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No. 24 Utah Utes finally beat the Arizona Wildcats, 36-23

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NCAA Football: Arizona at Utah Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The game could not have gotten off to a worse start for the Utes. Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins found wide receiver Shun Brown for a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage. It looks like Rich Rod may cast his black magic again on the Utes.

Not to mention, Utah’s red zone woes continued to be a pain point early in the game. They managed to drive down to the Arizona two-yard line and put in true freshman Tyler Huntley at quarterback. Nobody is really sure why, but they did. Huntley would fumble the snap, taking Utah back to the Arizona 10-yard line. Utah would ultimately have to settle for a 28-yard Andy Phillips field goal. The teams would trade punts for the rest of the quarter and head into the second quarter with Arizona leading 7-3. Utah would finish the first quarter with zero net rushing yards. Troy Williams did throw for 90 yards in the quarter though.

Arizona would again threaten in the second quarter after Dawkins found Trey Griffey (Ken Griffey Jr’s son y’all!) for a 42-yard pass. Utah cornerback Brian Allen though would intercept Dawkins on the next play, ending the Arizona scoring threat. The Utah offense however could not capitalize on the turnover and had to punt. Arizona would score on their next drive on a 6-yard Dawkins rushing touchdown.

Utah would drive to the Arizona 13-yard line after Williams found Evan Moeai for a 59-yard completion. Utah however would commit three false starts and a chop block, forcing a third and 40 that they could not convert and were forced to punt, pinning Arizona to their own two-yard line (which Mitch Wishnowsky did multiple times on the night). Utah would tackle Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate in the end zone for a safety. It seemed like the football gods saw the travesty of Utah not getting a safety on a hold in the end zone by Arizona. Cory Butler-Byrd would return the safety punt to the Arizona 47-yard line. Utah would drive the 47 yards in eight plays, capped by a three yard Williams touchdown pass to Tyrone Smith.

In the second half, it was all Utah, as they would out score the Wildcats by 24-9 (including a run of 33-3 going back to the first half. Utah came out of the locker room and after a half start (shocker, right?) Troy Williams hit Cory Butler-Byrd for a 68 yard pass, after Butler-Byrd took about a 7 yard crossing route an additional 61 yards on his own. The drive was capped with a Troy Williams 2 yard touchdown run to give Utah their first lead.

Utah continued to lock down Arizona, for the most part, for most of the second half, and the offense would flex there muscles. Utah would pick off the next two Arizona possesions, and they’d proceed to score on each, including a 26 yard touchdown run by Armand Shyne and a 35 yard Andy Phillips field goal.

Arizona would get a garbage touchdown near the end of the game, but once Utah got locked in, they ran away with the game in the 2nd half. With that said this game has two story lines.

First, in the 1st half, and a bit in the 3rd quarter, Utah had around 9 or so false start penalties. How does that happen? It made drives significantly harder when Utah was starting at 1st and 15 most of the time. Utah cleaned a lot of up in the 2nd half, but that’s something that needs cleaned up without question. Utah ended with 14 penalties for 98 yards. That just shows how many five yarders were involved, because 14 penalties would usually mean 150+ yards in penalties. Coach Whitt did say in the post game that Arizona was barking out calls, basically disconcerting the snap, which was never called, but may explain some of the issues.

Second, injuries continue to be an issue. Tim Patrick didn’t play tonight, although he was suited up. Zack Moss didn’t play, and it appears the Utes are down another running back, as Shyne went down with a non-contact injury in the 4th. The hopes are his injury isn’t too bad, but usually an injury like that, to the knee, is bad news, but we’ll await word. Coach Whitt did say in his post game that it doesn’t look good for Shyne. Also, Harrison Handley got beat up a beat, not to mention, Utah was down to their 3rd (or 4th string depending on your perspective) center. Man, Utah needs a BYE week something fierce, but next up is Oregon State and Gary Andersen, who got his first Pac-12 win against Cal on Saturday night.

Here are some of the Utes final stats:

Total yards: 455 (210 rushing, 245 passing)

Turnovers: +3 (all interceptions)

3rd down conversions: 7 of 15

1st downs: 23

Win: #5

Pac-12 win: #2