Despite being up 21-7, the Utes came up short on a controversial play-call on 2-point conversion instead of going for a tie. Because of the failed attempt, the Utes came up short and fell to USC, their second straight conference loss. It would have been the first victory on the road against the Trojans in 101 years.
Utah’s defense got off to a good start when cornerback Marquis Blair recovered a fumble by USC quarterback Sam Darnold and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown. The Utes were up 7-0 after the defensive score in the first quarter. With less than 5 minutes left in the first quarter, Darnold threw a 52-yard seam pass to tight end Tyler Petite for a touchdown to tie the ballgame 7-7.
Early in the second quarter, the Utes scored their second touchdown of the night after running a trick play where quarterback Troy Williams handed off to receiver Demari Simpkins who then threw it back to Williams who stretched the ball into the end zone for the score, regaining the lead 14-7. Late in the second quarter, Williams matched Darnold by throwing a deep pass to Simpkins for a 33-yard touchdown to give the Utes a double-digit lead. The Trojans trailed 21-7 at halftime.
In the second half, USC made a comeback , scoring 21 unanswered points behind Darnold. In the third quarter, Darnold found Petite again for his second touchdown of the night to cut Utah's lead to 21-14.
Ten plays into the fourth quarter, Darnold handed the ball to Josh Falo for a 1-yard rushing touchdown to tie the ballgame. Less than five minutes later, USC gained its first lead of the night on an 11-yard run by the Trojan’s leading back, Ronald Jones, to put USC up 28-21. With little time left, Williams managed an 11-play drive capped by his own rushing touchdown. Head Coach Kyle Whittingham decided to go for it all instead for the tie. Williams was looking to pass on 2-point conversion attempt, but was forced to scramble and was tackled short of the end zone, allowing USC to escape with a win 28-27.
Moss rushed for a career-high 141 yards in 20 carries on the night. The sophomore was trucking over USC defenders and putting them on their backs to move the chains for Utah’s offense.
Blair was all over the field defensively. Not only did he lead the Utes with 8 tackles, he scooped up a Darnold fumble and scored to set the tone for Utah. He also made some vicious hits on USC receivers.
Special teams played a major factor on both sides of the field. Utah punter Wishnowsky stayed true to his Ray Guy award-winning standards. He punted six times for a total of 281 yards, a 46.8 average. His longest was a 60-yarder in the fourth quarter that forced the USC offense to start at its own 7-yard line.
Utah’s record is 4-2 (1-2 in the Pac-12). The Utes are looking to avoid a three game losing streak as they face Arizona State at home on Oct.21.
The Sun Devils are 3-3 (2-1 in the Pac-12) and fresh off an upset victory over the fifth-ranked Washington Huskies. The Sun Devils’ three losses have all been one or two possession games.