Utah Loses Heartbreaker to Washington State, 28-24

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Kiffer Creveling

Isaiah Johnson-Mack #9 of the Washington State Cougars celebrates after a touchdown catch in an NCAA Football game vs. The University of Utah Utes in Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Zach Janis

The quest to go .500 against the state of Washington was for not, as the Utes dropped their second straight game to the Washington State Cougars, 28-24.

The loss was the second consecutive year that the Utes fell to the Cougars, and the second straight game lost to a Washington-based team.

In a week full of blowouts and upsets, this game was largely a surprise. Washington State was the heavy favorite heading into tonight’s game but required late-game heroics to defeat a Utah squad with a relatively average record coming off of a bye week.

Utah is now 5-5 under head coach Kyle Whittingham when coming off of a weekend away from the field. Whether or not the Utes were simply caught off guard, or facing a better opponent, nobody expected this game to have 52 points scored. Utah’s defense was consistently ranked among the best in the country, and the Cougars headed into the season with a returning core of players on the defense. This game should have remained relatively low-scoring, but apparently, nobody told Tyler Huntley that.

The junior quarterback headed into 2018 with a full load of expectations on his shoulders. After starting slowly in all three games so far, Huntley flipped the script. He ran for two rushing touchdowns and Utah took a 14-7 lead in the first quarter. As a reminder, the Utes put up seven on Washington last week over the course of the whole game.

Utah’s offense completely turned a page and came out of the gate swinging. Washington State fired right back and kept it close as the game progressed.

Neither team had greater than a touchdown lead, and the Cougars’ game-winning score came off an uncharacteristically bad coverage by the Utah defense. Cougar quarterback Gardner Minshew, replacing recent NFL-graduate Luke Falk, threw a lofty ball to wideout Easop Winston, who danced around two Utah defenders before outracing them both to the end zone, to take the lead with four minutes left to play.

Utah’s rushing game was as strong as ever, with over 100 yards out of Zack Moss for the fourth consecutive time this season. The Utah D-line held the Cougars to 13 yards of rushing, their lowest allotted total of the season, including their rout of Weber State.

Utah looks to bounce back and snap their losing streak against #7th ranked Stanford next week in Palo Alto.

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@zachjanis