Salt Lake City, Utah
November 13, 2011 by staff
Salt Lake City, Utah, A little snow provided a bit of a chill, but failed to cool down the Utah Utes. They prevailed for the third straight game Saturday night with a 31-6 victory over UCLA at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Besides improving to 6-4 overall and 3-4 in Pac-12 play, the Utes are now bowl eligible for the ninth consecutive season.
“I’m very proud of our guys and the way they’ve responded the last three weeks,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said while noting the ups and downs earlier in the season. “We seem to be developing a rhythm as a football team.”
The Utes, he continued, are more in-sync.
In their latest triumph, contributions were plentiful. Running back John White IV had another stellar outing with 167 yards rushing and three touchdowns (two on the ground). The Utes are 6-0 this season when he eclipses 100 yards.
“We got off the ball,” White said. “Our offensive line wanted it more than (UCLA’s) defensive line.”
Quarterback Jon Hays was efficient as the Utes extended their run of games without an interception or fumble on offense to three games. Utah is 13-of-14 in the red zone during that span.
“We’re doing things the right way offensively,” Whittingham said. “We’re not turning the ball over, very few penalties, we’re physical at the line of scrimmage running the football and that’s who were are.”
Utah’s defense held UCLA to a season-low in points. Safety Brian Blechen led the Utes with eight tackles and cornerback Conroy Black picked off two passes.
“The defense was outstanding and they’ve been outstanding the entire season,” Whittingham said. “They’re at the top or near the top of most defensive statistical categories for a reason.”
The Utes’ lone miscue against the Bruins came on special teams late in the first quarter. Griff McNabb fumbled a punt return and Isaiah Bowens recovered for UCLA on the Utah 17. The Bruins cashed in less than two minutes later when Tyler Gonzalez made a 30-yard field goal.
Trailing 3-0, Utah didn’t respond until 5:34 remained in the second quarter. That’s when White put the Utes ahead with a 1-yard touchdown run. Coleman Petersen added the first of four PATs in the game to make it 7-3.
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