Utah Football Rolls Over Bruins at Home


Jonathan Wang

(Photo by Jonathan Wang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor

The University of Utah football team grabbed a win Saturday evening, running all over UCLA as they cruised to a 44-24 victory. Tavion Thomas scored four touchdowns and racked up 160 rushing yards to lead the Utes to triumph.

Utah was surgical on its opening drive, using Britain Covey and Thomas to perfection as they punched in a touchdown from 10 yards out on a rush from Thomas. Just over three minutes into the game, the Utes were on the board.

UCLA then took a long drive into Utah territory, where Utah made a huge defensive stop on their own 10-yard line. Forcing 4th down, UCLA took the field goal and made the lead 7-3. The Bruins possessed the ball for nearly 8 minutes and ended up with just a field goal.

A dangerous pass from Cameron Rising was nearly picked off, but Dalton Kincaid managed to haul it in for a big gain to set up Utah inside UCLA’s 30-yard line. The first quarter came to a close with Utah inside the Red Zone.

A special ceremony between quarters marked the official retirement of the number 22 in honor of Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe. It will never be worn at Utah again.

On the first play of the second quarter, Thomas punched in another touchdown from eight yards out. 14-3 Utah. It was another quick drive, with the possession of the ball being just under four minutes.

UCLA scored on a 30-yard rushing touchdown. Utah failed to stop them on third and fourth down multiple times, and the score came on a fourth-down conversion, putting the score at 14-10 Utes.

TJ Pledger ripped off a huge run to set up the Utes just outside of the Red Zone, going for their third score. Rising hit Kincaid for a four-yard touchdown to put the Utes up 21-10. That’s three touchdowns in three tries for Utah.

At the beginning of the Bruins’ next drive, Nephi Sewell picked off UCLA quarterback Ethan Garbers to give Utah the ball back with great field position. Thomas scored again on a 10-yard rush for his third touchdown of the night. 

UCLA was forced to punt, and then Utah turned the ball over on downs with one minute left in the half. 

The Bruins were able to move the ball enough to get into range for a long field goal, which was missed from 55 yards out. Utah took the lead into halftime, 28-10.

Utah’s defense came up with a huge stop on fourth down on UCLA’s first possession of the second half. Garbers took a big hit and went down, forcing an incomplete pass.

Utah’s next possession ended in a missed 47-yard field goal from Jordan Noyes.

A three-and-out by the Utah defense forced a punt. After an electric offensive first half, the second was a little slow-going to begin.

Utah ran a trick play where Rising faked the pass and ended up as the punter on fourth down. He pinned the ball at the UCLA nine yard line.

A few penalties from the Utes combined with chunk plays from the Bruins set up UCLA in scoring position. Garbers hit Michael Ezeike for a score from the six yard line to make it 28-17 Utes.

Utah executed very well on their next drive, continuing the drive each time it looked in danger and getting inside UCLA territory at the end of the third quarter.

Rising punched the ball in on the first play of the fourth quarter, following another tribute to Lowe and Jordan. 35-17 Utah.

Vonte Davis took a hard hit on UCLA’s next possession. He was shaken up but was able to walk off the field.

UCLA found the end zone following a pass interference penalty. The touchdown made it 35-24 Utah with 11 minutes to play.

Rising punted again for Utah at the end of the next drive, putting the ball on the six-yard line.

Hauati Pututau got to Garbers on the first play of the next drive for a safety to push the lead to 37-24 and get the ball back. With just over seven minutes left in the game, Utah was playing the clock and UCLA.

Thomas continued to run the ball well, picking up a first down to force UCLA to use all of their remaining timeouts. He then punched in his fourth touchdown of the night, a 24-yard score to put the game away for the Utes. 44-24 with under 5 minutes to play.

Thomas and head coach Kyle Whittingham credited the offensive line for helping Thomas to score four times.

“It made it easy for me,” said Thomas.

“Offensive line deserves a huge shoutout,” said Whittingham.

UCLA attempted to score at the end to give themselves a chance but turned the ball over on downs. Utah wins, 44-24.

The Utes now take commanding control of the Pac-12 South after this win, combined with Arizona State’s loss. Utah has two wins up in the South on everyone but the Sun Devils, who they beat earlier this year and hold the tiebreaker over. 

“We’re making sure that we’re in the right position that we want to be in,” said Rising. “We’re not worried about anyone else.”

“With Arizona State getting beat, it puts us in a pretty good position,” said Whittingham. “Good win for our guys tonight. Really good win.”

The Utes are back in action next week in San Francisco against Stanford. The game will kick off at 8:30 p.m. MDT and will air on FS1.


[email protected]