Dominant Ground Game Paces Utah to 52-7 Triumph at Stanford
STANFORD, Calif. – The University of Utah Football team outgained the Stanford Cardinal 581 to 167 on Friday night in dominating fashion, winning 52-7 on the road. The Utes improved to 6-3 overall and 5-1 in Pac-12 play.
Utah's 45-point win over the Cardinal ties for the largest margin of victory over a Pac-12 opponent on the road and ties for the second-largest margin of victory in a Pac-12 game overall.
Out of Utah's 581 total yards on offense, the Utes produced 440 in the first half while holding Stanford to just 28 yards through the first two quarters. The Utah defense was smothering against the Cardinal, holding the Cardinal to 167 yards, the least amount of offensive yards by a Utah opponent since the Utes held California to 83 yards in 2019.
The Utes 581 yards of total offense is the most by Utah since 2018 when it recorded 587 against Weber State. It was also the most rushing yards in a game (441) since the Utes racked up 478 against New Mexico in 1991.
Utah's six rushing touchdowns scored against the Cardinal is the most by the Utes since they put up six against Weber State in 2013, which ties for the second most by the Utes in program history.
The streak continued to four games in a row that the Utes have scored on their opening drive with Tavion Thomas finding the end zone on a 10-yard rushing touchdown to make it 7-0 with 10:57 on the clock. The Utes had to convert two third downs on the 65-yard drive with Cameron Rising linking up with Solomon Enis for an 18-yard gain and Thomas getting a gritty three yards on a third-and-one on the Stanford 24-yard line before scoring just two plays later.
After the Utah defense forced a three-and-out, the Utes made quick work of their next drive, scoring in six plays and 68 yards at the hands of Thomas for his second touchdown of the game. The drive, which included 54 yards on the ground and a big 19-yard rush from Britain Covey on a second-and-one, was finished off with a five-yard rushing score by Thomas to give the Utes a 14-0 lead with 6:15 to go in the first quarter.
The Thomas train continued into the second quarter with the sophomore scoring on a 58-yard rushing touchdown, a career long rush for the sophomore to put the Utes up 21-0 with 14:31 on the clock. The drive only lasted 12 seconds after a 16-yard punt return by Covey put the Utes in solid field position with Thomas scoring on the first play of the drive.
Thomas made it four 6:37 to play in the second quarter, scoring on an 11-yard rush on the backend of a 90-yard drive, Utah's longest drive of the season. Micah Bernard accounted for 47 yards of the drive, which included a career long 28-yard reception on a third-and-eight, with Thomas scoring his fourth touchdown of the game four plays later for a 28-0 Utah advantage.
With 3:26 left to play in the second quarter, T.J. Pledger cemented himself in the Utah record books with just one play, breaking free for a 96-yard rushing touchdown to give Utah 35-0 lead heading into the final few minutes of the half. The 96-yard rushing score was the longest rush from the line of scrimmage in school history, and ranks third all-time in the Pac-12.
After the Utes would force the Cardinal to punt for the sixth time, Utah would take over on their own 37-yard line. Utah would drive to the Stanford 11-yard line with Jadon Redding knocking in a 29-yard field goal as time ran out to make it 38-0 heading into halftime.
Stanford was able to score the first touchdown of the third quarter, getting its first points of the game on a four-yard rushing touchdown, making it 38-7 with 10:14 on the clock.
After being held scoreless in the third quarter, it was Utah's defense that got them on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter with an incredible show of athleticism from Devin Lloyd. Lloyd lined up with Stanford attempting a third-and-nine on their own four-yard line, jumping up just feet away from the Cardinal quarterback to intercept the ball and land in the end zone for a pick-six.
Utah's defense would set up the final touchdown of the game after Miki Suguturaga forced a fumble on the Utes' 32-yard line with Jonah Elliss recovering the ball. It would be an 11-yard rushing touchdown from Bernard that would end a 65-yard drive that gave Utah its 52-7 win on the road.
Utah had three 100-yard rushers in the game against Stanford, led by Thomas who racked up a career high 177 yards and four touchdowns, which ties the school record for single-game touchdowns two weeks in a row. Bernard followed up with 110 yards rushing (12 carries, 1 TD) and two catches for 32 yards while Pledger finished with 107 rushing yards and a touchdown (4 carries).
Rising was 13-of-22 passing for 140 yards, syncing up with seven different players who caught at least one pass each. Covey finished the game with 84 all-purpose yards after leading the Utes in receptions (3) for 23 yards, adding 19 yards rushing and 42 yards on punt returns.
Lloyd was unstoppable on defense, leading the team with nine tackles, including a career high 5.0 TFL (1.0 sack) along with his pick-six. Mika Tafua, Nephi Sewell and Zemaiah Vaughn all recorded five stops each with Tafua adding 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Utah remains on the road next week when they take on the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday, Nov. 13. The game is set for a 12 p.m. MT kick on Pac-12 Networks.