Utah Football Finishes Regular Season with Undefeated Home Record

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Jonathan Wang

(Photo by Jonathan Wang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

 

The University of Utah football team finished off the regular season on a high note Friday afternoon, winning against the Colorado Buffaloes to keep their record perfect at Rice-Eccles Stadium. 

Cameron Rising threw an interception on Utah’s first drive of the game, setting up Colorado inside Utah’s 20 yard line. Colorado was unable to move the ball at all, as the Utes forced a field goal attempt. The field goal was good and the Buffaloes grabbed an early 3-0 lead.

On the following Utah drive, they continued to pick up first downs as they moved the ball down the field. The offense stalled a little bit just outside of the red zone, and the Utes were forced to attempt a field goal to tie it up. The kick was blocked, and Colorado took over.

Colorado’s offense kept their next drive moving, the biggest play being a long pass downfield to set up the Buffaloes at Utah’s 32-yard line. Clark Phillips III had a very nice moment, defending a pass to the end zone perfectly without fouling.

Another pass break up by Zemaiah Vaughn forced another field goal attempt, and this one missed, giving the Utes the ball back at the very end of the first quarter.

The ball continued to move for Utah, with a big run from TJ Pledger setting up Utah for the score, which came on a touchdown pass to Brant Kuithe from Rising. Utah took the lead, 7-3 just a few minutes into the second quarter.

Utah’s defense ratcheted up the pressure, with Devin Lloyd getting free for a sack and pinning Colorado back for a very long third down. The Buffaloes’ offense began to struggle after a solid opening to the game.

Tavion Thomas picked up a big fourth down conversion inside Colorado territory, and Rising hit Dalton Kincaid for the score from 28 yards out on the next play. After a bit of a slow start, the Utes began to roll on both sides of the ball.

Another three-and-out forced by the Utah defense gave them the ball back very quickly. Utah moved the ball into Buffaloes territory but failed a fourth down conversion, turning the ball over. 

Colorado made a solid drive into Utah territory as the half wound down. Buffaloes kicker Cole Becker nailed a 56-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter, making the score 14-6 at halftime.

Utah allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown at the beginning of the second half. Nikko Reed took one 100 yards to the house to make the score 14-13. It was not an ideal start to the half for Utah.

Thomas punched in a score on Utah’s opening drive of the third quarter. Thomas was the workhorse for the Utes on the drive, taking multiple carries and powering the offense down the field, making the score 21-13 Utes.

The Utes managed to stop the kickoff return on the next try, pinning the Buffaloes at their own 16 yard line. The defense stood tall again, forcing a quick punt. 

Utah moved the ball downfield on a big pass to Britain Covey. Rising began to rush for the score, but saw Covey open a few yards ahead and pitched the ball to him for the touchdown. Utah got Covey involved often in this game, and he had a big day. The touchdown made it 28-13, Utes.

Another stop by the Utes continued the domination by the defense. Colorado continued to struggle to move the ball.

An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Solomon Enis backed Utah up 15 yards, and they couldn’t convert on third down and long. Utah punted back to Colorado with about a minute left in the third quarter.

The Buffaloes finally broke through and had a nice stretch of offense, but the possession ended on a failed fourth down conversion inside Utah territory. 

Utah also turned the ball over on fourth down on their next drive. The clock was ticking, and eventually the game was over with no more scores on either side. Utah remained undefeated at home all season long, winning 28-13. This was the 700th win in program history.

“I think it was a positive ending to the season,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham.

Utah finishes the regular season at 9-3, 8-1 in the Pac-12. They will head to the Pac-12 Championship next week in Las Vegas, with the opponent still to be determined. 

 

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