SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – In a week that began with disaster when starting quarterback Tyler Huntley and leading rusher Zack Moss went down with season-ending injuries, the Utes showed just how deep they really are.
Jason Shelley and Armand Shyne stepped in and led the Utes to a much-needed 32-25 victory over Oregon Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Utes improved to 7-3 overall and 5-3 in Pac-12 play with one conference game remaining, still very much alive for the Pac-12 South title.
“It was a gutsy performance,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We are still on the hunt and I have to give a lot of credit to Jason Shelley and Armand Shyne. Armand rushed for 170 yards and was a huge plus for us. Jason took care of the football with zero turnovers in his first start against a darn good opponent and I am proud of him.”
Shelley finished the game 18-of-31 passing for 262 yards, adding 22 yards on the ground and Utah’s two offensive touchdowns on rushes.
“We had a little adversity, but we fought through it,” said Shelley, who made his first career start. “I knew Armand and I was comfortable with him since we are on second string.”
Shyne racked up a career high 174 yards rushing on 26 carries, his second career game with 100-plus yards.
In the receiving game, true freshman Cole Fotheringham led the Utes with five catches for a career best 76 yards.
Utah finished the game with a season high tying 12 tackles for loss, led by Chase Hansen who had 3.5 TFL and 13 total. Cody Barton added 11 total tackles and three tackles for loss to round out Utah’s two double-digit tacklers.
Special teams was key in the game with Matt Gay going 6-for-6 in field goals, setting a new school record., which is a new school record for field goals in game, including a season-long 55-yarder.
“That is what the situation called for,” Whittingham said about the field goals. “We want to be aggressive when the odds are in our favor and there was not an instance tonight where I wished we went for it on fourth down. We could not get much movement on them inside the five-yard line. They have some strong kids.”
The Utes quickly got on the scoreboard with a 35-yard field goal from Gay, putting Utah up 3-0 with 10:36 on the clock. The field goal was set up by some great ground work by Shyne, including a monstrous 42-yard rush to the Oregon 37 with the field goal ending a 10-play, 79-yard drive.
The momentum stayed with the Utes on Oregon’s first offensive drive after Justin Herbert fumbled and Hauati Pututau recovered the ball on the 34-yard-line. Britain Covey accounted for 32 yards in the first two plays of Utah’s drive, allowing Shelley to punch in the two-yard rushing touchdown to give Utah a 10-0 lead at the 7:44 mark in the first.
Utah’s first quarter performance shined on both sides of the ball, racking up 174 yards of total offense while holding Oregon to just four. Add in a field goal from Gay and a 54-yard punt from Wishnowsky and the Utes were firing from all cylinders.
The Utes opened scoring in the second quarter as well with Gay knocking in his second field goal of the game. The 20-yard field goal gave Utah a 13-0 advantage with 12:24 left to play, ending a 16-play, 78-yard drive to take 6:18 off the clock.
Oregon had an answer on the next drive, putting its first points on the board on a 34-yard pass from Herbert to the end zone. The touchdown cut the Utah lead to 13-7 on a six-play, 75-yard drive.
Utah struggled to find the end zone with 6:07 left to go in the second quarter, having to settle on a 21-yard field goal to give them a 16-7 lead. The field goal was set up in large part to a career long 40-yard catch from Fotheringham, putting the Utes on the Oregon 34 and in scoring opportunity.
Gay’s fourth field goal of the game was a spectacular one as he converted a 55-yard field goal, the second longest of his career, as time expired in the second quarter. The field goal, which was his sixth career field goal of 50-plus yards, gave the Utes a 19-7 halftime lead.
Oregon opened the third quarter by scoring 10 straight points, starting with an eight-yard passing touchdown along with a 34-yard field goal. The two scoring drives made it a two-point game with Utah holding a 19-17 lead against the Ducks with 6:52 on the clock.
Gay tied the school record and set a new career high for field goals made with 3:27 left in the third quarter when he sent in his fifth field goal of the game. The 41-yarder gave Utah a five-point cushion to end the six-play, 53-yard drive after a 41-yard rush from Shyne put the Utes in scoring territory.
The Ducks took their first lead of the game in the fourth quarter after a Utah punt was blocked and recovered at the seven-yard-line. Oregon scored a three-yard passing touchdown on the next play and then converted the two-point conversion to put themselves up 25-22 with 8:15 left to play in the game.
The Utes were didn’t hesitate though, turning the tides back in their favor with 6:48 on the clock. After a 60-yard drive down field that included a 36-yard pass to Jaylen Dixon to put the Utes on the Oregon 18, Shelley drove home the two-yard rushing touchdown to give Utah a 29-25 lead.
The Utah defense once against came up big when they forced Oregon to turn the ball over on downs after Jaylon Johnson forced the fourth down on a pass breakup. On Utah’s next drive, Gay officially broke the school record for field goals made in a game when he hit a 24-yarder with 15 seconds left on the clock, sealing the 32-25 win for the Utes.
“We have been able to see what they can do all offseason,” Hansen said. “They just make plays. They killed it tonight. It was fun to watch.”
Utah returns to action when they take on Colorado on the road on Nov. 17. The game time will be announced tomorrow evening.