SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah defense bent, but did not break.
Clark Phillips III had three of Utah’s four interceptions, including a pick-6, as the 12th ranked Utes pulled away from Oregon State in the second half for a 42-16 victory.
Cam Rising threw for 199 yards and three touchdowns and added 73 yards and a score on the ground, as the Utes improved to 4-1 on the year, 2-0 in the Pac-12 Conference.
Utah avenged its only Pac-12 loss from last season.
Oregon State (3-2, 0-2) suffered its second straight loss despite rolling up 417 yards and 21 first downs.
“We found our toughness,” said senior safety R.J. Hubert, who had an interception. “This team has guts, passion, they’re tough, and I love these guys.”
Utah broke open a close game with a pair of third quarter touchdowns. Devaughn Vele fought scored on a 16-yard catch. Then, R.J. Hubert picked off a pass from Gulbranson in the end zone and returned it 70 yards to set up Jaylen Dixon’s 22-yard scoring run.
A 4-yard toss from Rising to Dalton Kincaid gave the Utes a 42-16 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Clark Phillips III intercepted Nolan twice in the first quarter, becoming the first Utah player since Julian Blackmon in the 2017 Heart of Dallas Bowl to have multiple interceptions in the same game. Phillips finished with three interceptions – the first Utah player to do since Robert Johnson had three picks against Colorado State in 2009.
“We noticed formational tendencies and (defensive coordinator Morgan) Scalley put us in position to be able to capitalize on that,” Phillips said. “I just so happened to be the outside corner on that (pick-six) play. As soon as I saw the ball snapped and the quarterback looked, I said this is the one and hopefully we score.”
“There’s nobody who studies more film than Clark and that leads to big plays,” Whittingham said. “The more film you study, the more big plays you’re going to make.”
Phillips snagged his first interception on Oregon State’s second play from scrimmage to set up Dixon’s diving 19-yard catch three plays later that gave Utah a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
The Beavers answered on their next drive. Silas Bolden took a pitch and ran 29 yards untouched on a reverse to even the score. Phillips jumped a route for his second interception and returned it 38 yards to put Utah back in front midway through the first quarter.
Rising stiff-armed a defender, danced along the sideline, and dragged a would-be tackler to the pylon at the end of a 24-yard run to extend the Utes’ lead to 21-7 early in the second quarter.
Atticus Sappington made three field goals – two from 26 and one from 31 yards out – to help Oregon State trim the deficit to 21-16 early in the third quarter.
Utah next travels to the Rose Bowl to take on 5-0 UCLA October 8th at 1:30 p.m.