Poinsettia Bowl recap

In what turned out to be a tale of two halves, Utah came back, nearly lost the lead and finally was able to hang on to defeat Navy 35-32 in the Poinsettia Bowl. It marked Utah's seventh straight bowl win, tying Boston College for the nation's longest winning streak.


Photo courtesy of AP

Utah got on the board first, going up 7-0 before Navy rattled off 17 straight points to take what appeared to be a commanding 17-7 lead early in the third quarter. That scoring spurt seemed to wake the Utes up on the offensive end, as Brian Johnson and Co. began an air assault which not only got Utah back into the game, but gave them a two score lead in the fourth quarter. That's where things got interesting.

After Brian Johnson scored on a 19 yard touchdown run, the Utes took a 28-17 lead, 21 unanswered points, and looked poised to blow the game open. However, Navy put together a successful drive that ended with a 10 yard pass from Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada to Shun White. The Midshipmen converted the two point conversion and cut Utah's lead to three. With the game tightening and time being a factor, the Utes began another drive that appeared to be once again successful, as they marched down the field and into Navy territory. Yet Utah caught a break, as Jerome Brooks bolted for the end zone, fumbled the ball and appeared to do it while in bounds. The ball rolled into the end zone, which should have been ruled a touchback, however, Utah kept possession and had a chance to score from Navy's 1 on fourth down. The Utes failed to punch it in and the Midshipmen took over on downs.

Starting within their own five, Navy struggled to move the ball and on 4th and short, failed to convert, giving the Utes the ball once again deep in their territory. There, unlike the last time, Utah managed to score with less than 2 minutes left in the game to go up 35-25. But Navy wasn't done and managed to fight back with little time left.

With time against them, the Midshipmen began a crucial drive to get back into it. On the fourth play, 10 yards into their drive, Kaheaku-Enhada found Zerbin Singleton down the middle for a 58 yard touchdown. After the successful PAT, Navy had cut Utah's lead to only 3 and went for the onside kick, their last chance at victory.

The onside kick got the perfect bounce, appeared to have originally been caught by Utah, but Navy came up with it, giving them one last shot at the improbable. Looking down field, trying desperately to get Navy into field goal range, Kaheaku-Enhada tossed the ball down field, only to have it intercepted by Utah's Joe Dale, preserving Utah's 7th straight bowl win.


Photo courtesy of AP

Brian Johnson was named the Poinsettia Bowl MVP after connecting on 20 of 25 passes for 226 yards. He also ran for 69 yards, including a 19 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. It was clearly one of the best performances of Johnson's career and offered a glimpse of what he can do when healthy. With now until the summer to really rest, Johnson should be primed to go once the Utes take on Michigan in Ann Arbor to start next season.

This was a big win for Utah, as it gives them 9 or more wins for only the fifth time in school history. But most importantly, it preserves their bowl winning streak and gives the team some great momentum heading into next year.


Photo courtesy of AP

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