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Highlights, key plays and photos from Utah’s 44-24 win over UCLA

Utah Utes offensive linemen Bamidele Olaseni and Nick Ford lead the team walk out of smoke
Utah Utes offensive linemen Bamidele Olaseni (77) and Nick Ford (55) lead the team walk out before the game at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.
Adam Fondren for the Deseret News

Utah took full control of the Pac-12 South, beating UCLA 44-24 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Tavion Thomas rushed for four touchdowns and 160 yards to lead the Utes to an important win. Utah is now 4-1 in Pac-12 play, and with Arizona State’s loss to Washington State on Saturday, Utah is two games up on the Sun Devils — the Utes hold the tiebreaker over ASU — with four games to play.

End of game

Utah scored early in the quarter when Cam Rising kept the ball for a 12-yard touchdown run to push Utah’s lead to 34-17.

UCLA responded with a touchdown drive of its own, as Ethan Garbers found Greg Dulcich for a 9-yard touchdown run to cut Utah’s lead to 35-24.

UCLA forced a Utah 4th-and-1 from the Bruins’ 49-yard line. The Utes lined up as if they were going to go for it, then Rising backed up and punted it — Rising’s second pooch punt of the game — which pinned the Bruins at the six-yard line.

Down by 11 with 7:23 remaining, UCLA started from the six-yard line on a crucial drive, but on the Bruins’ first play, Hauati Pututau sacked Garbers in the end zone for a safety, all but sealing the Utes’ win.

The victory for the Utes was further cemented when Tavion Thomas scored his fourth touchdown of the game to give Utah a 44-24 lead.

End of 3rd Quarter

The scoring output has slowed considerably in the third quarter after a high-scoring first half.

UCLA had the lone score of the half on a 6-yard pass from Chase Garbers to Michael Ezeike, capping a 91-yard drive that featured a 41-yard pass and a 27-yard pass on the drive. Garbers is looking more comfortable in the third quarter than he was in the first half.

UCLA’s defense is playing much better. The Bruins have been able to slow down Utah’s run game a little bit and held Utah to no points in the quarter, though the Utes are driving to end the quarter.

Halftime

Utah’s offense is just clicking.

Five drives in the first half for the Utes, with four touchdowns. All of Utah’s touchdown drives have been 10 plays or less.

Utah scored three touchdowns in the second quarter, with two of them coming via a Tavion Thomas rush. Thomas has been excellent, rushing for 63 yards and three scores. TJ Pledger also contributed four rubs for 41 yards, including a 30-yard run.

Utah’s offensive line has played well, especially on Thomas’s last touchdown run, when the line flattened UCLA and created a huge hole for Thomas.

Cam Rising is 8-for-14 for 92 yards and a touchdown. He has also run for 33 yards.

The Utes racked up 238 yards of offense in the first half.

After allowing a score early in the second quarter after missing multiple tackles on Zach Charbonnet’s touchdown run, Utah’s defense got off the field on three consecutive drives. Nephi Sewell had an interception, the Utes forced a three-and-out on the next drive and then Utah forced a missed 55-yard field goal to end the half.

Plus, Utah gains Devin Lloyd, who missed the first half due to a targeting penalty in the second half of the Oregon State game, for the second half.

End of 1st Quarter

On its first drive of the game, Utah’s offense drove right down the field for a touchdown. Utah went 75 yards in an efficient nine plays. Utah quarterback Cam Rising targeted Britain Covey and Brant Kuithe often on the drive, including an 11-yard pass to Covey to get the Utes in the red zone. Tavion Thomas had three rushes on that drive and scored the touchdown for the Utes.

UCLA, quarterbacked by backup Ethan Garbers in place of the injured Dorian Thompson-Robinson, had an extended 16-play drive, including converting a fourth-down.

Utah held strong in the red zone, not allowing UCLA to gain a yard once the Bruins had first down from the 9-yard line. A miscommunication between the center and Garbers on 3rd-and-10 from the 10-yard line meant the Bruins had to settle for field goal.

Pregame prep

Here are a few stories to get you ready for the game.