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No. 23/24 Utah rallies to beat USC 31-27

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NCAA Football: Southern California at Utah Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Was there a game on Friday night? Oh, yeah, there was, because Utah rallied from a 14 point deficit to beat USC on Friday night 31-27. It wasn’t easy for the Utes, as USC started the game on offense and had a nice drive going, but a Justin Davis fumble at the Utah 41-yard line ended the drive. Chase Hansen, being the ballhawk he’s becoming, forced the fumble, and Hunter Dimick recovered it. After the fumble recovery, Utah went on a 12 play 59-yard drive to score the first touchdown of the game. Utah did not attempt a single pass, and the drive was capped by a 10-yard touchdown run by Troy Williams. Utah’s 7-0 lead was short lived, however, as Utah made the mistake of kicking to Adoree Jackson, who returned the kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to tie up the game at seven apiece. It was Jackson’s third career kickoff return touchdown, and his second against Utah (he also returned one 100 yards against Utah in 2014). Utah would again drive deep into USC territory on the ensuing drive, but a fumble from Moss that was recovered by Jackson ending Utah’s scoring threat. USC would drive into the Utah red zone, but USC freshman quarterback Sam Darnold would fumble. Utah was not able to do anything after the fumble though, and was forced to punt. Mitch Wishnowsky boomed a 58-yard punt to pin USC at their own 3-yard line. USC drove into Utah territory again, but again put the football on the ground, and Utah recovered. Williams found Tim Patrick for his first catch of the game for 40 yards to put Utah into USC territory. Jackson had great coverage on the play, it was just an even better pass from Williams. Utah’s drive stalled, though, and the Utes were forced to kick a field goal. Andy Phillips gave the Utes the 10-7 lead with his 36-yard field goal.

USC would nearly fumble again on the first play of their drive, but it was ruled an incomplete pass - even if it was probably a fumble. Davis would then gash the Utes for a 50-yard run. Davis would finish the drive with a 14-yard rushing touchdown to give the Trojans a 14-10 lead. Utah was forced to punt on their next drive, and USC would get a field goal with only 0:35 left before halftime, giving the Trojans a 17-10 halftime lead.

Things didn’t get much better for the Utes, as they came out of the locker room after halftime and couldn’t generate much of a drive and had to punt. Immediately after Utah kicked it over to USC, the Trojans marched down the field to punch in a touchdown to take a 24-10, and things were looking pretty dreary, like the rainy weather, for the Utes.

On the night, Utah really had a hard time stopping USC, especially since USC’s o-line really stepped up tonight and gave freshman Sam Donarld a ton of time to get comfortable. USC ended up putting up 466 yards on Utah’s offense, which is almost unheard of, with 213 on the ground and 253 through the air. Utah’s defensive line only was able to pressure Darnold a few times, and with Lowell Lotulelei on the sideline with an injury most of the game, they were being neutralized. Combined with Utah’s corners playing off, not wanting to get beat, it was a bad combo for the Utes. However, when Utah needed a stop on defense, they finally got one forcing USC to punt with 5:37 remaining in the game.

Trailing by 10 in the 4th quarter, the lights seemingly turned on for Williams, as he led the Utes down the field for 3 consecutive touchdowns (the 1st coming in the 3rd quarter), but the biggest was the final TD. Utah was backed up to their own seven yard line, and things started pretty shaky, as Utah was promptly in a 3rd and 10. A PI on USC gave the drive some life. Williams continued to slice up USC’s defense until we got to the 44 yard line of the Trojans, and after a false start, the Utes faced 3rd and 15. A 14 yard strike from Williams to Singleton brought Utah to within a yard, and Armand Shyne picked up a big 3 yards on 4th down to keep the drive alive for Utah. Want an amazing stat for a Kyle Whittigam team? Utah was 4-for-4 on 4th down in the game, but none bigger than the last one. Utah had 4th and 1 on USC’s 23 yard line, well within Andy Phillips range, but Whitt didn’t blink and went for it on 4th, and Utah’s stud freshman running back Zack Moss picked up 5 yards to move the chains, again. On the very next play, Williams hit Tim Patrick in the end zone to give Utah the 31-27 lead, and Patrick’s 100th receiving yard on the night. All that was left was for Utah to not allow a hail mary, and that’s what they did to go 4-0, and 1-0 in the Pac-12.

Wow, what a night.