AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. Despite gaining 1,204 yards and scoring 13 touchdowns last year, Darrell Mack has been sort of a forgotten man through the first three Utah games this season.
Even though he's been sharing time with newcomer Matt Asiata, rushing the same number of times for nearly the same amount of yardage, he has been overshadowed a bit by the bulldozing style of Asiata, who had rushed for four touchdowns. Mack hadn't scored in the Utes' first three games.
In Saturday's 30-23 victory, while Asiata rushed more times (19) for more yards (116), Mack (18 carries for 101 yards) was the man as he rushed for three touchdowns and practically carried the Utes on his back on the decisive fourth-quarter drive.
Mack picked up 47 yards on the game-winning drive, including a huge pickup on third down at the Air Force 25 and a 9-yard run that decided the game.
"When we needed it most he came through and ran very effectively," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.
"I'm ready for it, man I like running the ball and getting my number called," Mack said. "I think whoever's number is called, you have to make the most of it. You make the most of your opportunities and I think I did that."
Mack scored his first touchdown of the game and of the year with an 8-yard run around the right end late in the third quarter. Then early in the fourth quarter, he took a pitch from Brian Johnson on fourth-and-1 from the 1-yard line and swept into the end zone from the left side.
After the Falcons tied it with 5:06 left, the Utes faced 80 yards of real estate to win the game. Mack got it started with a 14-yard run off the left side. After Asiata came in and burst off runs of 8 and 13 yards to get into Air Force territory, the Utes turned to Mack again.
With the ball at the Air Force 30, the Utes ran Mack for 1 and 4 yards on consecutive plays, and it almost looked like the Utes were going to get in position for a Louie Sakoda field goal. But on third-and-5, Mack trucked his way up a big hole and cut to the left down to the 9-yard line.
"They opened up a little crease for me and I hit it as hard as I could and tried to make something happen," Mack said. "The O-line made a perfect hole for me to hit and helped me get that run."
On the next play, Mack went left again and this time he rumbled to the 1-yard line and reached across the line for the touchdown.
"I kind of hopped through there and tried to finish that run," Mack said. "It was a tough run, he almost got me, but I put the ball in the end zone."
In the end, Mack gave the credit to his offensive line, which includes Zane Beadles, Caleb Schlauderaff, Zane Taylor, Robert Conley and Dustin Hensel."It wasn't possible without the offensive line," Mack said. "Those guys work hard. I wouldn't have been there without those guys."
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