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Utah Utes: Top 10 Moments Of The Decade

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As the decade nears the end, there have been a lot of moments in Utah athletics history that will always be remembered.

From the best wins to best performances and everything in between, it was a memorable 10 years for the Utes.

Here is the top 10 moments from the last 10 years (plus some honorable mentions) in Utah athletics history.

Honorable Mentions

Devontae Booker Carries Utah To Double OT Win Over Oregon State

Utes running back Devontae Booker had one of the best performances of his college career on October 16, 2014. No. 20 Utah squared off with Oregon State in Corvallis and it was a nail-biter. The first three quarters was a field goal fest with Andy Phillips making three and Oregon State nailing two of their own as the Utes held a 9-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Oregon State took the lead with a 72-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sean Mannion to Jordan Villamin early in the final period. With four minutes left in the game, Booker ran in a touchdown from one-yard away to give the Utes a three-point lead. As time expired, Oregon State made a field goal to tie the score at the end of regulation.

The overtime periods was Booker’s time to shine. He started the extra period with a 15-yard touchdown run before Villamin caught another touchdown from Mannion to send the game to double overtime. In the second overtime, the Beavers had the ball first and was only able to gain five yards before attempting a 37-yard field goal that was missed. All that Utah needed to do was score any kind of points to win the game. On first down, Booker ran the ball for a two-yard gain before a 4-yard run on second down. At the 19-yard line on third and four, Booker busted out a touchdown run to seal the win for the Utes.

Booker ran the ball 32 times for 229 yards and three touchdowns, two scores came in overtime. The Utes had 315 yards of total offense and Booker accounted for 229. Utah improved their record to 5-1 and 2-1 in conference play. They finished the season with a 9-4 record and a win over Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Joe Williams Runs All Over UCLA

It was a matchup between the Utes and Bruins in the Rose Bowl on October 22, 2016. In a high-scoring contest, the Utes used the legs of their running back Joe Williams, who returned from retirement, just weeks prior, to carry the team to victory. Utah took a 14-0 lead in their first five plays on offense and special teams. Cory Butler-Byrd returned a kickoff 99-yards for a touchdown to start the game before Williams ran in a three-yard touchdown. UCLA scored 21 unanswered to end the first quarter with a 21-14 lead.

In the second quarter, it was all Utah with two field goals from Andy Phillips and Williams’ second touchdown, this time on a 43-yard run. The Utes took a 27-21 advantage into the halftime break. UCLA started the third quarter with a touchdown in just 1:30 to re-take the lead. Utah quarterback Troy Williams answered with a two-yard touchdown run before UCLA threw a 75-yard touchdown to get the lead back with 9 minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Phillips nailed his third field goal of the game and Joe Williams busted out a 64-yard touchdown run to give the Utes a 45-35 lead entering the fourth quarter. UCLA kicked a field goal to trim the deficit to one touchdown before Williams put the game away with a 55-yard touchdown. The Bruins managed to score one touchdown with under five minutes left in the game, but the Utes took home the victory, 52-45 and improved their record to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference.

Williams finished with 29 carries for 332 yards and 4 touchdowns. He set the school record for the most rushing yards in a game, a record that still stands today. Between the Utes and Bruins, they combined for 1,049 yards (Utah 539, UCLA 510) of total offense, Utah had 360 rushing yards and the Bruins had 464 passing yards. The Utes intercepted four passes and recovered one fumble.

Utah went on to finish the season with a 9-4 overall record and a 5-4 mark in the Pac-12 and beat Indiana in the Fosters Farms Bowl.

Runnin’ Utes Stun Duke At Madison Square Garden

The Utes had a great opportunity to beat a blue-blood college basketball program at their home away from home. The Duke Blue Devils played most of their neutral site games at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Duke was ranked No. 7 in the country with a 9-1 record, while the Utes were unranked and 8-2 on the season. Duke had four players that are currently in the NBA and the Utes had two.

The Utes outscored the Blue Devils 33-30 in the first half. Utah controlled the first part of the second half before Duke went on a run and had a 51-44 lead with 9:45 left in the second half and held onto the advantage and led 57-51 with 5:46 left. Kyle Kuzma tied the game with a layup with 1:50 remaining. That was the last time that either team scored to end regulation.

In overtime, the Utes scored five unanswered with a three-pointer by Brandon Taylor and a jumper from Poeltl. Utah stretched the lead to 69-63 after a layup from Poeltl with 2:25 left in overtime. Neither team scored for 1:22 before Duke made a pair of free throws. With 39 seconds left, Jordan Loveridge was fouled and made both free throws to put the Utes up 71-65. Loveridge and Dakarai Tucker made free throws down the stretch and sealed the 77-75 win for the Utes.

Utah’s previous win on a neutral court against a ranked team was against No. 20 Illinois when the Utes picked up a 60-58 win in Las Vegas. Obviously, since this game, the Runnin’ Utes knocked off then-No. 6 Kentucky last week in Las Vegas. The last time that Utah beat a top 10 team before the win at MSG was one year before that when they knocked off No. 8 Wichita State, 69-68 in overtime at home on December 3, 2014. Before those two games, the last time that Utah had knocked off a top 10 team was when they beat No. 10 Oregon State, 68-62 at home on November 26, 1982.

The Utes won the game despite turning the ball over 19 times and Duke had just 5 miscues. Utah shot 45 percent from the field, while Duke made 30 percent of their field goal attempts. Kuzma led the Utes with 21 points and 8 rebounds, Poeltl added 19 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks, Lorenzo Bonam chipped in 12 points and 9 assists.

Utah finished the season with a 27-9 overall record and 13-5 in Pac-12 play. They reached the conference tournament championship game and lost to Oregon, but beat Fresno State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to Gonzaga in the second round.

10. Hunter Dimick Leads Utah Sack-Fest To Win Over Sun Devils

Entering the 2016 season, the Utes have never won in Tempe against the Sun Devils since joining the Pac-12. That all changed with Utah’s pass rush led by the second “Mayor of Sack Lake City” Hunter Dimick as he set a school record for the most sacks in a single game with 5. It’s a record that still stands today. The 13th ranked Utes defeated Arizona State 49-26 on November 10, 2016.

Utah’s defense held Arizona State to 41 rushing yards. ASU QB Manny Wilkins had 309 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and was sacked 9 times. As a team, Utah picked up 11 sacks, 5 by Dimick, 3 by Pita Taumoepenu, one from both Lowell Lotuelei and Bradlee Anae and one by a group (more than one player).

On the offensive side of the ball, Troy Williams threw for 296 yards and 4 touchdowns, Joe Williams racked up 181 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and Raelon Singleton hauled in 116 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Utes lost their last two games after the win over ASU, but beat Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl to finish the season with a 9-4 record.

9. Booker, Utah Defense Takes Down Goff, Cal With College Gameday In Town

It was the last time that ESPN’s College Gameday came to town. It was No. 5 Utah against No. 23 California at Rice Eccles Stadium on October 11, 2015. The Utes had an opportunity to showcase themselves in primetime against the eventual No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft in Cal quarterback Jared Goff.

Utah running back Devontae Booker had another outstanding performance, racking up 222 rushing yards and two touchdowns, along with 4 receptions for 45 yards. The Utes’ defense took care of Goff, forcing him to throw five interceptions. He finished with 340 passing yards and two touchdowns along with the picks. Dominique Hatfield had two interceptions, along with a pick from Gionni Paul, Marcus Williams and Justin Thomas.

8. Brandon Burton Blocks BYU’s Chances Of Win At RES

One of the best moments of the decade happened in the first year of the 2010’s. The No. 20 Utes and the BYU Cougars squared off for the last time as conference foes. The Cougars jumped out to a 13-0 lead before the Utes scored for the first time on a field goal with 14:56 left in the game. Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn found wide receiver DeVonte Christopher for a 37-yard touchdown to trim the deficit to 3 points.

BYU nailed another field goal to extend their advantage to 6 with 7:38 remaining. Utah took the lead with 4:24 left in the game when Matt Asiata ran in a three-yard touchdown. BYU had a chance to win the game if they made a field goal with four seconds on the clock. Utes defensive back Brandon Burton was able to get around the edge and block the field goal to seal the 17-16 win over BYU.

7. Utes Get First Signature Pac-12 Win

The Utes were still adjusting to life in the Pac-12 entering the 2013 season. Before they faced No. 5 Stanford, Utah had a 7-13 conference record. On October 12, 2013 Utah had a chance to take down a top-five team at home and get their first signature win in the conference.

Stanford started the game with a one-yard touchdown run by Tyler Gaffney, but the Utes answered with a four-yard touchdown catch by Karl Williams. Ty Montgomery returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown midway through the opening quarter. Utah didn’t waver though as quarterback Travis Wilson connected with wide receiver Dres Anderson for a 51-yard touchdown to tie the game before the end of the first quarter.

The Utes took their first lead of the game in the second quarter as Anderson ran in a touchdown from three-yards out and that was the only score in the second period, Utah took a 21-14 lead into the halftime break.

The third quarter was low-scoring with kicker Andy Phillips scoring the only points on a field goal late in the period to put Utah up 24-14 at the start of the fourth quarter. Early in the final period, Phillips made another field goal to extend the Utes lead to 27-14. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan threw a touchdown pass five minutes later to bring the Cardinal within one point.

Late in the game, Stanford was trucking down the field and was at the Utah six-yard line with 51 seconds left. On fourth and goal, Hogan threw an incomplete pass in the end zone to give the Utes a 27-21 win over Stanford.

Wilson threw for 234 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. Bubba Poole ran for 111 yards for the Utes.

6. Utah Stops BYU’s Major Comeback In Las Vegas

It was supposed to be a two-year hiatus in the Utah/BYU rivalry with the Utes scheduling a home-and-home series with Michigan. The game wasn’t played in 2014, but in 2015 the two teams met in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Utes defense had a tremendous start to the game as they forced a BYU turnover in their first five possessions on offense.

Utah started with a one-yard touchdown run by Joe Williams before safety Tevin Carter returned a Tanner Mangum interception for a touchdown. Williams had another one-yard run followed by a pick-six by Dominique Hatfield and a 20-yard touchdown run by Travis Wilson had Utah up 35-0 at the end of the first quarter. Mangum threw three interceptions and the Cougars had two fumbles.

BYU stormed back after that run and slowly chipped away at the lead and trailed 35-28 before Utah’s defense held off the Cougars. Wilson had just 71 passing yards, Williams rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

5. Bradlee Anae Is New Mayor Of ‘Sack Lake City’

On senior night at Rice Eccles Stadium on November 30, 2019, Utah defensive end Bradlee tied the school record for the most career sacks with 29.5, along with Hunter Dimick. Against the Buffaloes, Anae needed two sacks to break the record. He managed to tie the record with 1.5 sacks in the Utes 45-15 win over Colorado. Entering the bowl game against Texas, Anae has 12.5 sacks this season, which is ranked second in the Pac-12.

4. Utes Stun Ducks In Eugene

On September 26, 2015, it was one of the most unexpected games that we have seen from Utah football. The 18th ranked Utes traveled to Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon to face the 13th ranked Ducks. Utah had a 4-0 record and Oregon was 2-2.

The Utes started with two field goals by Andy Phillips before Oregon running back Royce Freeman for a 13-yard touchdown run, but after the failed two-point conversion, the game was tied at 6 at the end of the opening period. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson threw a 26-yard touchdown to Britain Covey and a 7-yard TD to Kenneth Scott to give the Utes a 20-6 lead. Oregon answered with a touchdown with 4 minutes left until halftime. Wilson found tight end Caleb Repp for a 9-yard score before halftime with the Utes taking 27-13 lead.

Utah blew the doors off of the Ducks in the third quarter with four unanswered touchdowns that included a two-yard run by Wilson, Devontae Booker throwing a 25-yard score to Covey, Wilson finding Repp for a 16-yard touchdown and a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown by Boobie Hobbs.

We also can’t forget a fake punt by Tom Hackett that he ran for 33-yards and a first down.

In the fourth quarter Kendal Thompson ran in a 6-yard touchdown before Oregon finally scored for the final time. The Utes left Oregon with a 62-20 win. Wilson threw for 227 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 100 rushing yards and another score. Booker had 98 yards on the ground and a passing touchdown.

3. Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl Lead Runnin’ Utes To Sweet 16

The Runnin’ Utes had the best season under head coach Larry Krystkowiak back in 2014-15. It was the first time that the Utes made the NCAA Tournament since 2008-09. They finished the regular season with a 26-9 record and 13-5 in Pac-12 play. Utah reached the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament, ultimately losing to Oregon. They received a No. 5 seed in the south region and would face No. 12 Stephen F. Austin in Portland, Oregon.

Utah beat the Lumberjacks 57-50 to advance to the second round against No. 4 Georgetown. Jakob Poeltl led the Utes with 18 points and 8 rebounds, Jordan Loveridge added 12 points and Delon Wright chipped in 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals.

Against the Hoyas, the Utes had five players score in double figures, led by Brandon Taylor with 14, Wright and Poeltl each had 12 points, Dakari Tucker posted 11 points off the bench and Loveridge scored 10 points. Utah advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005 with a 75-64 win over Georgetown.

Utah moved on to face No. 1 seed Duke in Houston, Texas. But the magical run for the Runnin’ Utes came to an end as the Blue Devils pulled out the 63-57 win. Taylor scored 15 points for the Utes, while Wright and Poeltl each added 10 points. For Duke, Justise Winslow scored 21 points.

2. Zack Moss Breaks School Rushing Records

The 2019 season was one to remember in Utah football history. Not just the 11-win season heading into the Alamo Bowl and the back-to-back trips to the Pac-12 Championship. But, the amazing display that fans were able to witness from running back Zack Moss.

This season, Moss has broken six career rushing records, which includes most career 100-yard rushing games, rushing touchdowns, rushing yards, total touchdowns, most 1,000 yard rushing seasons and rushing attempts.

Moss will go down as the greatest running back in Utah football history.

1. Utah’s First Season In The Pac-12

On August 19, 2011, the University of Utah declared it “Pac-12 Day.” That was the moment that Utah officially joined the Pac-12 Conference. It changed the way that the Utes competed in college athletics. Making the move from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12 has given Utah the ability to upgrade their facilities, recruit the best athletes and compete with the best teams in college sports.

The Crimson Corner podcast is the one-stop for all things University of Utah Athletics hosted by Utah insider Trevor Allen. Ute fans will find interviews with current players, coaches, and staff alongside expert analysis of every game, story and angle coming out of the University of Utah.

You can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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