Phillips secures victory for Utah in a long-awaited moment



Moments after UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley connected with Eldridge Massington on a 40-yard touchdown to give the Bruins a 28-27 lead, Utah kicker Andy Phillips began taking warm-up kicks on the sideline.
He could do the math.
With 4:50 remaining in the contest, a simple field goal could give the Utes the game, but they had to get the drive down the field first.
“Right when it went up 28-27, I thought, ‘Man, this is last week,’” Phillips said.
A week ago against Washington State, the Utes never got in position for Phillips to play hero.
“I saw the fight that we had in our team,” Phillips said. “I knew the way that Booker was running the ball and that Kendal was able to get out of tough situations and make something happen, I knew that’d at least get a chance.”
Kendal Thompson ran for a quick six yards, followed by a 13-yard gain on the ground by Booker.
As the Utes began driving down the field, punter Tom Hackett came and spoke with Phillips. Smiles were exchanged, and at that moment Phillips seemed calm.
The kicker looked toward the field, to the Rose Bowl’s screen, and watched as Utah continued its drive.
Thompson rushed for an 18-yard gain to get the Utes to the UCLA 38-yard line — right at Phillips’ range.
“The way our line was playing, [I had the mindset to] just try to stay ahead of the chains,” Thompson said about the last drive. “They were trying to load the box and play a little heavier on Booker that drive, and I was able to pull it a couple of times, and we felt like we could run the ball, and we moved it right down the field.”
Utah didn’t settle for the long field goal try and continued to pound the ball towards the UCLA goal line. Thompson didn’t throw the ball once on the final drive, as the Utes ran the ball nine straight times.
As the Utah offense was pounding down the field, Nate Orchard came and spoke with Phillips. The two captains embraced, and Orchard left Phillips with one last slap on the shoulder pads.
Phillips took a deep breath and blasted one last kick into the practice net.
On a third and four at the UCLA 11-yard line, Thompson took the snap, ran to the center of the field and took a knee — Phillips’ moment had come.
“I live for those moments,” Phillips said. “I guess that’s why I am the kicker — I love those high pressure moments. It was nice to get a short field goal for a change. I have great protection. I have full faith in my snapper Chase [Dominguez], and [in holder] Tom [Hackett]. I know it’s going to be a perfect snap and hold, so I don’t have to do much but block everything and do my job.”
Phillips did just that, drilling the 29-yard field goal to give the Utes the lead.
Having done all he could, the all-conference kicker was forced to stand and see if the Utah defense could finish off the game. Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley drove UCLA down the field and in place for a long field goal. Phillips, though, couldn’t watch. He turned away and put his head down.
“I wasn’t watching,” Phillips said. “I was just praying and hoping that we’d done enough. He’s a great kicker, he’s made some great kicks in the past, and that’s why I had my head down.”
Phillips didn’t watch either of UCLA’s field goal attempts, but he knew what happened based on his team’s reaction.
Utah had done enough.
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