EUGENE, Oregon — Early in the third quarter on Saturday night against Oregon, Utah needed a spark.
The Utes needed something — because they trailed the Ducks 17-3 after a tough first half.
Linebacker Karene Reid provided that spark.
The Ducks put backup quarterback Ty Thompson into the game to run a reverse play, but Oregon fumbled, Reid scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 11 yards into the end zone for a touchdown — the Utes’ first TD of the night.
That cut Utah’s deficit to 17-10 with 13:14 left in the period.
When the Utes tied the game at 17-apiece later in the quarter, it looked like Reid’s big touchdown could have been the turning point.
But in the end, the Ducks held on for a 20-17 victory.
“We tried to get as many stops as possible and get the ball back to the offense as many times as we could,” Reid said.
“Obviously we lost, so even if we played good, it still wasn’t good enough, so we have room for improvement.”
Utah held Oregon to 59 yards rushing, well below its average of 240.
Meanwhile, Reid was also involved in one of the game’s most controversial plays.
On the first play of the decisive fourth quarter, the Ducks faced fourth and 4 at the Utah 41. Quarterback Bo Nix completed a pass to Troy Franklin, who was close to the line to gain.
After a review, the officials awarded the Ducks a first down, which led to their game-winning, 41-yard field goal with 11:17 remaining.
Did Whittingham think Franklin got that first down?
“No, I don’t think he had it, but that’s my slanted opinion,” Whittingham said. “I thought we had them stopped, but apparently the replay could not confirm that.”