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3 takeaways from No. 24 Utah’s 38-29 win over Arizona

SHARE 3 takeaways from No. 24 Utah’s 38-29 win over Arizona
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AP

It certainly was not pretty, but No. 24 Utah did enough to beat 1-9 Arizona 38-29 Saturday to improve to 7-3 overall and 6-1 in Pac-12 play.

Cam Rising threw for 294 yards and two touchdowns and TJ Pledger rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns.

Here are three takeaways from the Utes’ win.

Penalties on key downs hurt Utes

Utah had eight penalties for 85 yards on Saturday, with the defense having four of those for 50 yards.

Three of those penalties came on third down after Utah had already gotten the stop.

True freshman Cole Bishop, who ended up having a good game, had a personal foul on 3rd and 8 with 11:13 left in second quarter after an incomplete pass that extended the drive, but Arizona did not end up scoring on that drive, turning the ball over on downs.

Bishop had a roughing the passer penalty later in the second quarter with 4:10 remaining, on 3rd down again when the Utes had stopped the Wildcats. That drive ended in a field goal that put Arizona up 17-14.

Junior Tafuna had a facemask penalty when the Utes stopped Will Plummer on 3rd and 7 from Arizona’s 23-yard line late in the third quarter. The penalty resulted in a first down, and the drive resulted in a field goal that cut Utah’s lead to eight points.

Devin Kaufusi also had a roughing the passer penalty in the fourth quarter that wasn’t as consequential as the others because it was 2nd down in the Utah red zone, but it still added to the rough night penalty-wise for the Utes.

Utah gets a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown ... again

After getting a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown in a loss to Oregon State and getting another blocked in that same game that ended up not counting because the Beavers had two players wearing the same number on the field, Utah’s special teams woes continued against Arizona on Saturday.

The Utes elected to do “quick kicks” with Cam Rising punting the ball against UCLA because of a lack of confidence in the punt team, but against Arizona, Michael Williams had three punts.

One was close to being blocked, and then with 10:41 left in the fourth quarter with Utah up eight, another actually was blocked.

The Wildcats sold out to block the punt and took advantage of a poor blocking effort by the Utes, as two Wildcats blocked the punt and Rhedi Shorts scooped the ball for a touchdown.

Arizona cut the Utes’ lead to two with the touchdown, but the two-point conversion failed.

It was another failure by the special teams in a season that’s had a lot of them.

Cam Rising turns in a good performance

Utah quarterback Cam Rising had one of his best performances of the season, throwing for 294 yards and two touchdowns.

He was 19-for-30 with no interceptions.

Rising made a number of big plays, connecting with TJ Pledger for a 43-yard gain and Brant Kuithe and Britain Covey each for a 29-yard gain.

His two touchdown passes, a 2-yarder to Kuithe and a 17-yarder to Dalton Kincaid, were right on the money.

Rising threw it nine times on third down, converting on six of them. He also ran for 22 yards and an 11-yard touchdown run.

Rising’s performance was key in the Utes’ win.