TEMPE, Ariz. — For senior Paris Warren, the only Ute to have ever played in the Fiesta Bowl prior to Saturday night's 35-7 win over Pittsburgh, "It don't get no better than this. A second trip back to the Fiesta Bowl, and I'm just happy."
Warren was named co-offensive player of the game, along with quarterback Alex Smith, after his record-setting night in Sun Devil Stadium.
Warren set a Fiesta Bowl record with 15 receptions, four better than the old mark of 11 set by Miami's Kellen Winslow, and it was five better than his Utah career high, which he had hit three times.
His 198 yards receiving were the third-most in Fiesta Bowl history and bettered his previous high — 137 yards against Texas A&M on Sept. 2.
"I say things happen for a reason," said Warren, who transferred from Oregon two years ago. "I chose Utah after leaving Oregon, and everything worked out good for me."
He said he had a "Loss of words. It can't get any better than this — 12-0, second Fiesta Bowl. I'm looking forward to next year now," he said, apparently expecting the NFL to beckon.
Warren and fellow receiver Steve Savoy cooked up a hook-and-ladder play that Utah used for an 18-yard touchdown play with :25 left in the third quarter to step on the throats of the Panthers four minutes after they had gotten their only score.
"I thank Steve for that," Warren said. Smith passed to Savoy on the corner, and he pitched back to Warren on a misdirection move, and Warren went up the left sideline for the score. "That's something me and Steve put together during practices."
Quarterbacks coach Dan Mullen, who served as an on-field offensive coordinator, said the Utes held that play patiently until it was just the right time to run it. He said Warren and Savoy had been fooling around with it, and when coach Urban Meyer said the Utes needed a trick play, that one came up.