First came the good. Then came the bad. Then came the downright ugly, as the Utah Utes fell to the Stanford Cardinal 23-20, suffering their first loss of the season. The Utes walked out of Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday night 4-1 and 1-1 in Pac-12 play.
Troy Williams, filling in for an injured Tyler Huntley, made his first start of the season at quarterback. Williams threw for 238 yards (20-of-39), a touchdown and two interceptions. Williams was seemingly perfect in the first three quarters of the game – not doing anything fancy, just putting the ball where it needed to be. Then came the fourth quarter where he had two costly mistakes. A touchdown run seemed promising following a 24 yard touchdown run by Darren Carrington, which moved the Utes deep into the Cardinal 25. That high was shortly lived after Quenton Marks intercepted a tipped ball at the Stanford 16. Williams’ second interception was back-to-back and came on Utah’s next drive, when Justin Reid snatched the ball at the Stanford 43. Any hopes of a comeback were shattered.
Although there were a couple of big catches from Darren Carrington tonight, it seemed as if Troy Williams missed a lot of opportunity to connect with the wide-open wide receiver at times. Carrington finished with 99 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. That touchdown came with 44 seconds left on the clock in the 4th quarter. Williams connected with Carrington on an 18-yard touchdown pass. The Utes couldn’t recover the onside kick and that was the game.
Zack Moss led Utah in rushing. He rushed for a season-high 79 yards on 15 carries with a two-yard touchdown run. He has three rushing touchdowns this season, tying him for the team lead.
Matt Gay missed his first field goal of the season (50 yards). He then tied the score at 10 right before halftime. Prior to the first miss, Gay was 14/14 on field goals for the season. Coach Kyle Whiitingham picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which caused the Utes 15 yards, after Gay went down on the play after being hit.
Other offensive notes
The Utes had another game where they had more field goals than touchdowns. I don’t know what was or wasn’t said during the halftime speech but the Utes looked terrible to start the third quarter. Here’s the breakdown: a three-and-out, then a low punt snap was fumbled by punter Mitch Wishnowsky, and that led to Cardinal ball at the Utah 15-yard line. Utah’s defense came up big and forced a Stanford field goal. The Cardinal took the lead – 16-10 in the third quarter.
This game was the true test for Utah’s defense, and they passed, yielding only 384 total yards. Just because I said they passed, doesn’t mean they were perfect! The defensive line gave up three big runs to Bryce Love. Love ran for 152 yards and a touchdown. The Utes were able to contain the nation’s leading rusher for most of the night but the Cardinal kept feeding their star faithfully. On his 18th touch, Love shook off two Utah defenders and ran for a 68-yard touchdown, which put the Cardinal up 23-13 with 12:02 remaining in the game. Love was also right there on the onside kick recovery that sealed the win for Stanford.
Sunia Tauteoli led Utah in tackles for the third time this season with 11, which ties his career-high. He had a team-high 3.5 tackles for loss on the night.
What are your takeaways from the game? Leave them in the comment section below.