SEATTLE (ABC4 Sports) – The Utes football team has broken the Washington Curse.
After losing four straight game to the Huskies, and 12 of 13 overall, Tyler Huntley, Zack Moss and the vaunted Utah defense helps the Utes rally in the second half to knock off Washington, 33-28.
“It was a gut check, a gut check for our guys,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We hung in there, never quit, kept fighting and found a way to win. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of players.”
With the victory, the 9th-ranked Utes improve to 8-1 overall, 5-1 in the Pac-12, keeping its Pac-12 championship and College Football Playoff hopes alive.
With Utah’s win and USC’s loss to Oregon, Utah is now all alone in first place in the Pac-12 South and controls its own destiny to win the division.
Utah finishes the regular season with home games against UCLA and Colorado and a road game at Arizona.
“It was a big win for us,” Moss said. “They had our number the last couple of years, and we wanted to make a statement. We have a lot of faith in this team, and we knew coming down here was going to be a big one. This team really prevailed today and it was great to see.”
“It’s up there for me,” Whittingham said. “I’d have to go back and look at them but it’s up there. It’s very, very satisfying, especially under the circumstances.”
Huntley completed 19 of 24 passes for 284 yards, with one touchdown pass to Moss, one touchdown run.
Moss rushed the ball 27 times for 100 yards and a game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Washington jumped out to an early 14-3 lead on two touchdown passes from Jacob Eason.
But the Utes cut the lead to 14-13 at the half on a 9-yard touchdown run by moss and a 32-yard field goal by Jadon Redding.
The Huskies extended the lead to 21-13 when Eason hit Hunter Bryant on a 40-yard touchdown, Bryant’s second touchdown catch of the game.
But the game then swung on a 39-yard pick-6 by Jaylon Johnson to cut the Washington lead to 21-19.
“It was a great defensive effort,” said defensive back Julian Blackmon, who also had an interception. “I just felt they were going to make plays, we knew they were going to make plays, it was just a matter of us responding. “How we were going to respond and the second half I thought we did that really well.”
The Utes then took the lead in the fourth quarter when Huntley scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.
Moss then scored from two yards out with 4:52 left in the game to seal it.
Washington did get within five when Eason threw his fourth touchdown of the game to Aaron Fuller. But the Utes recovered the onside kick to end it.
“It says a lot,” Moss said. “We’ve had a lot of games, the last three games or whatever it’s been by putting up 40 points and our defense looking impeccable. When we can do this and come on the road and win a game like this and doing it the way we did, that’s what championship teams do and that’s what we’ve been missing the last couple of years.”
The Utah defense forced three turnovers on the game with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
The Utes run defense, ranked number one in the nation, gave up just 56 yards on the ground to the Huskies.
The Utes now have a bye week before hosting UCLA on November 16th.