SEATTLE (ABC4 Sports) – It was a tale of two halves for the Utes football team against Washington Saturday night.
After dominating the first half against the Huskies in building a 21-0 lead, Washington stormed back for 24 unanswered points in the second half, scoring the game-winning touchdown with 36 seconds left to hand the Utes its second loss to open the season, 24-21.
Down 21-0 at halftime, Washington capped its comeback with Dylan Morris hitting Cade Otton on a 16-yard touchdown pass, capping an 88-yard drive.
Morris and Otton were the stars on the final drive, and McDuffie’s interception of Jake Bentley’s desperation heave in the final moments clinched the stunning comeback.
“A lot of positive things in that game,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “The way we played in the first half is indicative of who we can be, but we didn’t finish. There’s 60 minutes of football and we played 30 of them.”
Morris was brilliant on Washington’s final drive, taking the Huskies 88 yards in less than four minutes, capping the winning drive by rolling to his left and throwing across his body to find his big tight end. Otton had eight catches for 108 yards and a pair of second-half TD receptions.
Morris was 23 of 38 for 272 yards and the two TD passes to go along with three interceptions. He was 6 of 9 for 71 yards on Washington’s final drive, including a play where the snap was botched but Morris still hit Otton for a completion.
“That’s the type of calm that he has through adverse situations,” Washington coach Jimmy Lake said. “Really that sequence right there really captures what Dylan Morris is about.”
Bentley was 16 of 23 for 144 yards and one touchdown in his first start for Utah. But Bentley also threw two interceptions, one in the third quarter that helped Washington’s comeback and the desperation throw in the final moments.
“The defense is doing a great job of getting the ball back for us and getting off the field and we’ve got to stop giving it back and that starts with me. It’s frustrating for sure because you feel like you let the team down,” Bentley said.
Ty Jordan rushed for 97 yards as Utah (0-2) rolled up 215 yards rushing. But Jordan also had a costly fumble in the fourth quarter deep in Washington territory that cost the Utes a chance to pad their lead.
“The encouraging thing is is that’s who we can be,” Whittingham said. “That’s the football team that we’re capable of being. But you’ve got to put two halves together to finish the deal.”
Down 21-0 at halftime, Washington awakened in the third quarter on both sides of the ball. Kamari Pleasant’s 2-yard touchdown run capped the opening drive of the half and Washington pulled within 21-10 after Molden intercepted Bentley, leading to a field goal.
On Utah’s next possession, Bentley was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 QB sneak at the Washington 41 and turned the ball over on downs. Three plays later Morris hit Otton on a 21-yard TD strike and Utah’s lead was down to 21-17.
Morris had one mistake midway through the fourth quarter when he underthrew Ty Jones and was intercepted by Vonte Davis, but the freshman QB made up for it on the final drive.
“I think the first half was indicative of what we can be as a team, defensively,” said linebacker Devin Lloyd. “Offensively, special teams. We have to finish. We have to find a way to finish when it matters the most.”
The unexpected matchup between the Utes and Huskies came after both teams had their originally scheduled games canceled due to COVID-19 issues with their opponents. Washington was supposed to play rival Washington State while Utah was scheduled to travel to Arizona State.
Utah (0-2) next hosts Oregon State on Saturday, December 5th.