PASADENA, Calif. — One more. As a wild week of upsets came to a close, it could have been the Utah Utes’ mantra late Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.
It wound up being their reality.
After seven teams in the Associated Press Top 25 had lost to lesser or unranked teams over a three-day stretch, the Utes made it eight with a 30-28 victory over No. 8 UCLA.
Before leaving the hotel for the stadium, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham reminded his team about all the upsets.
"We've got a chance to be right in that same conversation," he said. "The players, they knew it, I didn't have to tell them. They understoood that there were upsets going on and we went out and slayed us another giant — just like we did last year with Stanford."
Andy Phillips made a game-winning field goal from 29 yards out with 34 seconds remaining. The Utes then weathered two long field goal attempts by UCLA at the end of the game to prevail.
"Obviously this is a disappointing loss. My hat is off to Utah," said UCLA coach Jim Mora. "They played a great game and beat us."
Utah (4-1, 1-1) built an early 14-0 advantage in its first win over UCLA in California. The Utes used a variety of contributions in overpowering the Bruins (4-1, 1-1) before a crowd of 74,329. In doing so, they avoided a fourth-consecutive 0-2 start in Pac-12 play.
Utah’s offense, defense and special teams all put points on the board.
Safety Tevin Carter got things started by returning an interception 27 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. The offense, under the direction of backup quarterback Kendal Thompson, was next.
The Oklahoma transfer, who completed 10-of-13 passes for 95 yards and rushed for 83 yards, replaced starter Travis Wilson after Utah opened the game with three consecutive three-and-outs. Thompson led one such series himself before capping the next drive with a 42-yard touchdown pass to Dres Anderson early in the second quarter. Phillips added his second PAT to extend the Utes’ lead to 14-0.
UCLA responded with a 4-yard TD run by Paul Perkins just over three minutes later. Ka’imi Fairbairn followed with the extra point as the Bruins cut the deficit in half.
Utah, though, answered with a 48-yard field goal by Phillips just two seconds before the intermission to take a 17-7 lead into the break.
When play resumed, both teams scored third-quarter touchdowns. UCLA struck first, scoring on a 10-yard run by Eddie Vanderdoes. Utah later countered with a 6-yard touchdown burst by Devontae Booker, who finished with a game-high 156 yards rushing.
The Utes carried a 24-14 advantage into the fourth quarter. That’s when Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley heated up. The highly touted junior connected on a 93-yard scoring strike to Devin Fuller to tighten things up.
After Phillips added a 45-yard field goal to give Utah a little breathing room at 27-21, Hundley fired back just over 90 seconds later. His 40-yard touchdown pass to Eldridge Massington with 4:50 remaining evened things up before Fairbairn’s PAT gave the Bruins their first lead of the game at 28-27 — the exact same score that Washington State edged Utah by a week earlier at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
That defeat led to Whittingham noting that the Utes needed to find a way to make just “another play” to get it done.
This time, they found a way. Phillips drilled the game-winning kick in the final minute — a successful end to a 10-play, 63-yard drive. The Utes then held on — surviving a pair for field goal attempts by UCLA in the final two seconds — for the win. A 55-yard attempt missed, but the Utes were flagged for running into the kicker. A 50-yard attempt followed and was no good as time expired.
The defense finished with 10 sacks, the most in a game since 1983. Nate Orchard tied a school record with four.
Earlier in the week, Whittingham was asked if his team’s 27-21 upset of No. 5 Stanford last season served as any sort of inspiration against ranked opponents in the Pac-12.
“I don’t want to use the word parity, but competitiveness, that any given Saturday you better be ready to play or you can get beat,” he said.
The Utes have their second and final bye of the season next week. They return to action Thursday, Oct. 16 at Oregon State (8 p.m., Fox Sports 1). The Beavers (4-1, 1-1) defeated Colorado 36-31 Saturday in Boulder.
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