Utes rush for 441 yards in 52-7 blowout win over Stanford, 52-7

Sports

PALO ALTO, Calif. (ABC4 Sports) – One week after Tavion Thomas tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns, he equaled that feat — the first half.

Thomas ran for four more touchdowns, while the Utes racked up 441 yards rushing in a 52-7 thrashing of Stanford Friday night.

“It felt good,” Thomas said. “We doing our job every day, we work hard, and it’s paying off. Starting to see it pay off for us. O-block, baby.”

Thomas, Micah Bernard and T.J. Pledger all rushed for over 100 yards, as the Utes improved to 6-3 on the season, 5-1 in the Pac-12.

After Thomas rushed for four touchdowns, Pledger scored on a school-record 96-yard run, as the Utes built a commanding 38-0 halftime lead and never looked back.

“Obviously proud of our guys and the way they played the game tonight,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “Started fast, never really let up. The statistics at halftime were so skewed. I don’t know how we could play much better than we did. But we were hitting on all cylinders tonight. Run game was in high gear. That was really the key to the game, was our ability to run the football efficiently and effectively and for a bunch of yards.”

“Coach Whitt has a tremendous amount of confidence in this offense and knows that we like to start fast and like to get going early,” quarterback Cam Rising said. “The O-line did a great job that first drive and really dominated up front.”

The game was a mismatch from the start as the Utes (6-3, 5-1 Pac-12) scored TDs on their first two drives and didn’t allow the Cardinal (3-6, 2-5) to get a first down until it was 21-0 in the second quarter.

Utah just added on from there, scoring five TDs and one field goal on seven drives in the first half with the only stop coming on a botched snap.

Thomas raced for a 58-yard score on a one-play drive for the of his four TDs, tying the school record he had also matched last week against UCLA.

Pledger then outran the Cardinal defense on the first play of another drive for the longest run ever by the Utes.

Utah outgained Stanford 440-28 in taking a 38-0 halftime lead for the second highest yardage discrepancy in the first half of an FBS game in the past seven seasons, 24 yards shy of Boise State’s edge against Connecticut in 2018.

The Utah defense dominated Stanford, holding the Cardinal to just 167 yards, recording five sacks and an amazing pick-6 by Devin Lloyd. Lloyd jumped up at the line of scrimmage to bat the ball down, but instead snatched it out of the air and fell into the end zone for a touchdown.

“I was kind of in shock obviously honestly,” said Lloyd, who also had nine tackles and a sack. “I was like, I can’t believe. Yeah, felt really good to get back in the end zone. Being a former receiver, you know, love getting in the end zone, and on the defensive side, so always feels good to get back in there.”

“It was incredible,” Whittingham said. “I saw it happen in real time and watched the replay and still couldn’t believe that he could have the reflexes and the athleticism to make that catch, and then find his way into the end zone. It was only couple yards, but that’s who he is. He’s a big play guy.”

The Cardinal, who were playing without injured starting quarterback Tanner McKee, suffered their most lopsided loss since a 57-7 defeat to Notre Dame in 2003. Stanford has lost four straight games.

Thomas led the way for Utah with 177 yards on 20 carries a week after running for 160 yards and four scores against the Bruins. His 13 touchdown runs leads the Pac-12.

Bernard rushed for 110 yards on 12 carries, while Pledger finished with 107 yards on just four carries. The Utes became the first team in school history with three 100-yard rushers, and the first team in a Pac-12 game since Arizona did it against Oregon State in 2017.

“I want to see all my brothers eat,” Thomas said. “We all have goals and I want to see those boys do great. I was happy for them.”

Rising went 13 for 22 for 140 yards but mostly just had to hand the ball off for success on offense for the Utes, who finished with 441 yards on the ground.

Utah has now won five of its last six games.

The win puts the Utes in prime position to win the Pac-12 South and earn a trip to the conference title game in Las Vegas on Dec. 3. Utah can clinch the South with wins over division bottom-dwellers Arizona and Colorado even if the Utes lose to Oregon.

“Pedal to the metal,” Rising said. “It has to stay down. We have a job to do and a goal we want to accomplish. We still have to keep going, come in, and show up like this game never happened pretty much on Monday and take it from there.”

The Utes next play at Arizona Saturday November 13th at noon.

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