SALT LAKE CITY — Utah, in search of its second longest win streak in franchise history, came out sloppy, lackadaisical and continued to struggle with mental miscues in a head scratching 72-57 loss to previously winless New Orleans.
"We did it to ourselves," said Blaze coach Ron James. "(Seven) turnovers tonight? I just told the team, 'you won't win in any league, including Pop Warner, if you turn the ball over (seven) times."
"We're angry, especially me," added Utah's Mike Lewis. "It was ugly at the end of the game; we flat out quit."
A premonition of how the night was about to unfold for Utah occurred on the opening drive. With the ball deep into New Orleans territory, quarterback Tommy Grady inexplicably threw into double coverage for his first of four interceptions.
The Blaze finished with five interceptions and two lost fumbles.
However, Utah jumped out to a 14-7 first quarter lead after stopping the VooDoo on downs. It wouldn't be until the 12:58 mark in the second quarter that New Orleans tasted its first lead.
After a Utah turnover, New Orleans' quarterback Kurt Rocco found Greg Ellingson, who was left completely uncovered on a blown coverage, for a 40-yard touchdown to give the VooDoo the 20-14 advantage.
That combination proved deadly; Rocco finished 23-of-40 in the sky for 373 yards and nine touchdowns while Ellingson torched Utah for a game-high in receptions (11), yards (167) and touchdowns (four).
Despite being out-gained by nearly 100 yards and three turnovers from Grady (two interceptions and one fumble) the Blaze managed to only trail, 34-28, heading into the locker room.
An area of concern throughout the first three games for Utah has been penalties, especially at inopportune moments. The trend continued Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena.Comment on this story
On the opening play of the second half, Utah's Al Phillips was whistled for a personal foul which transitioned into an all-out, haymaker brawl that eventually separated with surprisingly no ejections assessed. On the ensuing play, Phillips was caught out of position to give the VooDoo the 40-28 lead.
Utah resiliently battled back. Subsequent to an Ernie Pierce touchdown, Lewis yanked Rocco to the turf for a safety. The following drive the Blaze recaptured the lead, 44-40, on an Aaron Lesue touchdown.
However, following a VooDoo score, Utah coughed up the leather once again, allowing New Orleans to extend the lead to two possessions with 1:59 in third, which ultimately proved too much to overcome.