PITTSBURGH — East met West on the ground at Heinz Field Saturday.
The highly anticipated clash between Pittsburgh running back Ray Graham, who entered the game as the nation's rush yardage leader, and Utah's run defense turned out to be quite lopsided — in favor of the red helmets.
The Utes prevailed 26-14 while limiting the Panthers to just 70 yards rushing. Graham managed only 46 on 12 carries.
"They dominated us defensively and took Ray away," said Pitt coach Todd Graham. "They were dominating the line of scrimmage up front."
Obviously, he added, they would have liked to get their star more touches.
Ray Graham's lowest rushing total of the season marked just the second time this year he failed to run for 100 or more yards.
"They were keying, had a spy everywhere I went," Graham said. "Everywhere I went someone was there."
That was the plan.
"Our defense and front seven were getting after him pretty good," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "We have some big guys in there and some physicality in the front seven, plus we loaded the box."
The Utes, he continued, also made a concerted effort to "gang tackle" Graham.
"Utah did a good job. They had a good game plan," Graham said. "They came in and executed very well."
Contributions were plentiful on defense. Pitt was forced to punt nine times. The Panthers weren't very effective throwing the ball either. They completed just nine passes and were picked off twice.
Derrick Shelby and Conroy Black had the interceptions for Utah. Shelby finished with a team-high seven tackles and joined Mo Lee with two pass breakups. Nai Fotu had a fumble recovery.
Six Utes contributed to the eight tackles-for-loss and six sack the Utes recorded.
"I can't say enough about how our defense played," Whittingham said.
Email: email@example.com Twitter: @DIrkFacer
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company