SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s 32-25 win over Oregon wasn’t exactly a case of no Tyler Huntley, no Zack Moss, no problem. Saturday’s game at Rice-Eccles Stadium did prove to be a battle. The Utes, though, were well-armed with Jason Shelley and Armand Shyne more than adequately stepping in for the injured Huntley and Moss.
Shelley, a redshirt freshman, completed 18 of 31 passes for 262 yards and rushed for both of Utah’s touchdowns. Shyne, a junior, set the pace by rushing for 174 yards on 26 carries.
“We have been able to see what they can do all offseason,” said linebacker Chase Hansen. “They just make plays. They killed it tonight. It was fun to watch.”
Utah clinched its fifth consecutive winning season in improving to 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the Pac-12. The Utes also remain in contention for the South Division title and a trip to the conference championship game.
“A win is a win. It was a gutsy performance,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “We are still in the hunt, and I have to give a lot of credit to Jason Shelley and Armand Shyne.”
Shelley’s first collegiate start began on a challenging note. The Utes attempted a reverse on the opening kickoff and wound up getting stopped on their own 4-yard line, giving Shelley little room to operate. The redshirt freshman wound up leading a scoring drive that consisted of 10 plays. Matt Gay capped it off with a 35-yard field goal, the first of a school-record six he would make in the game.
Utah’s defense then got involved. On Oregon’s initial possession, linebacker Cody Barton forced quarterback Justin Herbert to fumble and the ball was recovered by defensive tackle Hauati Pututau on the Utes’ 34-yard line. Five plays later, Shelley added a 2-yard touchdown run to the lead. Gay followed with the PAT as Utah took a 10-0 advantage with 7:44 left in the opening quarter.
Shyne had a 42-yard run on the first scoring drive, and wide receiver Britain Covey had a pivotal 14-yard reception on third-and-9. Covey also came up big on the second score. The sophomore hauled in a 21-yard catch on third-and-10 and followed it up with a 11-yard run to set up the short TD run by Shelley.
Utah extended its lead to 13-0 early in the second quarter when Gay added a 20-yard field goal.
After losing a fumble and punting twice, Oregon produced a touchdown on its fourth drive. A 34-yard scoring strike from Herbert to Dillon Mitchell put the Ducks on the board with 10:23 to go in the half. Adam Stack’s PAT closed the gap to 13-7.
Before the quarter was complete, though, Utah responded with a pair of field goals. Gay connected on kicks from 21 and 55 yards out as the Utes took a 19-7 lead into halftime. They also held advantages in total offense (302-136) and first downs (15-8).
Oregon reduced the deficits when the third quarter opened. The Ducks marched 75 yards on nine plays in 4:01 to cut Utah’s lead to 19-14. An 8-yard touchdown throw from Herbert to Mitchell completed the drive. Stack contributed the extra point. He later made a 34-yard field goal to make it 19-17.
Utah answered with a 41-yard kick by Gay with 3:27 to play in the third, giving the Utes a little breathing room at 22-17.
There wasn’t much time, however, for them to enjoy it. The fourth quarter proved to be quite challenging.
The drama began with 8:20 left to play when Oregon’s Kano Dillon blocked a punt by Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky. Adrian Jackson recovered it for the Ducks and rolled to the 3-yard line. On first down, Herbert connected with Travis Dye for a touchdown. Then came a two-point conversion from Herbert to Jaylon Redd.
Trailing 25-22, Utah retaliated quickly. Headlined by a 36-yard completion from Shelley to Jaylen Dixon, the Utes regained the lead just over 1½ minutes later. A 2-yard TD by Shelley put them back on top for good.37 comments on this story
“We had a little adversity,” Shelley said. “But we fought through it.”
It took a loss on downs by Oregon and a 24-yard field goal by Gay with 15 seconds to go to ultimately run the clock down. The game ended with Herbert attempting a spike near midfield as time expired.
“I am proud of a lot of guys and this shows the character of the team. We do not quit,” Hansen said. “We get hit and get back up. It’s part of the culture that coach Whittingham has built.”
Utah concludes Pac-12 play Saturday at Colorado (5-5, 2-5).