TEMPE, Ariz. — Utah suffered a couple of setbacks Saturday at Arizona State. The 15th-ranked Utes lost control of Pac-12 South driver’s seat with a 38-20 loss to the Sun Devils. In the process, quarterback Tyler Huntley is likely out for the remainder of the season with an apparent shoulder injury.
“For the first time, in a long time, we got beat at the line of scrimmage. Their O-line pushed our defensive line around. It doesn’t usually happen. It hardly ever happens,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who also lamented about three turnovers on offense. “That was really our undoing. After four weeks of playing very well in all three phases, we didn’t play particularly well in any phase this afternoon.”
And just like that, Utah’s four-game win streak is snapped and the Utes (6-3, 4-3) will need some help in order to reach the Pac-12 Championship Game for the first time. ASU (5-4, 3-3) can claim the South Division crown by finishing out with wins over UCLA, Oregon and Arizona. Utah closes out conference play against Oregon and Colorado.
“There’s a lot of different things that can happen,” Whittingham said. “But one thing that can’t happen is us to let this linger and affect us next week.”
The Utes take on the Ducks Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. They’ll likely do so without Huntley. ESPN 700AM reported that the junior has a broken left collarbone.
“It looks like he’s most likely done for the season and Jason Shelley is our quarterback,” Whittingham said. “And we’ll know definitely tomorrow, but early indication is it’s probably something that will linger or last the rest of the season.”
Huntley completed 7 of 15 passes for 88 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown before getting hurt. He also had 42 yards rushing.
Shelley was 4 for 11 passing for 59 yards. The redshirt freshman was intercepted once.
Utah’s struggles throwing the ball were offset by running back Zack Moss, who ran for 128 yards and topped the 1,000-yard milestone for the second straight season.
The Utes, however, never really got on track.
ASU scored on the game’s opening possession, driving 75 yards on 11 plays. Assisting by a targeting call on Utah safety Philip Afi’a, the Sun Devils moved into scoring position and eventually crossed the goal line on a 6-yard run by Eno Benjamin. Brandon Ruiz added the PAT to make it 7-0 for ASU.
Utah’s first drive didn’t go so well, not well at all. It came to an abrupt end when Huntley was intercepted by defensive back Aashari Crosswell near the end zone. The freshman returned it 47 yards, and ASU followed with another successful offensive set. This one ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Manny Wilkins to N’Keal Harry.
Trailing 14-0, the Utes fired back with a sustained drive consisting of 10 snaps and 75 yards. Moss capped it with a 1-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the first quarter.
Utah’s comeback bid continued early in the second when Matt Gay added a 40-yard field goal, to close the deficit to 14-10.
It stayed that way until Huntley and Samson Nacua teamed on a 5-yard scoring strike with 2:15 to play in the half. The Utes covered 80 yards on 11 plays to take the lead.
Momentum, however, switched sides quickly. ASU responded with its third touchdown of the game just over one minute later. A 23-yard touchdown throw from Wilkins to Harry put the Sun Devils back on top.
Harry had six catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. ASU held a 271-217 advantage in total offense after two quarters.
When play resumed, things got downright defensive. The third quarter began with an exchange of interceptions. ASU struck first with linebacker Merlin Robertson picking off Huntley near midfield. On the ensuing possession, Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson intercepted Wilkins.
Then came punts from both sides. The Utes added a 31-yard field goal from Gay after that. They faced some adversity along the way with Huntley getting injured. Backup Jason Shelley completed passes to Brant Kuithe and Britain Covey before Moss contributed 38 yards on the ground to set up the kick.
Once the fourth quarter got going, though, the Sun Devils got offensive once again. They added 17 unanswered points to their 21-20 edge and pulled away handily.
The outburst began with a 61-yard touchdown pass from Wilkins to Harry. Ruiz added a 21-yard field goal just over four minutes later and Benjamin contributed a 44-yard run for a score by game’s end.
Any hopes for a Utah rally down the stretch were also compounded by a muffed punt return by Covey and Shelley getting intercepted by defensive back Kobe Williams.63 comments on this story
Things just didn’t work out for the Utes. Besides the final score, they came up short on several fronts — total offense (536-325), first downs (25-17) and time of possession (36:35-23:25).
“We lost the matchup and they made more plays than we did, and we didn’t come up to play today,” Johnson said.
Wilkins wound up completing 19 of 24 passes for 285 yards. Harry headlined the effort with nine catches for 161 yards and three touchdowns. Benjamin rushed for a game-high 175 yards and two scores.
“We kept our focus,” said ASU coach Herm Edwards. “The congratulations has to go to the coaches and the players. They did a great job of really getting ready to play this week.”