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No. 15 ASU edges No. 18 Utah in overtime, takes Pac-12 South lead

SHARE No. 15 ASU edges No. 18 Utah in overtime, takes Pac-12 South lead
We’ve got to regroup. We’ve got a tough Oregon team coming into our place next week. – Utah coach Kyle Whittingham

TEMPE, Ariz. — Utah’s bid to make a late-night jump to the top of the Pac-12 South came up short Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium. The 18th-ranked Utes dropped a 19-16 overtime decision to No. 14 Arizona State, snapping their three-game winning streak and costing them a chance to take sole possession of first place in the division.

A 36-yard field goal by ASU’s Zane Gonzalez proved to be the difference in a back-and-forth affair that ended at 12:36 a.m. (MST). The game-winning kick came three plays after Andy Phillips was wide left on a 35-yard attempt for the Utes.

“Give credit to Arizona State. They made one more play than we did,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “That’s what it came down to.”

The Utes (6-2, 3-2) could have moved atop the Pac-12 South with a win. Arizona lost to UCLA earlier in the evening, assuring the ASU-Utah victor would be the lone team in the division with one conference loss.

“It’s a tough group of guys that we’ve got in our locker room. Physically, mentally, they slug it out all the way down to the final play, and it’s just unfortunate that we came up short,” Whittingham said. “But I’m proud of our guys. We’ve got to regroup. We’ve got a tough Oregon team coming into our place next week.”

Phillips, who had made 12 consecutive field goal attempts prior to the miss, said it was a misjudgment on his part. The sophomore noted that the wind was blowing right-to-left and he should have went with his instinct after missing to the right on an attempt that followed a Utah timeout — called because the play clock was expiring.

The kick that followed and counted, Phillips added, had just a little bit over-compensation.

“When it comes to field-goal kicking, it’s a game of inches, and I put that one just barely outside the upright,” Phillips said. “Um, yeah ... misjudgment.” The Utes overcame a shaky start to take a 16-13 lead into the final 5:47 of regulation — that’s when Gonzalez pulled the Sun Devils even with a 30-yard field goal.

Trailing by seven, Utah opened the third quarter with two scoring drives. The first spanned 75 yards on 10 plays and resulted in a touchdown. A 4-yard scoring strike from Travis Wilson to Devontae Booker and a PAT from Phillips evened things up at 13-13.

After forcing ASU to three plays and a punt, the Utes took their first and only lead when Phillips drilled a 44-yard field goal with 6:09 remaining in the third.

“I think we finally got in a rhythm, going a little faster and went a little faster, which helped out a lot,” said Wilson, who was 12-of-22 passing for 57 yards. “But only scoring one touchdown in the second half isn’t going to win games. We got to improve a lot on offense.”

Booker was a bright spot, finishing with 146 yards rushing on 37 carries — eclipsing 100 yards for the fifth consecutive game.

“It is really frustrating. We took a tough loss tonight. I felt like we should have done better on offense at the end,” Booker said. “Defense played great. We all left our hearts out on the field tonight. We should have come away with the victory.”

Utah trailed 13-6 at halftime after Phillips made a 36-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter. The kick capped the Utes’ best possession of the half — an 11-play march that covered 49 yards in just over 2½ minutes.

It tightened the score and made things a little less lopsided statistically.

When Arizona State scored the game’s first touchdown on a 6-yard pass from Taylor Kelly to Jaelen Strong midway through the quarter, Utah had numbers that would make write-in candidates blush on Election Day. The Sun Devils had sizable leads in total yards (234-48), passing yardage (98-4) and first downs (10-4).

ASU’s touchdown toss put an end to what had been a field-goal fest. The Sun Devils took a 6-0 lead after Zane Gonzalez capped their first two possessions with kicks from 20 and 45 yards out.

Utah got on the board in the second quarter after capitalizing on an interception by linebacker Gionni Paul. His fourth pick of the season — the most by a Ute since Conroy Black had a similar amount in 2011 — eventually led to a 50-yard field by Phillips that made it 6-3.

ASU improves to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in Pac-12 play with the victory. The Sun Devils extended their win streak over the Utes to 11 games.

More importantly, however, is they’ve taken control of the Pac-12 South.

“We’re in the driver seat. That’s where we want to be. We just have to keep getting better each week,” said Kelly, who was 18-of-32 for 205 yards. “That’s the big thing for us, how we’re going to handle success. The coaches do a great job of emphasizing that part to our guys on our team. We just have to keep getting better each week.”

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