,” said cornerback Julian Blackmon in a Utah Athletics press release. “But if we play this way next week, I feel like we could do a lot better.”
Tyler Huntley went 19-of-27 for 293 yards in the air, two touchdowns and one interception. Of the 117 total yards Utah gained on the ground, Zack Moss led the way with 17 carries for 55 yards, and Raelon Singleton led all receivers with five receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
Although Utah and Washington didn’t start the game off on the right foot — UW quarterback Jake Browning was sacked and Utah went three-and-out — they both managed to turn things around. Approximately eight minutes into the game, Myles Gaskin powered through the Utah defense for a 9-yard rushing touchdown to give UW a 0-6 edge (Washington missed the PAT). Utah found itself in a fourth-and-one scenario on the following drive at the Washington 47-yard line, and instead of punting, they took a risk and went for it. Moss picked up the first down and Singleton had a 40-yard touchdown catch to give the Utes a one-point lead.
Utah was looking for another opportunity to get the ball back and it did so by virtue of an on-side kick from Mitch Wishnowsky, and he recovered the ball on his own team’s 48-yard line. It was a momentum changer, but the end result wasn’t the outcome Utah wanted as it had to settle for a Matt Gay field goal.
Although the Utes’ defense caused Browning to scramble a bit here and there, he threw a 6-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter. Huntley had a rough next couple of drives after the Huskies took the 10-13 lead. He was picked off and the next time he stepped on the field, he was sacked and the punting unit was forced to take over. Both teams drilled a field goal to close out the first half as Utah trailed 13-16.
Coming out of the break, Huntley was moving the offense downfield with the help of Moss and Demari Simpkins, then Utah was called for a false start and the loss of yards ultimately made Utah settle for a field goal. Both teams closed its final third-quarter drives with touchdowns, including an 11-yard touchdown pass from Huntley to Singleton.
In the fourth quarter, Wishnowsky faked a punt on fourth-and-17 as he ran for 19 yards, and while he got the down, Utah ended up at its 31-yard line after Wishnowsky was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. This didn’t hamper the Utah offense though. Huntley led his team down the field and ran it in for a 5-yard touchdown to give Utah 30-23 lead, however, the Huskies matched the score with 58 seconds left in the game as Gaskin had a 2-yard rushing touchdown.
So with less than a minute left for Utah to clinch a victory, its final drive of the game consisted of an 8-yard gain, followed by an incomplete pass and a fumble. Although it was recovered by Huntley, the Utes were forced to punt with 29 seconds left.
“You know, we had a chance to salt it away if we could make a first down. One more first, I don’t know, a lot of ifs,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham in a Utah Athletics press release. “Bottom line, they made the plays they needed to make to win that football game. ”
On the final drive of the game, Browning found Dante Pettis and Andre Baccellia for first downs to get Washington in field goal range where Tristan Vizcaino sent the ball through the uprights.
“We had to be aggressive against a team like this. On the road, in particular, it’s a tough place to play, and you have to be aggressive,” Whittingham said in a Utah Athletics press release. “We went for some fourth downs, converted them, had the onside kick and fake punt. So yeah, we’re playing to win. Like I said, we just came up short. I thought we played very well for 58 minutes.”
Utah will wrap up its regular season at Rice-Eccles Stadium against Colorado at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25.