SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It was the sweet taste of revenge.
After last season’s heartbreaking triple-overtime loss to San Diego State, the University of Utah football came out and dominated the Aztecs Saturday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium, 35-7
Cam Rising threw a career-high four touchdown passes, two to DeVaughn Vele, while the Utes defense allowed a measley 143 yards to the Aztecs, as the Utes improved to 2-1 on the season.
“I think we were just pissed off about last year, the way it finished coming up short,” Rising said. “We really just wanted to send a message, especially when we heard they were talking about physicality all week and how they were going to out-physical us again. We just took that personally.”
“It was a good win for our football team,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We’re starting to get a little momentum and figure out who we are. It was a slow start, but once we got going and got momentum, the floodgates kind of opened.”
After a slow scoreless start in the first quarter, Utah roared to life in the second quarter.
Rising threw touchdown passes on three consecutive drives to help the Utes take a 21-0 halftime lead. He got Utah on the board with a 30-yard strike to Brant Kuithe. His second touchdown pass was a 13-yard toss to Solomon Enis in the back of the end zone. Rising capped it off with a 15-yard pass to Devaughn Vele with 20 seconds left in the half.
Rising had thrown his first six touchdown passes to tight ends before finally hooking up with a wide receiver.
“We’re proving a lot of people wrong,” Vele said. “We heard a lot of things about them saying the receiving corps is lacking and we can’t trust them on the outside. But once we get the opportunity, we always make sure we capitalize on it.”
Rising ended up completing 10 of 12 passes for 123 yards in the second quarter alone.
Caine Savage recovered a fumble by Justus Tavai at the Aztecs 27 to set up Utah’s third touchdown before halftime.
The Utes eventually scored touchdowns on five straight drives, culminating in Rising’s fourth touchdown pass — a 3-yard toss to Vele — that gave Utah a 35-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
San Diego State (1-2) lost starting quarterback Braxton Burmeister to an injury in the first quarter and never got on track offensively. The Aztecs failed to convert a third down until midway through the third quarter and did not surpass 100 total yards of offense until the final minute of the quarter.
The Aztecs didn’t advance past midfield until the fourth quarter, and amassed just 173 total yards of offense. Cole Bishop led the defensive effort with nine tackles, while Karene Reid had an interception that set up a touchdown in the third quarter.
“We really needed that,” Reid said about the defensive effort. “I felt like the first two weeks, we were really trying to find our identity as a defense. So to play a team that loves to run the ball and takes pride in running the ball, and for us to stalemate them like that, it’s huge as far as momentum going into conference play.”
“After Florida, we had a lot of missed tackles, and that’s something that we really focused on,” Bishop said. “I don’t think we had too many of them tonight, and last week we didn’t have any at all. So as we keep building our confidence, its helping out.”
The only downside for the Utes is running back Chris Curry was lost for the season after suffering a lower leg injury in the third quarter.
“That really breaks my heart,” Whittingham said. “He’s a great kid, a great teammate. All he does is work hard and doesn’t complain. He will be missed.”
The Utes next open Pac-12 play September 24th at Arizona State.