Utah Utes football: Utes loses to USC 23-14 in first Pac-12 game
"Fortunately we closed it out," he said.
Utah faces another big road challenge. The Utes visit rival BYU at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday.
"We've got to get ready for next week. The season goes on," Whittingham said. "It's a challenge every single week. So we've got to regroup quickly and make sure we have a great week of preparation for our next game.
Things started off well for the Utes. They won the initial pregame coin toss in Pac-12 history. Several other firsts followed — some good, some bad.
Karl Williams made the first tackle, the Utah defense forced the first loss on downs and cornerback Ryan Lacy registered the first interception.
On the negative side for Utah, USC put the first points on the board and recovered the first fumble. The combination led to an early 10-0 advantage for the Trojans.
USC kicker Andre Heidari got things started with a 47-yard field goal to cap a 13-play scoring drive with 4:41 to go in the opening quarter.
Less than a minute later, free safety T.J. McDonald recovered a fumble by White on the Utah 20 to set up the first touchdown in a Pac-12 game. The historic score came on a 6-yard run by Marc Tyler, four plays into the drive. Heidari added the PAT to give USC a double-digit lead.
It stayed that way until late in the half.
That when the Utes capitalized on a fumble recovery by Boo Andersen and marched 84 yards on 12 plays for a touchdown. A 30-yard completion from Wynn to Christopher opened a drive that culminated with a 10-yard scoring strike between the duo. Coleman Petersen followed with the extra point to make it 10-7 with just 34 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
USC led most statistical categories at the break. The Trojans had more yards (239-152), first downs (13-10) and a time-of-possession edge of more than 4½ minutes.
All of the margins grew in the second half. However, the only one that mattered — the score — stayed the same, despite the dramatic finish.
"It was a tough loss, obviously. I'm extremely proud of the way our guys hung in there and fought and battled every step of the way," Whittingham said. "Just no quit in those guys whatsoever, a tough group of guys. We did have our chances."
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