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No. 18 Utah Falls for the First Time in 2016 28-23 at Cal

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NCAA Football: Utah at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 Utah (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) falls for the first time at Cal (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) 28-23. This game came down to Utah first and goal at the Cal nine-yard line. Utah failed to convert on fourth and goal from the Cal 11, but a pass interference call temporarily bailed out the Utes. They would fail to score with three chances from the Cal two-yard line. Moss was dropped short twice, and tight end Evan Moeai dropped a potential game winning touchdown pass. On the incompletion to Moeai, quarterback Troy Williams likely could have walked into the end zone for the win.

The Cal offense showed on the first drive of the game why they are one of the most explosive offenses in the country. They started the game with a five play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Davis Webb to Chad Hansen. Cal would again score in the first quarter when Webb found Demetrius Robertson for a 39-yard touchdown pass. Utah would not get on the board in the first quarter. On the first play of the second quarter, Andy Phillips made a 40-yard field goal to get the Utes on the board down 14-3. Utah would stop Cal on their ensuing drive, but a bad return from Boobie Hobbs would put the Utes at their own five-yard line. The Utes would go on a 21 play drive capped by a four-yard rushing touchdown by Armand Shyne. The Utah offense burned over nine minutes off the clock on the drive. They had a Tim Patrick fumble overturned and were also aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Cal’s Cameron Saffle to extend the drive. Utah cornerback Brian Allen was picked on for much of the first half, but he intercepted Webb on the next Cal drive. Utah would not be able to capitalize right before halftime though as Phillip’s 48-yard field goal attempt came up short. Utah entered halftime down 14-10. Utah held Cal to only their second scoreless quarter of the season (the other being the third quarter against Texas).

Utah would start the second half with a promising drive, getting into Cal territory, but the drive would stall. Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky would pin Cal at their own five-yard line, and the Golden Bears would go three-and-out. Utah would then go on a 13 play, 59-yard touchdown drive capped by a two-yard Shyne touchdown run. Cal would answer though. It would only take the Cal offense eight plays to cover 74 yards. Webb capped the drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Hansen. Utah’s next drive would drive to the Cal 10-yard line, but they would fail to convert their first fourth down of the season when Moss was stopped short on a fourth and inches. Cal would make Utah pay with Webb finding Robertson for a 56-yard touchdown pass to cap a six play, 89-yard drive.

Williams stepped up big on the ensuing drive, hitting Raelon Singleton for a 21-yard gain and Tyrone Smith for a 35-yard gain to the Cal inch line. Moss would punch in the touchdown on the next play. Down 28-23, Utah would go for two and fail to convert. The Utah defense would stiffen on the next drive, recording their first sack of the game to force a three-and-out for Cal. Utah would drive to the Cal one-yard line, but they could not punch the ball into the end zone.

This was a game where the Utes had a ton of opportunities to win this game. Seven chances with goal to go, a failed fourth and short, and giving up multiple home run pass plays to Cal. It was the Cal defense that stepped up and got the win for the Golden Bears with the goal line stop. Utah started the game without defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei and wide receiver Cory Butler-Byrd. They lost center J.J. Dielman, wide receivers Kyle Fulks and Tim Patrick, and cornerback Reggie Porter to injuries during the game. Despite the injuries, Utah had a great opportunity to win this game, but they just could not capitalize. Missed chances will be the story of this loss.