Arizona had 10 points on the board before Utah could blink.
Add in two turnovers and 112 penalty yards and you have a recipe for a rough road to victory. Utah (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) is still in contention for the Pac-12 South, but will need outside help after falling in double overtime in Tucson to Arizona (6-5, 3-5 Pac-12), 37-30.
The Utes defense struggled to keep up with Wildcats quarterback Anu Solomon and their up-tempo offense. Arizona seemed to score at will after long, drawn-out Utah drives. The Wildcats’ three regulation touchdowns were scored in drives of over 68 yards and under 1 minute and 54 seconds.
Solomon sliced the Utes for 277 passing yards, completing 17-of-27 attempts for 2 touchdowns and an interception in the end zone, as well as 86 rushing yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with a head injury in the 4th quarter.
Backup quarterback Jerrard Randall completed only one pass, but it was a game-winning touchdown pass to Nate Phillips in the second overtime.
Despite the painfully slow start, the resilient Utes found a way to claw back before halftime, and eventually take the lead in the 3rd quarter. Utah running back Devontae Booker finished his 7th 100+ yard game rushing this season with 145 total yards. Booker left with an injury in the middle of the game, but backup Joe Williams filled in for 37 rushing yards on 7 carries.
Utah had a chance for a game-winning drive with 4 minutes left in regulation. On 3rd-and-4 from the Utah 31, Travis Wilson’s pass to freshman receiver Tyrone Smith was dropped, forcing a Utah punt, eventually sending the game to overtime.
The Utes and Wildcats traded field goals in the first overtime, forcing another possession for each team. Randall’s fade pass in the end zone to Phillips snuck by Utah cornerback Boobie Hobbs, forcing Utah to try for a touchdown to tie the game.
The Utes converted a 4th-and-8 when Travis Wilson scrambled to his left to keep the Utes alive. But an ensuing 4th-and-16 proved to be too much for the Utes to overcome, as Wilson’s desperation fade route to Kenneth Scott fell incomplete.
As Wildcat fans rushed the field, it felt that Utah’s chances in the Pac-12 South were in serious jeopardy. But while the Utes need some outside help, the Utes need only to beat UCLA and Colorado with a USC loss to advance to their first-ever Pac-12 Championship game.
Utah will face the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, November 21 at Rice-Eccles Stadium at 1:30pm. Coverage will be found all day long on ESPN700. The game will be televised on FOX.
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