Halftime report: Utah Utes start slow, pick up steam against N. Colorado
Laura Seitz, Deseret News
It was not the dominating performance Utah football fans hoped for, but at least the Utes led Northern Colorado at halftime of the season's first game.
The game did not get off to a promising start as junior quarterback Jordan Wynn threw an interception in the first series. But the Utah defense showed its effectiveness in preventing the Bears from scoring after the only turnover of the first half. The Utah defense earned three sacks in the first half while Wynn bounced back to have a respectable performance. He went 13-for-19 with a touchdown and the interception. He passed for 149 yards.
Freshman quarterback Travis Wilson made his first plays (2) as a Ute and earned his first career touchdown, the second score for Utah. The Utes third score came with just 34 seconds left in the half when, on fourth down, Wynn handed off to John White, who easily found the end zone to give Utah a 21-0 lead heading into the locker room.
The first quarter was marked by futility for both teams although Utah was able to get into scoring position just before the quarter break. As the second quarter started, the Utes had 34 yards to cover in order to score, and did so when Wynn connected with tight end Jake Murphy for the team's first touchdown. That score completed a drive of 12 plays, 74 yards and nearly six minutes.
The second score was set up by Sean Sellwood's 60-yard punt, which pinned Northern Colorado on the three-yard line at 7:03 of the second quarter. Three plays gained the Bears only five yards, and their punt gave Utah the ball on their 40-yard line with 4:50 to play.
Wynn went to Murphy on the first play and he broke a tackle to gain 23 yards. White took the ball next and gained five yards for the Utes. On the third play, Wilson came in as quarterback and showed his athletic ability -- and fearlessness -- by hurdling a defender to gain four yards. Wynn returned the next play and the hand off to Jarrell Oliver gained the Utes a first down just three yards from the end zone.
Wilson came back in the game and rushed the three yards for Utah's second touchdown. The second scoring drive was five plays and took the Utes two minutes and 33 seconds.
The final scoring play came when a roughing-the-passer call moved Utah to the Bears' 14-yard line. Wynn connected with tight end Dallin Rogers on third down to put Utah within inches of the first down marker. The next play, Wynn handed the ball to White, who easily found a path to the end zone.
White carried the ball 14 times and gained 59 yards with the touchdown. Murphy was the favorite target of Wynn with four receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown. Dres Anderson had three receptions for 43 yards.
The Utes got a final chance to score with 17 seconds remaining when the Bears' punter put his knee down as he attempted to kick the ball. Utah took over at the 17-yard-line but couldn't capitalize on the opportunity. Coleman Petersen's 27-yard field goal attempt bounced off the goal post.
The Bears quarterback Seth Lobato went 7-for-15 but gained just 39 yards passing. The Utah defense stymied the Bears' running game allowing just four first downs in two quarters of play.
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