No. 13 Utes get it done against Oregon State – Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Halloween was kind of scary at Rice-Eccles Stadium. There were times, spells if you will, where the action wasn’t all that great in the annual blackout game.
Even so, things weren’t all that dark and dreary for the 13th-ranked Utah Utes. They left the field with a 27-12 victory over Oregon State, improving to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in Pac-12 play.
Getting a win and remaining atop the Pac-12 South, noted Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, was the objective.
“That was the only thing that we were concerned about,” he said.
The Utes head to Seattle next Saturday to face Washington with a one-game lead over UCLA and USC in the division.
Although Whittingham acknowledged his team has some things to work on after knocking off the Beavers (2-6, 0-5), he was pleased with the bottom line.
“We just need to be happy with the win,” Whittingham said. “In the Pac-12, you’re happy with a win any way they come, any week they come.”
Utah prevailed in this one despite getting “bogged down” on offense for the middle quarters. After tallying 178 yards of total offense in the first 15 minutes, the Utes netted just 90 more over the second and third quarters. They bounced back with 104 yards in the fourth to finish with 372.
“Even though we did a lot of good things on offense, we’ve got to be more consistent throughout the game,” Whittingham said.
Travis Wilson and Devontae Booker headlined the positive. Wilson, who made his school-record 34th career start at quarterback, completed 14-of-17 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown. Booker rushed for a game-high 121 yards and a score.
The duo helped Utah, which opened with 12 consecutive run plays, get off to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. A 1-yard TD run from Booker was followed less than 4½ minutes later by a 39-yard scoring strike from Wilson to tight end Harrison Handley.
Oregon State was held scoreless until Garrett Owens made a pair of field goals — from 23 and 31 yards out — in the second quarter.
Utah’s 14-6 halftime lead held firm until the fourth quarter. The Utes netted some breathing room on a 49-yard field goal by Andy Phillips and a 2-yard touchdown run by Wilson.
Leading 24-6 after Phillips added his third PAT, Utah countered a 2-yard touchdown throw from Oregon State’s Nick Mitchell to Victor Bolden midway through the quarter with a 45-yard field goal by Phillips.
Whittingham praised Phillips’ performance and also that of punter Tom Hackett, who averaged 54 yards on three punts. Utah’s defense received accolades as well.
“Very nice job keeping points off the board,” Whittingham said. “You’re not going to lose many games giving up 12 points.”
The coach, though, wasn’t happy that the Utes have now gone two full games without a takeaway. He also noted they had only one sack and not many impact plays.
Utah did finish with eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage and broke up seven passes. Linebacker Jared Norris and safety Tevin Carter shared team-high honors with nine tackles apiece.
Norris said the defense started out pretty well, made adjustments at halftime and executed.
“I felt like we were in control,” Carter said. “It was kind of close, we let them hang around, we gave them some big plays that we shouldn’t have given up, but I didn’t feel too much pressure.”
As such, the Utes insist the game never got all that scary.