Football: Utes shock Stanford 27-21
The Utes controlled the momentum throughout most of the contest and led by 13 early in the fourth quarter before the Cardinal made a late run to cut the lead to six with a chance to win at game’s end.
Stanford moved the ball from its own 12-yard line deep into the Utah red zone on the game’s final drive. On fourth down and two to go with 51 seconds remaining, the Cardinal were just six yards away from the goal line and a touchdown that would seal a comeback victory.
With the win on the line, the Utes’ defense did what it had done throughout the game and came up with a huge stop.
“We believed in each other, and at the end of the day that is all that mattered,” said left end Nate Orchard. “We knew we could hang with them from the beginning and that’s what we did.”
In the course of the game, Orchard caused two strips that resulted in fumble recoveries for the Utes as Utah’s physical defensive play made Stanford look very un-Stanford like at times. The Cardinal, known for efficiency a lack of mistakes, made several costly mental errors aside from their two fumbles. Stanford finished the game with six penalties, totaling 33 yards.
In the first quarter however, Stanford’s offense showed why the team was ranked No. 5 in the nation. Standout wide receiver and kick returner Ty Montgomery hauled in a 34-yard pass on the game’s first play from scrimmage. A few plays later, the Cardinal took a 7-0 lead on a one-yard rushing touchdown by running back Tyler Gaffney.
Utah answered back quickly as running back Bubba Poole broke open a 35-yard play on a short pass from Travis Wilson on the first play of the Utes’ drive. Poole’s 21-yard rush later in the drive would set up a short touchdown by Karl Williams and the game was tied at 7-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, Montgomery returned a kick out of the end zone 100 yards for a Stanford touchdown. Utah was undaunted and at the end of the first quarter, Wilson connected with Dres Anderson for a 51-yard bomb on third and 17 that resulted in a touchdown. Anderson scored again on a three-yard rush in the second quarter and the Utes entered the half with a 21-14 lead.
Poole continued to gash Stanford’s defense the entire night and finished with a breakout performance, totaling 111 rushing yards and an additional 75 yards receiving. Although the Utes did not score a touchdown in the second half, kicker Andy Phillips scored on two field goals, including a 48-yard kick that went right through the uprights and kept his season perfect.
Those field goals would be key down the stretch as Stanford mounted a second-half comeback that came up just short.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham commented on the gutsy performance of the Utes, and the importance of the team’s first Pac-12 win.
“I think we’ve proved that we can stand toe-to-toe with the teams in this conference, the upper-echelon teams in this conference, and slug it out,” Whittingham said. “I’m proud of my guys for that. This win is very gratifying, especially against a team as good as Stanford.”