by Scott Funk (@scottfunk0)
Salt Lake City – The Utes (5-5,2-5) had a couple chances at the end, but seven turnovers proved to be too much as they fell to No. 19 Washington State (9-2,6-2) 33-25 on Saturday night.
The game started out slow for the Utes. Their first possession ended in a three-and-out and their second possession ended in a fumble, which would be the first of seven turnovers on the game for the Utes.
On its second drive, and after the Demari Simpkins fumble, WSU went 46 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-0 with 9:31 to play in the first.
Utah turned the ball over on their next two possessions via an interception and a fumble by Tyler Huntley.
Utah’s defense came up strong however on those next two WSU drives, forcing a FG on both to make the score 13-0 with 3:49 to play in the first.
WSU continued to play smothering defense on the Utes, not allowing them to get anything going or to put up any points on the board in the first quarter.
The Utes were finally able to get on the board in the second quarter on a 56 yard field goal from Matt Gay to make it 13-3 with 11:19 to play in the half.
After giving up a 25 yard pass play to WSU, the Utes defense held to force a punt. The Utes put together their best drive of the night on their ensuing possession. The drive went for 80 yards on three plays in :48 seconds, featuring a 71-yard pass to Demari Simpkins, and ending on a two yard run for the touchdown for Zack Moss with 8:29 to play in the half.
WSU answered right back on its next drive, going 75 yards for the touchdown on 11 plays to make it 20-10 with 3:02 to play in the half.
To start the third quarter, WSU was putting together a drive until it came to a hault on a Corrion Ballard interception that was returned for 35 yards to the Utah 45.
On the Utes first play on their next possession, they would give it right back via another Tyler Huntley interception.
The third quarter was nearly identical to the first. WSU scored twice, and held the Utes to zero points. Both scores were FG’s, one from 28 and the other from 33 to make it 26-10 going into the fourth quarter.
At the end of the third quarter, the Utes were putting together another solid drive. Five plays into the fourth quarter, the Utes found the end zone on a Zack Moss one yard touchdown run. The two-point try was a successful pass to Siale Fakailoatonga to make it 26-18 with 13:42 to play.
The Utes defense held on WSU’s next drive, but their next drive would only go for two plays, as Zack Moss would fumble on the Utah 14.
Five players later, the Cougars punched it in to make it 33-18 with 8:23 to play in the game, and fans began to head for the exits.
On the Utes next drive, Huntley connected with Samson Nacua on back-to-back plays, before connecting with Raelon Singleton to the WSU 36 yard line. Three plays later, Huntley again found Singleton, this time in the end zone to make it 33-25 with 6:19 to play.
After coming up with another stop, the Utes took over the ball with a chance to tie the game with 3:03 to play. The Utes got the ball into WSU territory on a 11nyard pass to Bryan Thompson. On the next play Tyler Huntley stepped back to pass, only to have the ball tipped and intercepted by WSU defender Chima Onyeukwu with :58 left in the game.
As the majority of the fans left in Rice-Eccles Stadium began to leave, the Utes defense came up with one more stop to give their offense one last try to send the game into overtime with :33 to play.
The Utes got as far as the WSU 46, but the game ended on a intercepted Hail Mary attempt from Troy Williams, to make the final score 33-25.
“That was a good football team,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “They were stingy on defense like they have been all year. I thought our defense was lights out. Washington State averaged less than four yards a play. It was not a enough overcome seven turnovers. As bad as it was, we still had a chance to get it to overtime at the end. The kids are resilient. They never quit. There are no moral victories, but I am still proud of the way they competed.”
The Utes held Washington State to 338 yards of total offense, with 311 in the air and 27 on the ground. Luke Falk finished the game 40-69 for 311 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Utah had 367 yards of total offense, with 305 in the air and 62 on the ground. Zack Moss finished the day with 32 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. Tyler Huntley finished 21-39 for 305 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions. Huntley also rushed the ball for 90 yards on 20 carries.
Up next for the Utes is a trip up to Seattle to face the No. 9 Washington Huskies next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 MT. The game will be televised on ESPN and can be heard on ESPN700.
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