Like they did in the win over BYU last month, the Ute special teams came through and made the difference in the victory over Arizona.

Whether it was the kickoff returns of Cal Beck or the fine punts of Jason Jones, the Utes won the special teams battle at the Freedom Bowl."If you play strong defense and special teams, you can win," said longtime Ute assistant and special teams coach Sean McNabb. "Tonight was a classic football game that we won because of our defense and special teams. All in all, they did everything we asked."

Jones had a career-high 10 punts with a 41-yard average. It was his final punt that led to a key sequence that gave the Utes the unlikely victory.

When a Ute drive stalled at the 50 with 5:44 left, Jones got off a nice kick that bounced inside the 10 and was downed on the 1-yard line.

"I knew that was my last punt and I wanted to come through," said Jones, who prepped at East High School. "I wanted to pin them inside the 10-yard line."

His punt did that and when the Wildcats couldn't move, they decided to take a safety. Then on the ensuing kickoff, Beck returned the kick 72 yards to set up the winning touchdown.

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Utah linebacker Mark Rexford led his team with 11 tackles Tuesday night and was a big reason for his team's defensive success against the Wildcats.

The senior from Ontario, Calif., had some extra incentive in Tuesday's Freedom Bowl.

Rexford dedicated the game to his 18-year-old brother, Joshua, who was killed a month ago in a mysterious shooting.

Recently Rexford put a tattoo on his right arm in tribute to his brother with the initials "JJR." Several other Ute players joined Rexford in dedicating the game to his younger brother.

"It's been tough on my family," said Rexford. "But this win gives me and my family a little sunshine."

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Back in Salt Lake at the Ute basketball game with Cal-Fullerton, they obviously had more on their minds than basketball.

At halftime in Anaheim, Utah media relations director Bruce Woodbury called one of his assistants in Salt Lake to check up on the basketball game.

"What's the score?" Woodbury asked.

"It's 7-7," came the reply.

"I know that, I'm at the game" said Woodbury, "What's the score of the basketball game?"

Thankfully it was a good night also at the Huntsman Center where the Utes won 84-63.

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As they have all season, penalties hurt the Utes Tuesday night. The Utes were whistled for nine penalties covering 94 yards. That was 25 more yards than they had in total offense and almost triple Arizona's 35 yards in penalties.

Three penalties were personal foul calls. One helped in the Wildcats' first drive for their touchdown in the first quarter. Another helped set up their second field goal in the fourth quarter.

At least this time Utah couldn't blame the penalties on WAC officials. The seven game officials were all from the Big 8.

EXTRA POINTS: Utah's win gave the Western Athletic Conference a 7-3 edge over the Pac-10 this year . . . The win was Utah's first over Arizona since 1972 . . . Several ex-Ute players were on hand for the game, including all-Americans Marv Fleming (1962), Roy Jefferson (1964) and Erroll Tucker (1985) . . . Utah's last bowl victory was a 32-6 win over West Virginia in the 1964 Liberty Bowl . . . Utah plays two Pac-10 schools, Oregon and Stanford, in its first two games next year, both at Rice Stadium.