Utes struggle for consistency in road loss to Oregon

Photo courtesy Utah Athletics

EUGENE, Ore. – The University of Utah football program fell to the Oregon Ducks Saturday night, 41-20. The Utes are now 4-4 overall and 1-4 in Pac-12 play.

utesThe Utes trailed by two touchdowns late in the second quarter, but after a Matt Gay field goal to end the half and a tipped pass touchdown by Darrin Paulo to start the third, Utah was just four points behind. It was tough going in the second half though as the Utah defense struggled to stop the Oregon offense as they scored 17 unanswered points, eventually sealing the win.

Sophomore Tyler Huntley finished the game 25-of-43 for 293 yards (0 INT, 2 TD). He also added 46 rushing yards on 16 attempts with Zack Moss leading the Utes on the ground with 53 yards on 10 carries.

Darren Carrington II had 130 receiving yards on nine catches, averaging 14.4 yards per catch with Raelon Singleton also racking up 59 yards on five catches. Siaosi Wilson scored Utah’s other receiving touchdown, finishing with two catches for 40 yards.

Photo courtesy Utah Athletics

Chase Hansen led the Utes with a season-high 11 tackles with Marquise Blair adding a career-high 10 tackles, including two for loss of yards. Kavika Luafatasaga added eight while Kylie Fitts finished with a career-best eight stops that included a sack.

On special teams, Gay was 2-for-3 on field goals (23, 34) with Mitch Wishnowsky getting off three punts for 112 yards (37.3 avg.), landing all three inside the 20. Rounding out Utah’s special teams performance was Demari Simpkins who recorded a career-high 72 kick return yards on just three returns.

Oregon wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, making it 7-0 with 9:55 on the clock in the first quarter. Braxton Burmeister connected with Cam McCormick for a five-yard touchdown, putting an end to an 11-play, 75-yard drive that took just over five minutes off the clock.

The Utes scored its first field goal of the second quarter after Leki Fotu came away with a key fumble recovery on a 3rd-and-6, putting the ball in Utah’s hands on the Oregon 21-yard line. Gay was able to convert on a 23-yarder with 14:50 left on the clock, ending a five-play, 16-yard drive.

Photo courtesy Utah Athletics

Oregon answered with a field goal of their own, making it a seven-point game at the 8:40 mark in the second quarter. The 23-yard field goal was a part of a 12-play, 68-yard drive that took 6:10 off the clock.

It was a Utah turnover that gave Oregon a 17-3 lead with 5:54 remaining in the quarter after the Ducks scooped up a fumble on the Utah 47-yard-line, running it back 47 yards to the end zone.

Gay knocked in his second field goal of the second quarter at the 3:42 mark, scoring a 34-yarder to make him 13-for-14 from inside the 40 this season. The scoring drive was comprised of seven plays for 59 yards, thanks in large part to a 46-yard catch from Carrington to the Oregon 29-yard-line to make it 17-6 to end the half.

The Utes put the Ducks on their heels to start the third quarter, quickly cutting the score to four points with 11:35 on the clock. Utah went for it on a 4th-and-goal with Huntley’s pass getting deflected by an Oregon defensive lineman, landing safely in Paulo’s hands as he fell into the end zone for his first career touchdown, making it 17-13.

Utah held Oregon to just a field goal on their next offensive drive as the Ducks converted on a 38-yarder to give them a 20-13 advantage. It was then Utah’s turn to march down field, but a missed 43-yard field goal with 5:49 left to play in the third gave Oregon the ball back, allowing them to score a 22-yard receiving touchdown to make it a two-possession game again.

Oregon punched in a 23-yard rushing touchdown to start the fourth quarter, but Huntley and the Utah offense had a quick answer with Huntley linking up with Wilson for a 29-yard score, making it 34-20 with less than 10 minutes to play in the game.

Utah was able to stop the Oregon offense on the next drive with Hansen putting heavy pressure on the quarterback to force the punt. Unfortunately, Utah was unable to produce on its next offensive drives, giving the ball back to the Ducks with 2:58 on the clock.

The Ducks were able to tack on one last touchdown on a 21-yard rush, giving them the 41-20 lead and the eventual victory.

Utah returns to action when they host UCLA on Friday, Nov. 3 in Rice-Eccles Stadium. The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. kick for Utah’s Black Out.

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