Utah Utes football: Arizona State burns Utah in Pac-12 opener
Tom Smart, Deseret News
TEMPE, Ariz. — It didn't take long for the Utah Utes to get roasted and toasted Saturday night at Arizona State. The Sun Devils wasted little time adding to the heat of an already sticky night in the desert, where it was 99 degrees at kickoff.
ASU scored early and often en route to a 37-7 victory over Utah in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
"We got whipped tonight, soundly. They're a better football team than we are," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "We got outcoached. We got outplayed. They had control of the game from start to finish. We really didn't do much in the way of positives."
The Sun Devils (3-1, 1-0) scored three touchdowns in the first 11:07 to put the Utes (2-2, 0-1) in what proved to be an insurmountable hole. Things grew worse in the second quarter as ASU extended its lead to 31-7 by halftime.
"We couldn't stop the outside run or the outside passes," said defensive tackle Dave Kruger. "That was the bottom line."
The numbers told the tale after two quarters. The Sun Devils had more total offensive yardage (347-152), first downs (15-7), third-down conversions (6-3) and sacks (3-1). They also had the game's lone takeaway — a fumble recovery in the midst of the decisive stretch.
Adding to Utah's trouble was ineffectiveness by running back John White. The senior, who missed last week's win over BYU with an ankle injury, had just 14 yards on 10 carries in the first half. White finished with 18 yards rushing.
All in all, not the way Utah could afford to kick off its second season of membership in the Pac-12.
"Extremely disappointing," said quarterback Jon Hays. "We've got to come back, watch film and rededicate ourselves this season."
After forcing the Utes to punt on the opening possession, the Sun Devils marched 64 yards on four plays for the game's first score. A 38-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Kelly to Rashad Ross was followed by a PAT from Alex Garoutte to make it 7-0.
The lead swelled to 14-0 less than four minutes later when ASU running back Cameron Marshall added a 1-yard TD run.
Trailing 14-0, the Utes' next series ended with a turnover. ASU linebacker Brandon Magee forced White to fumble and defensive lineman Carl Bradford recovered it on the Utah 34.
Just over two minutes later, Kelly teamed with Marion Grice on a 10-yard scoring strike as the deficit grew for the Utes.
Utah responded this time around, however. The Utes matched their longest yardage drive of the year by going 91 yards over 11 plays for a touchdown of their own. Hays capped off it with a 2-yard toss to Karl Williams early in the second quarter.
It failed to ignite a momentum shift, though.
ASU continued its offensive success by adding a 22-yard field goal by Garoutte and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Kelly to Marshall before the half was complete. The Sun Devils scored on their first five possessions, falling short on a sixth when Garoutte was wide right on a 51-yard kick late in the half.
The sophomore fared better on a 22-yard attempt with 5:19 to go in the third quarter. It grew ASU's lead to 34-7 and followed an interception of Hays by free safety Keelan Johnson.
Utah's ensuing drive also ended with a miscue when a fumble by White was recovered by Magee on the ASU 42. The Utes challenged the play, but were denied a reversal following a review by officials — costing them a timeout and adding a little insult to injury.
In the end, however, it may have helped let the clock expire more quickly.
The early part of the fourth quarter featured a missed 40-yard field goal by the Sun Devils and the Utes' fifth punt of the game. Shortly thereafter, a mass exodus of fans to the parking lot ensued.
About the only thing they missed was a 43-yard field goal by Garoutte with 6:23 left to play. It capped all scoring in the lopsided contest.
ASU defeated Utah handily last year as well, prevailing 35-14 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Sun Devils return to action Saturday at California, while the Utes have a bye before hosting USC on Thursday, Oct. 4.
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