by Scott Funk (@scottfunk0)
Salt Lake City – The Utes (5-4,2-4) put an end to their four-game losing streak on Saturday night when they topped UCLA (4-5,2-4) 48-17 in the annual blackout game.
For the past several weeks, head coach Kyle Whittingham has been stressing that the Utes offense have yet to find their “identity.” Tonight, they returned to their classic physical run offense and ran the ball 50 times for 272 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
They balanced out their run attack with 15 completeitons through the air for 234 yards and four touchdowns, giving them 506 total yards of offense on the night.
“The offensive line was outstanding,” said Whittingham. “Zack Moss ran hard. Tyler Huntley chipped in with some runs…it was more of a rhythm tonight and as more of the scheme sinks in…we hope to build on it. What you saw tonight was supposed to be what this offense looks like.”
Along with their offense finding their rhythm, the defense for the Utes also had a record night. The Utes defense held the Bruins to just 134 yards on the ground and 115 through the air for a total of 249 total yards of offense, with only 70 in the second half. The 249 yards given up, is the fewest the Utes have given up in a Pac-12 game.
The game started out slow for both teams. Each time had to burn timeouts early because of miscommunications from the sidelines to the players. The Utes were able to strike first on a three yard touchdown run from Zack Moss to make the game 7-0 with the 2:57 left in the first.
UCLA made it 7-3 early in the second quarter with a 37 yard field goal from JJ Molson. After both teams punted, the Utes began what would be their first of five consecutive scoring drives.
With 6:08 to play in the second quarter, Tyler Huntley found Darren Carrington in the end zone for a 25 yard strike to make it 14-3. UCLA would answer right back on the ensuing drive, marching down the field 75 yards on five plays, making it 14-10 with 4:24 to play in the half.
The Utes next drive ended with a 25-yard field goal to make it 17-10 with :07 to play in the half.
The Utes opened up the second half with a touchdown on the first play. Sneaking out of the backfield on a wheel route, Huntley found Troy McCormick for a 75 yard touchdown pass to make it 24-10 with 14:48 in the third.
On the Utes next possession, they ran the ball eight times and passed it once, marching right down the field for 69 yards, capping the drive off with a 20 yard touchdown run from Moss, making it 31-10 with 9:04 left in the third quarter.
On their next possession, Huntley again found an open McCormick, this time in the end zone, for a 13 yard touchdown pass to make it 38-10 with 7:13 to play in the third.
The Bruins were finally able to stop the attack, and held the Utes to a field goal on their next possession. The 50 yard field goal by Matt Gay made it 41-10 with 14:02 to play in the game.
UCLA was able to get on the board in the second half on their next drive, going 75 yards on nine plays to make it 41-17 with 9:59 to play.
As the Utes began to run out the clock, they were still able to put together one last touchdown drive to finish the game, this time giving Cody Ippolito his first career touchdown on a two yard pass from Huntley with 3:27 to play making the final score 48-17.
Huntley would finish the game 15-22 for 234 yards and four touchdowns, along with 93 yards on the ground.
McCormick led the receiving unit with 88 yards on two catches, and had two touchdowns.
Darren Carrington, who did not play in the second half because of an undisclosed injury, had four catches on the night for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Zack Moss led the rushing attack for the Utes with 153 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
The Utes now need one more win to become bowl eligible. They’ll have that opportunity next week when they welcome No. 25 Washington State (7-2,4-2) to Rice-Eccles Stadium next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. MT.