Utah Utes football: Washington Huskies bite Utes, destroy hopes of winning season
JOHN LOK, AP
SEATTLE — Utah’s run of consecutive winning regular seasons has ended at nine. Saturday’s 34-15 loss to Washington at CenturyLink Field assures the Utes of a finish no better than 6-6, marking the first time since 2002 that the left-side of the ledger won’t be bigger than the right.
The program’s streak of nine straight bowl appearances is also in jeopardy. Utah needs season-ending victories over Arizona and Colorado just to become bowl eligible.
Simply put, these are far from the best of times for the Utes (4-6, 2-5).
"Our throw game was abysmal, dropped too many balls. Defensively, we've got to get more takeaways," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "In this day and age of football, you've got to create more than one takeaway in the football game. We didn't do that."
The Huskies (6-4, 4-3), meanwhile, celebrated their own bowl eligibility. They did so in a dominant fashion statistically.
"This is a really cool win for our team because we executed in all three phases," said Washington coach Steve Sarkisian.
Quarterback Keith Price led the offense by completing 24-of-33 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score. Running back Bishop Sankey had 162 yards on 36 carries, including two touchdown runs.
Washington’s defense also did a number on Utah. The Huskies held the Utes to 188 yards and nine first downs. They were stopped on third down 12 times and fourth down twice.
Quarterback Travis Wilson had a difficult outing. The true freshman, who was sacked four times, completed just 8-of-23 passes for 55 yards in his fifth career start. Luke Matthews had four of the catches and was the only receiver to make more than one catch.
Washington became the first team in two years to defeat Utah when running back John White surpassed 100 yards. The Utes were 11-0 when White reached the milestone. They’re now 11-1 after the senior netted 142 yards.
Two turnovers, including an interception by Wilson, also played a pivotal role in the setback — both led to touchdown drives by the Huskies.
Utah is now 0-5 on the road for the first time since 1983. The Utes’ last chance to win a game away from Rice-Eccles Stadium this season is Nov. 23 at Colorado.
Washington led 14-8 at halftime. The Huskies overcame an early deficit and wound up with sizeable advantages in total offense (219-119), time of possession (18:27-11:33) and first downs (11-5) at the break. They converted on 4-of-8 third down situations, while holding Utah to just 1-of-7 success.
The Utes’ lone conversion came on a scoring drive in the first quarter — a series that ended with a 46-yard touchdown run by White. Jake Murphy added two points on a direct snap to make it 8-0.
After an exchange of punts, the Huskies fired back with the first of two scores in the second quarter. An 8-yard touchdown pass from Keith Price to Kasen Williams, along with the PAT by Travis Coons, cut Utah’s lead to one with 11:28 left to play in the half.
Washington pulled ahead just over nine minutes later, cashing in on a turnover by the Utes. Linebacker John Timu intercepted a pass by Wilson at the edge of the red zone to set up a six-play, 67-yard march by the Huskies. Price capped things off with a 4-yard run to the end zone.
Utah’s situation became even more gloomy on the opening drive of the third quarter. The Utes suffered a loss on downs when White was stopped short on fourth-and-1 from Utah's own 43-yard line. Washington responded with another touchdown drive — ending with a 9-yard scoring strike from Price to DiAndre Campbell — to increase its lead to 21-8.
Although Utah retaliated with a 20-yard touchdown run by White on the ensuing possession, the Utes ran into misfortune the next time they touched the ball.
Charles Henderson muffed a punt return and Jamaal Kearse recovered it for Washington near midfield. Less than two minutes passed before the Huskies took advantage of the takeway. A 2-yard touchdown plunge by Bishop Sankey made it 27-15 late in the third quarter.
It stayed that way until Sankey added a 4-yard TD run with 3:58 remaining. Coons followed with the PAT to cap all scoring in the contest.
Utah remains winless in eight tries against Washington. The Huskies remain the only team in the Pac-12 that the Utes have never beaten.
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