Utah Claims Comeback Win Over #18 Arizona State, 35-21
SALT LAKE CITY – Under the bright lights of Rice-Eccles Stadium and in front of a record 51,724 rowdy fans, the University of Utah Football team rallied from 14 points behind to beat the No. 18 Arizona State Sun Devils, 35-21. The Utes scored 28 unanswered points in the second half, improving to 4-2 overall and 3-0 in Pac-12 play.
It was a tale of two halves for the Utes after only producing 170 yards of total offense in the first half with two turnovers while giving up 288 yards and three touchdowns on defense. A energized Utah team emerged from the locker room in the second half, more than doubling its first half production.
Utah finished the game with 455 yards of total offense while holding the Sun Devils to just 97 yards in the final two quarters. The Utah defense went on to hold Arizona State to just five rushing yards in the third quarter and 12 in the fourth with the Sun Devils averaging only 2.2 yards per play in the final quarter.
Arizona State got on the board first, scoring on a seven-yard passing play with 9:50 on the clock in the first quarter that ended a 12-play, 75-yard drive that burned up 5:10 off the clock. It was ASU's first drive of the game, making it 7-0 while marking the first time this season the Utes have given up a touchdown on the opening drive.
The Utes made quick work of their first drive of the game to answer the Sun Devils, putting together a 75-yard scoring drive of their own. The drive included a pivotal 12-yard rush from quarterback Cameron Rising on a third-and-10, a 23-yard reception from Devaughn Vele and a 20-yard grab from Dalton Kincaid as Rising finished things off on a nine-yard rushing touchdown to tie it up 7-7 with 4:29 on the clock.
The Utah offense fell stagnant in the second quarter with Arizona State taking advantage on a 14-point swing. The Sun Devils struck with 8:08 on the clock on a two-yard rushing touchdown, also recording a 15-yard passing score with 52 seconds remaining in the second quarter to make it 21-7 heading into halftime.
While Arizona State may have had the upper hand in the second quarter, the Utes took it back in the third, recording a 14-point swing of their own to tie the game 21-21 with 6:20 to go. Utah got started with a 75-yard drive to start the quarter, ending it with Tavion Thomas scoring his fourth rushing touchdown of the season on a seven-yard rush with a huge block from Dalton Kincaid to make it a seven-point game.
After a quick three-and-out by the Sun Devils, Utah got the ball back on its own 32-yard line with 9:15 on the clock. Big rushes were the name of the game on the 68-yard scoring drive with Thomas and Britain Covey rushing for 16 and 20 yards on the first two plays, ending the drive with a 20-yard reception from Brant Kuithe under triple coverage for the touchdown.
SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS TEAM
Let 'em hear it! #UtahMan pic.twitter.com/Oj3wiZoxWa
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) October 17, 2021
The Utes continued their scoring streak into the fourth quarter, making it 21 unanswered points with 11:49 left in the game. It would be Kuithe again as he was left wide open near the sideline, bringing the ball into the end zone for a seven-yard reception to give Utah a 28-21 advantage, ending a 67-yard scoring drive.
Arizona State would take the field to complete five plays before punting with Utah regaining possession with 9:37 to go on its own 18-yard line. The Utes would go on to put together a season-long tying drive of 82 yards that included an incredible one-handed catch from Vele and a 23-yard rush into the red zone by TJ Pledger with Pledger finishing the drive on a seven-yard rushing touchdown to give the Utes their final score of the game.
The Sun Devils would have the ball with 2:30 on the clock, finding their way to the Utah 45-yard line, but back-to-back sacks for a combined loss of 18 yards by Devin Lloyd would end the game and give the Utes the comeback 35-21 victory.
UTES WITH THE UPSET. ??
No. 18 ASU goes down at the hands of @Utah_Football.#GoUtes | @PacPremierBank pic.twitter.com/AJBPni1DPE
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) October 17, 2021
Rising led the charge in the second half after only having 107 yards passing (8-18-2) in the first, turning it around with 140 passing yards on 13-of-15 (.867) and two touchdowns. He finished the game 21-of-33 (2 TD, 2 INT) for 247 yards, adding a career-high 59 rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground.
Similar to Rising, most of Thomas's production came in the second half after only rushing for 19 yards in the first. He finished the game with 84 yards on a season-high 20 carries that included 65 yards and a touchdown in the second half for his second straight game with a score.
The Utes had six different players catch at least three passes with Vele leading the team for the second straight game in receiving yards (57 yds, 3 rec.). Kuithe recorded both of Utah's two receiving touchdowns in the second half, his third career game with multiple touchdowns, racking up three receptions for 36 yards in the game.
Utah had two players record eight tackles each with Faybian Marks notching a career-high with one pass breakup while Lloyd's stat line included a career-best tying four tackles for loss (2.0 sacks). Vonte Davis added a career-high tying seven stops along with his second career forced fumble.
The last time the Utes beat a ranked opponent in Rice-Eccles Stadium was also against Arizona State, dominating the Sun Devils 21-3 in 2019 when they ranked No. 17 and the Utes were No. 13 in the AP Poll.
The last time the Utes eliminated a two-score deficit to defeat an AP-ranked opponent was in 2008 when Utah trailed 10-0 against No. 11 TCU, rallying to win by a 13-10 score.
The Utes are back in action on Saturday, Oct. 23 when they take on the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis, Ore. The game is set for a 5:30 p.m. MT kick on Pac-12 Networks.