Domination. That’s the word that comes to mind for this game tonight for the Utes, as they rolled by UCLA 49-3 on Saturday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Bruins did make some moves on offense, but each time they threated to score, the Utes would turn them over. The Utes turned them over five times on the day, with all of them coming in their own territory, and with a couple of them coming in the red zone.
The defense remained dominate, and was impressive against UCLA’s rush offense, which has been very good in Pac-12 play. The Utes held UCLA to 50 net rushing yards, which takes into account sacks, which the Utes got to Dorian Thompson-Robinson five times. They did hold Joshua Kelly, one of the Pac-12’s top running backs to under 100 yards, with just 78. The defense got impressive performances by a number of different guys. Julian Blackmon was all over the field, with 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one interception, and one forced fumble. The fumble was the most impressive, as he got a running start on a safety blitz and knocked the ball out of DTR’s hands, where Mika Tafua picked up the ball and rumbled almost 70 yards for a defensive score. Terrell Burgess picked up a fumble after DTR dropped the ball while pulling his arm back to throw the ball. Josh Nurse also scooped up the ball after it was knocked free within the 10 yard line snuffing out a UCLA scoring opportunity. The Bruins were running the ball on the Utes early in the game, but Morgan Scalley decided to bring the heat and sent the house multiple times to make DTR beat them with his arm, which he couldn’t do. Bradlee Anae was also a monster tonight, as he pulled down two more sacks, and inches closer to the program record. The capper for the defense, however, would have to be the play by Pita Tonga. The big defensive lineman tipped a DTR pass up in the air at the line of scrimmage, and had the dexterity to track the ball in the air, pull it down and rumble for eight yards.
As for the offense, well, they only put up 536 total yards with 335 coming from the arm of Tyler Huntley, and Zack Moss going for 127 yards on just 17 carries. Outside of a couple stalled drives in the third quarter, the Utes were slicing up UCLA all night long. The Utes scored to open both half, although they were polar opposite drives. In the first drive, the Utes went 75 yards in 12 plays, and capped the drive with a Tyler Huntley TD run, where he pump faked a UCLA defender out of his cleats. The drive to open the second half was a three play drive for 75 yards, with the big play bing Huntley to Brant Kuithe for a 69 yard touchdown, where Kuithe spun out of a tackle and took it to the house. It was a career night for Kuithe, who had 132 yards on five catches. The drive before that, right before the half 85 yard in four plays, in just 46 seconds. On 3rd and short, Huntley found Moss for a beautiful dump off and Moss broke a tackle and was gone for 50 yards. The very next play, after a couple false starts, Moss took a 1st and 20 and turned it into a 38 yard TD run to put the game out of reach. And not to be outdone, in the 4th quarter after a UCLA fumble at the five yard line, Tyler Huntley hit Samson Nacua for an 83 yard touchdown pass to cap the 95 yard drive.
It was a game of haymakers by the Utes, and by the time the second half came around, the Bruins were punch drunk. Considering that UCLA was on a bit of roll, winning three straight, and being in control of their Pac-12 destiny, like Utah, it was impressive to see the Utes punch UCLA in the mouth and just pile on as the game went along.
Now the Utes will travel to Tucson to take on Arizona, who is coming off of a loss to Oregon on Saturday night in Eugene.