Joe Williams set a school record for rushing yards in a game to help his team win a shootout with UCLA at the Rose Bowl, 52-45.
LOS ANGELES—Utah running back Joe Williams set a school record for rushing yards in a game to help his team win a shootout with UCLA at the Rose Bowl, 52-45. Williams cut through the Bruins’ (3-5, 1-4 Pac-12) defense for 332 yards on 29 attempts, scoring four touchdowns.
Utah (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) tied their offensive yardage record since its time in the Pac-12 with 539. The Utes’ usual stifling defense, suffering from injuries in key positions, allowed 510 yards from the Bruins, including 464 through the air.
Three of Williams’ four touchdowns came on runs of at least 43 yards. His 332 yards were the most by any running back in Division I college football this season.
The Utes defense mostly struggled in an offensive battle, a situation Utah isn’t typically in. The last time Utah won a game when allowing more than 40 points was in 1996 against Kansas.
However, when a stop was needed, a stop was given by the Utes, who forced five turnovers and had one fourth-down stop in a key moment near the end of the first half. Brian Allen came down with two interceptions for Utah, as did safety Jordan Fogal, who made his first start in place of injured star Marcus Williams.
Utah will have their hands full this week in practice with injuries taking a toll and the undefeated Washington Huskies coming to town next Saturday. The Utes showed toughness, coming out strong, losing momentum and the lead, and battling back in the new territory of an offensive shootout.
Cory Butler-Byrd sliced his way through UCLA on the opening kickoff 99 yards to the end zone to give Utah a 7-0 lead just seconds into the game.
On Utah’s next drive, the Utes took four plays to go 59 yards, and took a quick 14-0 lead on a Joe Williams 3-yard touchdown run.
But as fast as Utah gained its momentum, they lost it. Three big penalties escorted UCLA down the field in their next drive, resulting in a Mike Faful touchdown pass to running back Bolu Olorunfunmi.
Troy Williams was stripped of the football as he was sacked by UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley, which the Bruins turned into another touchdown score.
After the Bruins scored a third touchdown, the Utah defense bucked up and took momentum back. Three of the Bruins’ final six drives of the half ended in a turnover, in a addition to two punts and a turnover on downs.
After taking a 27-21 lead into halftime, Utah allowed UCLA to drive 75 yards on their opening second half drive to the end zone, on a Fafaul 50-yard pass to Nate Iese. The Bruins followed that with another touchdown drive on a 75-yard Fafaul pass to Jordan Lasley, but could not stop the Joe Williams attack behind the Utes’ dominant offensive line.
Both teams traded touchdowns and punts, with a handful of Andy Phillips field goals mixed in. Utah gained a 14-point lead on Williams’ second-longest rush touchdown of 55 yards to put the Utes up 52-38. The clock became the Bruins’ enemy, and Utah’s defense snuffed out the final effort from UCLA.
Utah continues to stay atop the Pac-12 South division alongside the Colorado Buffaloes. The Utes will likely face their toughest test of the season next Saturday with the undefeated Washington Huskies coming to Salt Lake City.
Kyle Whittingham Network Postgame:
Joe Williams Postgame:
Hunter Dimick Postgame:
Jordan Fogal Postgame:
Brian Allen Postgame: