Utah Utes Upset No. 14 Stanford, Win First Conference Game

Oct 7, 2018, 12:36 AM | Updated: Oct 10, 2018, 8:40 pm
Utah Utes wide receiver Samson Nacua (45) makes a catch and run for a touchdown as Utah goes on to ...
Utah Utes wide receiver Samson Nacua (45) makes a catch and run for a touchdown as Utah goes on to defeat Stanford 40-21 in Palo Alto, California, on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. (Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)
(Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

PALO ALTO, Calif. – The University of Utah rolled into Stanford and pulled out a 40-21 upset win over the Cardinal, using their physical and aggressive defense and a balanced offense.

Utah dominated both sides of the football, rushing for 222 yards and added 199 passing yards. The defense held serve, keeping Stanford to 42 yards on the ground and forced four turnovers.

Quarterback Tyler Huntley played arguably his best game as a Ute, completing 17 of his 21 passes for 199 yards and one touchdown. Running back Zack Moss tallied a season high 160 rushing yards for two touchdowns on 20 carries.

Stanford played without star running back Bryce Love who was out with an ankle injury, that he re-injured in their previous game against Notre Dame.

The Cardinal relied on quarterback K.J. Costello, who threw for 381 yards. He had three main targets that racked up 100 receiving yards that included tight end Kaden Smith (120 yards), Wide receivers J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (103 yards) and Trenton Irwin (100 yards).

Strong Start

Utah scored two touchdowns on offense, both from Zack Moss. While receiving a big lift from sophomore cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who intercepted a pass from Costello in their end zone and returned the pick 100-yards for a touchdown.

Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham loved the play by Johnson.

“He is a tremendously gifted athlete, that was a great call by (Morgan) Scalley,” he said.

Utah led 24-7 at the half when kicker Matt Gay nailed a 48-yard field goal as time expired.

Carrying The Momentum

The Utes had five drives on offense in the second half, scoring three field goals and one passing touchdown. The pass was a big play as Huntley scrambled out of the pocket after being rushed by the Stanford defense, throwing the ball deep just as he was being tackled and connected with wide receiver Samson Nacua for 57 yards.

Whittingham loved how productive the offense was against Stanford.

“Total team effort, offense put up good numbers and took care of the football.”

Big Pac-12 Win

Coming into the game with an 0-2 record in Pac-12 play, Utah was in a must win situation if they wanted to keep their Pac-12 championship hopes alive.

“Proud of our guys, been a couple of tough losses (past two games),” Whittingham added. “We needed that.”

Utah has thrived in Palo Alto, winning all four of their matchups all-time at Stanford Stadium. The win on Saturday gives Utah some light in the Pac-12 race, with Colorado sitting at the top of the South Division at 2-0 with USC and Arizona both at 2-1.

The Utes are 3-2 overall, 1-2 in the conference and will return home to Rice Eccles Stadium on Friday to face Arizona at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

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