Despite a defensive ballgame from both teams, Utah came up short in a 23-20 loss to Stanford on homecoming night.

Scoring recap

Stanford got on the board first after place-kicker Jet Toner hit a 21-yard field goal to give the Cardinal a 3-0 lead.

Six minutes into the first quarter, the Utes found the end zone for a touchdown after a 2-yard run by running back Zack Moss. It gave the Utes their first and only lead of the night.

Stanford regained the lead after quarterback Keller Chryst scrambled 7 yards for the Cardinal’s first rushing touchdown of the night.

Throughout the second and third quarters, both teams took turns kicking field goals after defensive stops. Matt Gay for the Utes tied the ballgame after nailing a 30-yarder late in the second. Toner struck back with a 46-yarder to regain the lead (13-10) with only six seconds left before halftime. Toner then hit a 29-yard field goal to put the game at 16-10 early in the third. After going three-and-out, Gay hit another 30-yard field goal to make it a 3-point game again.

Four minutes into the fourth quarter, Cardinal star running back Bryce Love burst into the end zone with a 68-yard run for a touchdown for a 23-13 lead. With time running out, Utah scored late in the fourth with 44 seconds left after quarterback Troy Williams found wide receiver Darren Carrington II on an 18-yard pass. The Utes were back, trailing by three (23-20). The Utes attempted an onside kick to regain possession, but failed to recover the football. Stanford then did a victory formation to end the ballgame, giving the Utes their first loss of the season.

Three stars

Darren Carrington

Carrington was Williams’ safety blanket at wide receiver, leading the team with seven catches for 99 yards and one touchdown. The touchdown came at the last-minute in the fourth to keep it a close game and a chance for the Utes to either tie or go for the win.

Zach Moss/Devonta'e Henry-Cole

The running game for the Utes was solid throughout the game. Both Moss and Henry-Cole rushed for a combined 134 yards and one touchdown. Henry-Cole averaged 7.9 yards per carry. His highest run was a 31-yard run that set up an opportunity to score on offense.

Sunia Tauteoli

The Utes’ defense did all it could to contain Love, and did well by only giving him 66 yards throughout the first three quarters before he made a huge run for 68 yards for a touchdown. The defense was led by linebacker Tauteoli. The senior finished with 11 tackles, including four total tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.

Analyzing stats

It was a defensive effort all night for both teams. Even though Love rushed for 152 yards, it was a season-low for the junior back. The Utes had plenty of opportunities to tie the game or gain the lead. The Utes had 32:32 time of possession, while Stanford had 27:23.

Gay’s kicking streak came to an end after missing a 50-yarder. An uncalled running into the kicker penalty by the Cardinal special teams after the missed attempt was a controversial call, at least from the Utah fans’ standpoint.

Williams was not at his best Saturday night. Despite completing 51 percent of his passes, he had a quarterback rating of 37.3 and was under pressure the majority of the night due to Stanford’s pass rushers. It all went downhill when the senior threw two back-to-back interceptions in the fourth quarter. Two Stanford defensive players were ejected following a targeting call on Williams late with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Up next

The Utes are looking to bounce back after a tough loss against Stanford. It won’t come easy as Utah will be on the road to face USC at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. The Utes are 4-1 (1-1 in the Pac-12) for the season. USC, also 4-1 (3-1 in the Pac-12), is coming off a 38-10 victory over Oregon State. The Trojans' only lost came from Washington State. The rest of their wins came from Western Michigan, Stanford, Texas and California.

The Utes’ defense will be battle-tested again, going up against Sam Darnold and his explosive offense. The star quarterback has completed 64.8 of his passes, throwing for 1,705 yards and 12 touchdowns. The game will be on Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. MDT on ABC.