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Utah Utes football: Utes close 'up and down' season on a good note

Published: Saturday, Nov. 24 2012 9:08 p.m. MST

Utah kick returner Reggie Dunn (14) heads down the field for a touchdown against Colorado in the fourth quarter of Utah's 42-35 victory in an NCAA football game in Boulder, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. Dunn extended his NCAA record with his fifth career 100-yard kickoff return, and his fourth this season. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Associated Press

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BOULDER, Colo. — Utah running back John White certainly looked the part after the Utes’ 42-35 victory over Colorado. The senior wore a smile, a sling over his arm and mixed emotions following the thrilling season-ending victory at Folsom Field.

Back-to-back 100-yard kickoff returns capped all scoring in the contest, the last by Utah’s Reggie Dunn with 8:12 remaining.

“It’s a real good memory to have,” White said of the win. “But you’re still going to have that bad taste in your mouth because we didn’t get to a bowl game — but at least we can go out on a good note.”

White made history in the game, rushing for 168 yards to become the first Utah player to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He followed last year’s record-setting 1,519-yard performance (the best single-season mark in Utah history) with 1,041-yards this season. White also broke something else — his arm. He was actually getting it X-rayed when Dunn scored the game-winning touchdown.

White, however, was obviously pleased to hear about it.

“He’s a beast. He’s record holder,” White said. “If you kick it to him, you’re going to pay for it.”

And how. The 100-yard kickoff return was Dunn’s fourth of the season and fifth of his career.

Dunn called his latest success “unbelievable” and a “great way to go out.” He was carried off the field by his teammates and past a group of adoring fans on his way to the locker room.

Sophomore safety Eric Rowe acknowledged that it was a wild finish to the season.

“I don’t know why they kicked it to Reggie, but they must have felt confident,” he said. “But I’m glad they did.”

Trailing 28-20, Utah outscored Colorado in a span of 2:38 in the fourth quarter. The outburst allowed the Utes to snap a two-game skid and finish the season with a 5-7 record. Their slim hopes of earning a bowl invitation — through an NCAA rules procedure if enough teams didn’t qualify — evaporated with results of games on Saturday.

Utah’s run of nine consecutive bowl appearances, thus, comes to an end with the program’s first losing record since 2002.

The Utes, though, did have a silver lining in the season finale.

Although Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged there was some good and some bad in the game, he expressed happiness that the seniors were able to finish their careers with a victory.

The Utes may have picked up something else as well.

“I guess you could say maybe this has turned into a rivalry,” junior defensive end Trevor Reilly said while noting the close games between Utah and Colorado the past two seasons.

Prior to joining the Pac-12 last season, the former long-time rivals had not met since 1962.

EXTRA POINTS: Defensive end Nate Fakahafua and linebacker V.J. Fehoko shared team-high honors with seven tackles apiece. Four of Fakahafua’s stops were behind the line of scrimmage. … Wide receiver Kenneth Scott led the Utes with four catches for 36 yards. … Tight end Jake Murphy suffered an MCL injury in the game.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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