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Sunday morning QB: Stars and stats from Utah's last-second loss to Oregon

SALT LAKE CITY — On paper, Saturday afternoon’s contest between the No. 11 Utah Utes and the Oregon Ducks at Rice-Eccles Stadium was supposed to be a one-sided affair, as the Utes’ Pac-12 South title hopes were very much alive on Senior Day and the Ducks had sputtered to a 3-7 record.

Instead, a rather uninspired effort from Utah allowed Oregon to stay close throughout, and the Ducks seized the 30-28 victory with two seconds remaining on a fantastic touchdown catch by Darren Carrington. With the loss, the Utes moved to 8-3 and were eliminated from contention for the division crown.

Scoring recap

The early minutes of the contest followed the pregame narrative, as the Ducks stalled on the first offensive possession and Utah responded with a six-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, capped by a shifty 24-yard run from Cory Butler-Byrd.

Oregon shot back, however, going 62 yards over 15 plays on the ensuing drive before settling for a 47-yard field goal from Aidan Schneider. With 5:26 left in the opening quarter, the score was 7-3 in the Utes’ favor.

Neither team scored for nearly two quarters, but with 10:45 remaining in the third, Utah capitalized on a short field, going 44 yards to the end zone in six plays to stretch its lead to 14-3. Joe Williams’ 12-yard run was the punctuating play.

Inside of a minute remaining in the third, the Ducks used a 45-yard punt return from Dillon Mitchell to get a short field, and on the first play of the drive, quarterback Justin Herbert found Jalen Brown for a 29-yard touchdown, and the score was 14-10 Utes heading into the fourth quarter.

After Utah punted to open the frame, Oregon went on a 96-yard touchdown drive to take a 17-14 lead with 10:37 remaining. A 1-yard pass from Herbert to running back Royce Freeman was the scoring play.

Having sputtered offensively once again on their ensuing drive, the Utes received an absolute gift when Mitch Wishnowsky’s punt was touched by Mitchell and rolled into the end zone where Utah recovered it for a touchdown to take a 21-17 lead with 9:43 left.

The Ducks answered right back again, though, scoring a touchdown when Herbert punched it into the end zone from a yard out to cap a nine-play, 75-yard drive. With 6:41 left, Oregon led 24-21.

Continuing the fourth quarter shootout, the Utes fired back, as Troy Williams connected with Evan Moeai for a 30-yard touchdown with 2:18 remaining to give Utah the lead at 28-24. The score punctuated a 10-play, 75-yard drive.

Just as it had done throughout the day, Oregon had a response, as it drove to the Utes’ 17-yard line with 14 seconds remaining. After an incomplete pass, Herbert found Carrington in the end zone. The pass was initially ruled incomplete, but a review confirmed that Carrington had a foot in bounds and the Ducks took the 30-28 lead with two seconds left.

Utah failed to generate anything on the kickoff return, ultimately losing the game.

Utah’s three stars

Mitch Wishnowsky, P

On a day that was disappointing for the Utes in a number of ways, the Australian was a bright spot. He averaged 47.3 yards on six punts, booting three of them more than 50 yards and pinning one of them inside the 20-yard line.

Although he wasn’t directly responsible, his punt in the fourth quarter that was touched by Mitchell and recovered by Utah in the end zone gave the home team a brief lead.

Hunter Dimick, DE

Coming into the day tied for the school record with 27 sacks, Dimick got two more in his final game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Joe Williams, RB

While the Ute offense wasn’t very good on the day, he was its best performer, tallying 149 rushing yards on 23 carries with a touchdown.

Analyzing the stats

— After a nearly even first half in the total yardage department, Oregon wound up winning the statistic 575-453.

— Utah had just two trips into the red zone, scoring on one of them. The Ducks scored on three of their four trips into the red zone.

— In the quarterbacking battle, freshman Herbert went 30 of 43 for 324 yards and three touchdowns, while Utah junior Troy Williams went 20 of 30 for 235 yards and one touchdown. Neither threw an interception.

— Utah, which has controlled the time of possession throughout the season, lost it by 34 seconds, 30:17-29:43.

— The Ducks were 9 of 18 on third down, while the Utes were 5 of 12.

Up next

Utah will play Colorado on the road in both teams’ regular-season finale Saturday. If the Buffaloes win, they’ll claim the Pac-12 South title and a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game Dec. 2. If the Utes win, USC will take the South crown.

The Ducks will play Oregon State Saturday in Corvallis, Oregon.

Ryan McDonald is a sports reporter at Follow him on Twitter @ryanwmcdonald.