Live by the three, die by the three – it's an old adage from basketball, but it applies to the Utah football team. Last night in Tempe, No. 18 Utah kept things close and took the game into overtime at 16-16, but in the extra period, Andy Phillips wasn't, well, automatic. Phillips missed his field goal attempt from 35 yards, and on the ensuing possession Arizona State's kicker didn't miss, kicking the game winner from 36 yards.
Phillips had made field goals from 50, 36, and 44 yards to keep Utah in the game. In overtime, Phillips lined up his 35-yarded and pushed it to the right. But Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham had called a timeout, as the play clock was running down, giving Phillips another attempt. On the second attempt, Phillips missed again, overcorrecting to the left and opening the door for Arizona State to win with just a field goal.
Utah's offense struggled all game long, but the bright spot, as usual, was running back Devontae Booker. The junior rushed for over 100 yards for the fifth consecutive game, logging 137 yards against a stout Sun Devils defense. He also caught two passes, one for the Utes lone touchdown. (Booker has now amassed 990 yards on the season and appears poised to break the hallowed 1,000-yard mark. He'd need to average a little more than his current 123.75 yards per game to challenge the season record held by John White IV, 1,519 yards.)
Starting quarterback Travis Wilson ran 14 times for 70 yards, but his passing numbers were underwhelming. Wilson went 12-of-22 passing for just 57 yards and the one touchdown to Booker. The junior signal caller was under pressure all night from a defense that had gone the year blitzing on more than half their plays. Arizona State head coach Todd Graham dialed up blitzes from every angle, often bringing corners to speed rush, as well as linebackers. The Sun Devils took Wilson down three times during the game and rushed him several times more.
Walk-on wide receiver Tim Patrick led the Utes in receiving (in relief of the injured Dres Anderson) with 3 catches for 33 yards.
Defensively, the Utes were as stingy as usual. Utah recorded four more sacks, including two by defensive end Hunter Dimick, giving him nine for the season. Fellow end Nate Orchard also increased his sacks by one, raising his total to 12 on the season. Orchard has already tied Steve Clark (1981) for fourth most in a season and is just three behind all-time leader Jimmy Bellamy (1991). Defensive tackle Viliseni Fauonuku also recorded a bull rush sack.
Utah harrassed ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly into just an 18-of-32 passing performance (56%). In addition to the four sacks, the Utes defense recorded a timely interception of Kelly to stop a potential touchdown drive. But Demario Richard gashed the Utes for 116 yards rushing (8.3 yards per carry), yet the Utes didn't let him into the end zone.
Next up for the Utes is a home date Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. MT against No. 5 Oregon, a game that will be carried by ESPN.