Utah Falls In High Scoring Battle Against The Beavers, 42-34
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The University of Utah Football program fell in a high scoring game to the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday night in Reser Stadium, 42-34. Utah is 4-3 overall and 3-1 in Pac-12 play.
The Utes produced 455 yards of total offense against the Beavers, but allowed 468 from their opponent that included 260 yards on the ground. Three of Oregon State's five offensive touchdowns came from the run game with Utah unable to slow down the Beaver offense in the second half.
For the second straight game, the Utes were able to get on the scoreboard on their first drive of the game, scoring with 12:02 on the clock in the first quarter to give them the early 7-0 lead. The drive included a trio of running backs making critical plays including pivotal first down rushes from Tavion Thomas and TJ Pledger while Micah Bernard wrapped up the drive with his first career receiving touchdown for 14 yards.
The Utah defense got to work shortly after with Mika Tafua breaking off the edge for a huge sack on third-and-eight, forcing the Beavers to punt with the Utes taking over on the Oregon State 38-yard line. Five plays later, Utah would find the end zone once again with Cameron Rising linking up with Brant Kuithe for a wide open 11-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 with 7:19 to go in the first.
Oregon State would make it a one-possession game to end the first quarter, scoring on a 14-yard rushing touchdown, burning 6:27 off the clock for 75 yards and 12 plays. Utah would counter by putting together its longest drive of the season with 17 plays and 7:37 off the clock for a 17-7 lead, ending with a 29-yard field goal by Jordan Noyes, the first field goal attempt of his career.
The Beavers cut the Utah lead to three points with 6:59 to go in the second quarter, scoring on a one-yard rushing touchdown to make it 17-14, but the Utes would get the final points of the half thanks in large part to the Utah defense stepping up once again.
Safety Brandon McKinney chased down the Beaver quarterback from across the field on a first-and-10 to force a fumble with Junior Tafuna grabbing the ball before it could fly out of bounds, giving the Utes possession on the OSU 19-yard line. A huge gain from Rising for 16 yards would put the Utes on the three-yard line with Thomas punching in the three-yard rushing touchdown to put Utah up 24-14.
The Beavers would score 14 unanswered points to start the second half, beginning with an 11-yard passing touchdown with 10:48 on the clock in the third quarter. After the Utes were unable to find the end zone on their next drive and were forced to punt, Oregon State was able to block Utah's punt, recovering it for a 27-yard touchdown to take a 28-24 lead with 7:26 remaining.
The Utes continued to battle, regaining the lead with 5:01 to go in the third quarter on a 75-yard drive to make it 31-28. It was a well-balanced attack with Rising starting things off on a 15-yard rush for a first down and completing a key 29-yard pass to Jaylen Dixon to the OSU two-yard line with Thomas getting his second touchdown of the game on a one-yard rush to finish the drive.
Oregon State would once again score two unanswered touchdowns, beginning with a 10-yard rush on the backend of a 76-yard drive with 2:58 left in the third quarter. They would strike again on their first drive of the fourth, recording an eight-yard rushing touchdown to make it 42-31 with 9:49 remaining in the game.
Utah would drive all the way to the Oregon State two-yard line on its next possession, attempting a pass on fourth down that would go incomplete with the Beavers regaining the ball with 6:22 to go. The Utes would get one more shot with 3:47 left in the game after a failed fourth down attempt by Oregon State, finding their way to the OSU 15 where Noyes would score a 33-yard field goal to cut the Beaver lead to one possession.
Utah would attempt an onside kick, but were unable to recover it with Oregon State running out the remainder of the clock with the Utes falling 42-34.
Rising finished the game 22-of-36 passing (0 INT, 2 TDs) for 267 yards while gaining a career high 73 rushing yards on 10 carries (7.3 ypc). Thomas also had a strong outing with a season high 21 carries for 74 yards and two rushing scores.
Devaughn Vele led the Utes in receiving yards with 69 on three catches (23.0 ypc) while Britain Covey had a team high five catches, bringing in 40 yards.
McKinney came away with a team high eight tackles on defense (2.0 TFL, 1.0 sack), also forcing his first fumble of the season. A quartet of Utes racked up seven tackles each including Devin Lloyd, Nephi Sewell, Clark Phillips III and Karene Reid with Tafua also finishing with six stops (2.0 TFL, 1.0 sack) and a forced fumble.
Since making his season debut at San Diego State, Rising has been perfect through the air (no incompletions) on 12 of 14 scoring drives.
Utah will return to Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 30 when they host the UCLA Bruins. The game is set for an 8 p.m. MT kick on ESPN.