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Highlights, key plays and photos from Utah’s 24-13 win over Washington State

SHARE Highlights, key plays and photos from Utah’s 24-13 win over Washington State
Utah football team warms-up

Utah football team warms-up before they compete against Washington State before an NCAA college football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in Salt Lake City.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

In a game it turned the ball over three times and fumbled seven times, Utah was able to make key plays when it counted, coming up with a go-ahead touchdown and a pick-six in the fourth quarter to win its Pac-12 opener over Washington State, 24-13.

End of game

Clark Phillips III picked off Washington State quarterback Jarrett Guarantano and ran it 54 yards the other way for a Utah touchdown, putting the game out of reach. Utah’s defense allowed 318 yards, including 248 passing yards, but were able to stop the Cougars when it mattered, holding WSU to just 13 points despite being on the field for over 35 minutes. Utah’s defense was superb on third down, holding the Cougars to 4-of-15 on the key down 

Utah scored the go-ahead touchdown, finding the end zone for the first time since the second quarter, as TJ Pledger hit pay dirt from 20 yards out and — importantly — did not fumble. Utah went up 17-13 with 4:43 remaining. It was the exclamation point on an eight-play, 72-yard drive that featured two nice passes from Cam Rising.

In a truly unbelievable game, the Utes kept fumbling. Thanks to a great run by TJ Pledger, who had a nice stutter-step on a 59-yard gain, and a 7-yard run by Chris Curry, the Utes had the ball on the WSU one-yard line, but on the next play, Curry fumbled.

After Curry’s fumble, the Utes forced a 3-and-out, and — what else — Covey fumbled on the punt return but, mercifully for Utah, it went out of bounds. On the ensuing drive, Pledger scored a touchdown to put the Utes up for good.

End of 3rd Quarter

Utah’s special teams woes continue. The Utes’ poor red zone offense couldn’t score a touchdown, so Utah kicker Jadon Redding attempted a 31-yard field goal that would have tied the game, but he kicked it wide left.

Utah’s offense continues to fumble. And fumble. And fumble.

Make that five fumbles for the Utes, with two of those lost. It could be a lot worse, with at least two more fumbles negated because the player was ruled down first.

Devin Lloyd made the play of the game with an insanely athletic interception, tipping it to himself and giving the Utes great field position in the red zone, but that was negated by a Ja’Quinden Jackson fumble.

Micah Bernard fumbled the ball to start the third quarter. That fumble set up a touchdown from Washington State quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. WSU has been able to get whatever they want over the middle most of the game today.

Utah got lucky on the ensuing drive, as Cole Fotheringham looked to have coughed the ball up, but was ruled down. Cam Rising looked to have a miscommunication with Dalton Kincaid, who broke one way while Rising threw another way. On third down, Rising looked to have Theo Howard open for a second, but overthrew him, and the Utes had to settle for a field goal, which Redding made.


Utah has the lead at halftime despite being outgained 212-96 on offense through two quarters. Washington State has been able to move the ball easier than Utah — especially over the middle of the field — getting into the red zone three times, but the Utes have been able to hold the Cougars to just two field goals, thanks to red zone stands and an interception by Karene Reid. The defensive line is performing better than the last two weeks, with three sacks in the first half.

Cam Rising is 4-for-7 for 26 yards, with Micah Bernard rushing six times for 23 yards as the offense has struggled much of the game.

Cam Rising and Britain Covey were essential on the Utes’ lone touchdown drive, as Rising rushed for 31 yards, Covey gained 14 on a jet sweep, then backup quarterback Ja’Quinden Jackson scored on a designed run.

Utah’s offense needs to step it up in the second half, as the defense could start getting tired if the time of possession — 22 minutes for WSU, 8 minutes for Utah — stays on the same pace.

End of 1st Quarter

The quarter ends scoreless. Washington State was moving the ball much better than Utah, getting into Utes territory in both drives, but Utah’s defense was able to hold the Cougars scoreless — first on a fourth-down stop and then on an interception by Karene Reid.

Utah’s offense has struggled so far, with just 36 yards of offense. Quarterback Cam Rising and running back Micah Bernard have struggled with a couple handoffs, with one fumble and another near-fumble. Rising has missed tight end Brant Kuithe twice on third down.

Pregame prep

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