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No. 22 Utah Football Unable to Keep Up With No. 17 Arizona

Utah only began to catch up after a touchdown near the end of the first half, but overall Arizona proved to be too much for the Utah defense, ending the game 18-42.
XIangyao Tang
The Utah Utes take on the University of Oregon Ducks at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


After a crushing loss at Washington last week, No. 22 Utah football (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) was back on the road, playing No. 17 Arizona. The Wildcats are coming off four straight wins, three of them against ranked opponents.


Arizona got the ball to start the game, and it didn’t take them long to get moving. The Wildcats quickly moved down the field, and Tetairoa McMillan found Michael Wiley in the endzone. The trick play opened the scoring, giving Arizona a 7-0 lead.

Utah didn’t do anything on offense, going 3-and-out. Jack Bouwmeester’s punt was blocked and returned two yards for a touchdown, and Utah went down 0-14 just six minutes into the game.

Utah’s next drive started slow, and a third-and-5 scramble by Bryson Barnes wouldn’t go anywhere. A flag was thrown, seeming to be a late hit, before the call was changed and Utah was forced to punt again.

Arizona had another successful drive, capped off with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Noah Fifita. With four minutes left in the first quarter, the Wildcats took a dominant 21-0 lead over Utah.

The first quarter came to a close, and Arizona started the second quarter off strong. On the first play of the game, the Wildcats delivered a 31-yard touchdown pass, putting Utah down 0-28.

Utah’s next drive was their longest yet, with Utah gaining just 18 yards in the three previous drives. Utah put together 60 yards, reaching the redzone before Barnes threw his first interception of the game. Barnes was able to get the tackle, but not before the interception was returned 36 yards.

Despite the interception, Utah was able to get their first defensive stop of the day. Utah forced the 3-and-out, forcing Arizona to take their first punt.

With just over five minutes left in the half, Utah hoped to find points before the clock expired. A pair of long passes from Barnes to Devaughn Vele helped the Utes quickly move into Arizona territory.

Barnes took an endzone shot for Landen King, but an arguable pass interference was uncalled. On third-and-15, Vele would make a sliding catch in the endzone to give Utah their first points of the game.

With under a minute left in the first half, Utah was unable to stop Arizona. Aided by a late hit penalty, Arizona was able to move into Utah territory. Arizona attempted a 37-yard field goal that was deflected by Connor O’Toole, and the Utes went into halftime down 7-28.

Coming out of halftime, Utah got the ball to start the second half. Utah wasn’t able to find the endzone, but narrowed the lead with a 36-yard field goal by Cole Becker.

Utah’s defense was playing well, but Arizona’s offense was able to march down the field. Utah got another stop, and Arizona missed a 50-yard field goal. Despite losing 10-28, the Utes finally started to find momentum.

A dropped pass by Vele looked to be an interception, before an official review ruled the play as an incomplete pass, keeping Utah’s drive alive. Utah was able to bait Arizona into offsides on fourth-and-8, forcing fourth-and-3 before an incompletion gave Arizona possession.

A strong defensive stop got Utah’s offense back on the field, with little time left in the third quarter. Another drop by Vele almost led to another interception, but Utah stayed alive.

Moving down the field, Utah needed a near-perfect quarter to keep their hopes alive. Barnes threw another interception, and Arizona quickly marched into Utah territory. In just over three minutes, the Wildcats found their fifth touchdown of the day. Arizona continued to pile on, taking the 35-10 lead.

Utah finally found momentum, but seemingly too late. Barnes scrambled into the endzone before a holding call brought the playback. Utah faced a fourth-and-20, and Barnes was pressured and forced to throw it away.

Utah’s defense forced their second 3-and-out of the game, and Utah regained possession with three minutes left. The Utes would drive 88 yards, finding the endzone with Munir McClain. An attempted 2-point conversion was incomplete, ending in a defensive holding penalty. Barnes would rush into the endzone on the second attempt, bringing the score to 18-35.

With under one minute left on the clock, the score seemed to be set. A 51-yard touchdown pass from Arizona widened the lead. Utah got the ball and kneeled it out, suffering an 18-42 loss to the Wildcats.


Following Utah’s hard loss against Oregon at the end of October, head coach Kyle Whittingham has continually remarked the importance of not letting a team beat you twice — a mentality that the Utes were able to exercise in the weeks afterward. However, it seems that last weekend’s loss to No. 5 Washington may have gotten the best of Utah.

From the get-go, the Utes evidently struggled to get past the dominant Wildcats. Utah only began to catch up after a touchdown near the end of the first half, but overall Arizona proved to be too much for the Utah defense. 

In terms of yardage, Arizona was exceedingly more efficient with their plays than Utah. Despite having relatively similar rushing and passing yard counts — 320 passing for Utah against Arizona’s 325, and 133 rushing against the Wildcats’ 118 — Arizona still managed to outscore Utah by 25 points.

Barnes marked a new career-high for passing yards, beating his personal best of 267 against Washington with 320 in today’s game. Zemaiah Vaughn and Van Fillinger carried from a defense standpoint, recording seven total tackles with six solo tackles each. Arizona evidently had a better day with third down conversions, converting seven of 11 while Utah managed 11 of 21.

After a rough couple of weeks on the road, the Utes will return home to Rice-Eccles stadium on Saturday the 25th for a highly anticipated match-up against Deion Sanders’ Buffaloes from the University of Colorado. The last regular season game can be found on ESPN at 7:00 a.m. MDT and 92.1 FM radio, with streaming services to be announced.


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About the Contributors
Sean Overton
Sean Overton, Sports Editor
Sean Overton is the Editor of the Sports Desk. He is currently a senior and is majoring in Business Administration with plans to attend law school.
Abbey Thomas
Abbey Thomas, Sports Editor
Abbey Thomas started at the Daily Utah Chronicle in the fall of 2022 as a Sports Writer and is now Assistant Sports Editor for the desk. She is currently studying Cultural Anthropology with a minor in history and hopes to pursue medicine one day. Abbey is a die-hard fan of Real Salt Lake and Manchester City, and loves to travel and practice photography in her free time!
XIangyao Tang
XIangyao Tang, Photo Director
Axe is a photographer and the photo director of the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is from China and is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in digital photography. Axe joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition to his position at the Chrony, he is also a photo intern for University of Utah Athletics. When he's not writing code, you will find him rock climbing, camping, skiing or hiking with his camera.

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