Utah Football Rallies From Behind For 45-28 Win Over Washington State
SALT LAKE CITY – It was a tale of two halves for the University of Utah Football team as they came from 21 points behind to score 38 unanswered in the second half for a 45-28 victory over Washington State to end the 2020 season.
Turnovers continued to plague the Utes with three in the first half, allowing Washington State to score 14 points off the mistakes. The Cougars got on the board first after a Utah fumble, scoring on an eight-yard rushing touchdown with 4:34 left in the first quarter to make it 7-0.
They followed it up by extending their lead with an 11-yard rushing touchdown with 8:31 to go in the half, holding the Utes scoreless until the 3:31 mark in the second quarter. Jake Bentley found Britain Covey open for a 91-yard receiving touchdown to cut the WSU lead to 14-7, ranking as the second-longest passing play in school history.
Unfortunately for the Utes, Washington State would waste no time in answering, scoring on an eight-yard passing play at the 1:51 mark in the second quarter. It was on the next drive that Utah would commit its third costly turnover of the half, throwing an interception with 1:21 on the clock that would be returned for a touchdown and give the Cougars a 28-7 lead heading into halftime.
— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) December 20, 2020
There was a switch in quarterbacks for the Utes to start the second half as senior Drew Lisk took control of the offense. The Utes would go on to score on its second drive of the third quarter with Ty Jordan punching in his fourth rushing touchdown of the year, a five-yarder with 6:09 on the clock to cut the Washington State lead to 28-14.
The Utes continued to push forward, holding Washington State scoreless in the third while making it a one possession game with 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Utah's 68-yard scoring drive consisted of 44 rushing yards, which included Bryan Thompson's first-career rushing attempt that resulted in a nine-yard rushing touchdown to make it 28-21.
Jordan would score his second touchdown of the game to start the fourth quarter, tying the game 28-28 with 12:01 on the clock. The 70-yard scoring drive included big plays from multiple players, including a huge catch on the sideline from Brant Kuithe on the Washington State 33-yard line, followed by Jordan's 33-yard rushing touchdown on a fourth-and-one to tie the game.
Jordan would make it three for the lead with 6:29 remaining in the game, scoring his third touchdown of the game on a 13-yard rush to give Utah a 35-28 advantage. Utah's fifth touchdown of the game was set up by a key play on defense with Vonte Davis forcing a fumble on the WSU 20-yard line with Clark Phillips III recovering it to the WSU 13-yard line.
It would be Utah's defense that would seal the deal in the final few minutes of the game forcing four turnovers on Washington State's final four drives of the game. The turnovers included forced fumbles by Vonte Davis, Nephi Sewell and Mika Tafua and a pick-six from Phillips with Jadon Redding also knocking in a career-long 44-yard field goal in the final minutes of the game with the Utes walking away with the 45-28 win.
GAME BALL: @drewlisker.
SO well-deserved. pic.twitter.com/ZUtkWWS8Dv
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) December 19, 2020
Lisk finished the game 15-of-26 passing for 152 yards, including a career-long toss of 27 yards in the fourth quarter. Covey would finish the game with a career-high 134 receiving yards on six receptions, scoring a touchdown for the third straight game.
On the ground, the Utes were led by Jordan who racked up 154 rushing yards on 22 carries with two catches for 33 yards, scoring three touchdowns. Brant Kuithe also put together a strong all-purpose performance with six catches for 61 yards and three rushes for 33 yards (94 all-purpose).
On defense, Devin Lloyd produced a game-high 10 tackles which included a sack and a career-high four tackles for loss. Davis contributed five tackles (1.0 sack), a forced fumble and a pass breakup while Sewell added five tackles (3.0 TFL), a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
TALKING ABOUT THE GAME: HEAD COACH KYLE WHITTINGHAM
"So proud of these guys for turning it around after the way we started by not playing the first two games. It really looked like we took a step forward each game. We played two division champions the first two weeks we played in USC and Washington. We couldn't hang on against Washington. But even in the first half today, you could see progress."
The Utes reached a couple of program milestones with today's game, including winning the 100th game in Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah is now 100-36 all-time in RES (1998-present).
Whittingham also coached in his 200th career game as Utah's head coach today. Whittingham is the third-most tenured head coach among active head coaches nationally, holding an overall record of 134-66.
- Ty Jordan has rushed for over 100 yards in three straight games. The last time a freshman rushed for three-straight 100-yard games was in 1995 (Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala).
- Jake Bentley's 91-yard passing touchdown ranks as the second-longest passing play in school history (tied for fourth-longest play overall from the line of scrimmage).
- Devin Lloyd's four tackles for loss was the most by a Ute since 2016 (Pita Taumoepenu vs. Arizona State).
- Utah's 21-point deficit overcome in the second half was the third-largest in school history. Utah twice overcame 27-point deficits in 1972 and 1990.
- Utah's comeback included five touchdowns and one field goal over a span of seven possessions.
Utah is just the fifth Pac-12 team since 2014 to come back from a halftime deficit of 21 or more points and win a game.
— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) December 20, 2020
Earn three wins in a row and you get to sing the fight song to your families....what a great day to be a Ute! pic.twitter.com/8tsqi6jjsR
— Mark Harlan (@MarkHarlan_AD) December 19, 2020