No. 10 Utes Suffer First Loss of Season


University of Utah senior quarterback Tyler Huntley (1) gets tackled after a short gain on the USC Trojan defense at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 20, 2019.(Justin Prather | The Daily Utah Chronicle).

By Sammy Mora, Sports Editor


It was a rough night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the No. 10 University of Utah football team (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12). The Utes not only suffered their first loss of the season but open conference play with a loss. The Utes fell to in conference rival USC (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12) 30 to 23. 

While the Utes had more total offense than the Trojans, it just wasn’t enough. 

On the first series of the game, starting Trojan quarterback Kedon Slovis was injured on a sack by Leki Fotu. From then on it was Matt Fink time for the Trojans. On his first drive Fink connected with Tyler Vaughns to give the Trojans the early lead. 

Utah was quick to respond on their first drive. After Tyler Huntley connected with Jaylen Dixon for a 38-yard pass, Devontae Henry-Cole punched the ball in from 7-yards out to tie the game up. 

Running back Zack Moss wasn’t as impactful as the team would have hoped. He was injured early on in the game. His status is to be announced on Monday. 

USC wasn’t going to roll over that easy. On their next drive they marched down the field and Fink threw his second touchdown of the night, this time to Amon-Ra St. Brown. The 31-yard reception put the Trojans back in front 14-7 with under 10 minutes left in the first quarter. 

Utah’s second drive ended with a turnover on downs but the ensuing USC drive was short lived, as Fotu forced a fumble which was recovered by Mika Tafua. The drive led to 38-yard field goal attempt by Jadon Redding. 

Utah got the ball back with 5 minutes left in the first half and after what looked like the play that could put the Utes back in the lead, Devin Brumfield fumbled the ball on the USC 6-yard line. 

At the end of the first half USC lead 14-10. 

Utah received the opening kickoff of the second half. Their first drive ended with a Ben Lennon punt that went 37-yards and started the Trojans off inside their own 20-yard line. 

That didn’t matter for USC, their drive was capped off by a 77-yard touchdown pass from Fink to Michael Pitman Jr.

Pittman scorched the usually stout Utah secondary. At the end of the game he had 232-yards on 10 receptions and one touchdown. 

Head coach Kyle Whittingham was just as shocked as everyone else to see how uncharacteristically poor the secondary was on the night. 

“That is a really, really talented group, I don’t think you’ll see a group that talented the rest of the year,” Whittingham started. “We just couldn’t locate the ball. Often times we were in position but couldn’t locate the ball, couldn’t find it. Couldn’t go up and snatch it. We seemed a little disoriented at times.” 

“We just came out and we weren’t ready,” Julian Blackmon said. “I feel like this is what we practiced but we came out a little slow and they just kept on going.” 

After the following Utah drive stalled, USC took over with under 6 minutes left in the third. On their second play of the drive Fink was intercepted by Terrell Burgess. This was a turning point for the team. 

“I’m one of those guys that just wants to help the team win,” Terrell Burgess said. “Anything I can do to help the team win, but honestly that didn’t happen tonight but anything I could do to help the team get some momentum that’s what I did.” 

Utah took the turnover and turned it into 7 points as Huntley connected with Cole Fotheringham to put the Utes back in within 4. 

That was the final score of the third quarter, and USC still lead 21-17. 

Utah was quick to score in the fourth quarter, as Redding attempted a 24-yard kick that was good. After a USC punt, Utah was pinned in their own end zone and it didn’t end well for the team. Huntley was flagged for intentional grounding in the endzone which lead to a USC safety.

After the free kick from Utah, USC was quick with the ball as they marched the ball down the field and scored their final points of the game off a Markese Stepp 4-yard rush. 

Utah’s final score of the game came from Redding who kicked a 38-yard FG to close out the game for the Utes. 

When it was all said and done, Utah had 457-yards of total offense to USC’s 381. Utah also destroyed USC in the run game with 247 total rushing yards. USC had 13-yards of rushing at the end of the game. 

According to Whittingham there were three things that lead to the team’s demise tonight. 

“Penalties, the inability to score on that last drive of the first half and and not having the answer for the deep ball,” Whittingham said. 

Both teams ended up with triple digit penalty yards. Utah had 16 penalties for 120-yards and USC faired just as well committing 11 penalties for 117-yards. 

But there is no time to dwell on the loss. The team will face a top 25 team in Washington State next week at Rice-Eccles. 

“We get back on Monday and we go as hard as we can,” Burgess said. “We can’t mess around. Nobody in the south is going undefeated so we gotta just keep moving forward and get ready for next week.” 

This is nowhere near the end for the Utes. The team started 0-2 in conference play before making a run to be the south champions. 

“This is a tough group. They’re proud, they’re hard working, they’re mature and they have great leadership. Like I said I’ll bet any amount that no one is going through the south undefeated, so we still have a shot. We have a lot of football left to play,” Whittingham said. 

“At the end of the day we still got a whole lot of football left to play,” Blackmon started. “It’s only our fourth game, we know that, we still got a lot of football left to play. We know what happened last year and we got to be ready for the next game. We are over this game already.” 


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