SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utes offense is finally clicking on all cylinders.
Quarterback Tyler Huntley threw for two touchdowns, ran for another score and even caught a touchdown pass as Utah demolished Arizona Friday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium, 42-10.
The Utes improved to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in Pac-12 play.
Utah put up 495 yards of total offense, and has eclipsed the 400-yard mark in back-to-back games. Utah had 265 yards through the air and 230 on the ground, scoring on six of their 13 offensive drives.
On the other side of the ball, the Utes held Arizona to just 72 yards rushing and 318 yards of total offense and one touchdown.
“Man, that was pretty tight,” Huntley said with a big smile after the game.
Huntley finished the game 14-of-19 passing for 201 yards and two touchdowns. The junior turned in a complete offensive game, also notching 64 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown and a 58-yard receiving score from Britain Covey in the third quarter.
Asked if there is now a quarterback controversy after Covey’s throw, Huntley said, still flashing a big grin. “I’m definitely quarterback and that isn’t even a question.”
“It was a good positive for us tonight,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “It was good to see us build on last week’s victory and continue to get into a rhythm offensively. Overall, it was a great effort by the defense, as well. Special teams contributed. Just like last week, it was overall a good team win.”
Zack Moss added a team-high 68 rushing yards on 15 carries and a touchdown , while Demari Simpkins led the team in receiving yards with 78 on three catches, also recording a 68-yard score.
Chase Hansen and Maxs Tupai tied for the team lead in tackles against the Wildcats, finishing with nine each along with a sack from Hansen. Javelin Guidry and Cody Barton added eight tackles each with Barton also racking up a sack.
“We feel like the defense has a good squad,” Hansen said. “When everyone is doing their job, we just kind of click. When the offense and defense click at the same time, I just feel that we can be a pretty dangerous team in this conference.”
“I think it is confidence and, I don’t know if I would use the word relief, because we knew what we were capable all along,” said Covey. “We just had to eliminate some bad penalties and miscues. We are a good football team.”
On the first drive of the game, the Utes put together a well-executed drive that ended in an eight-yard touchdown reception by Samson Nacua to give Utah a 7-0 lead. The balanced 75-yard drive took 7:13 off the clock in the first quarter.
The momentum stayed in the Utes’ hands as they forced a quick three-and-out on defense and regained possession. It didn’t take long to find the end zone again, thanks in large part to a 39-yard catch from Jaylen Dixon to put Utah in the red zone. Moss was then able to punch in the one-yard rushing touchdown with 2:47 on the clock to make it 14-0.
Huntley continued to look down field, putting the Utes up 21-0 on the longest passing play of the season. He found Simpkins open for a beautiful pass over his shoulder for 68 yards to the end zone, ending a three-play, 83-yard drive with 10:30 to go in the second quarter.
It was Huntley who found himself in the end zone for Utah’s fourth touchdown of the game, breaking tackles for a three-yard score on a fourth-and-one to put Utah up 28-0 with 1:56 left in the first half. Huntley put up 31 rushing yards in the 58-yard scoring drive, including a 13-yard rush to put the Utes in the red zone.
“It is great to see Tyler having success,” Whittingham said. “He works so hard. He is a fierce competitor. He is a true student of the game, always in the film room preparing. It has been great to see the fruits of his labor payoff on game day.”
Arizona attempted a field goal with five seconds left in the first half, but missed it wide left, turning the ball over to the Utes. The Utes headed into the locker room holding the Wildcats to just 29 rushing yards and 114 total yards on offense after scoring on four of its six trips on offense.
The Utes wasted no time to start the third quarter after throwing something new at the Wildcat defense. Huntley handed the ball off to Britain Covey, who then dropped back for a 58-yard pass to a sprinting Huntley, finding him open for an explosive touchdown that sent the crowd into a frenzy. The two-play scoring drive gave the Utes a 35-0 lead with 13:12 on the clock.
“We’ve talked a lot about starting fast and starting physical,” Covey said. “I think we’ve really found an identity as a team and it’s obvious to see.”
Arizona was able to score 10 consecutive points on the Utes with a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter (9:16), followed by a 42-yard receiving touchdown to start the fourth. The touchdown cut the Utah lead to 35-10, ending a seven-play, 93-yard drive with 13:23 left to play in the game.
Later on in the fourth quarter, Utah made it 42-10 after Armand Shyne scored his first touchdown of the season and last of the game on a 22-yard rush.
The Utes return to action on Saturday, Oct. 20 when they host USC for Homecoming. The game is set for a 6 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“Big challenge coming up next week with the Trojans coming to town,” Whittingham said. “Our backs are against the wall every single week from here on out. We knew that this week. We knew it last week. Nothing new there.”