Pawn helps Utah rally with Washington 24-13
TJ Pledger rushed for 117 yards and the go-ahead touchdown as Utah came back from behind to beat Washington State 24-13 on Saturday afternoon in the Utes Pac-12 opener.
Pledger, a transfer from Oklahoma who had just 11 yards going before the game, ran 20 yards for a touchdown with 4:53 to go.
“After the game, I held my daughter in my arms and had tears in my eyes. College football is not easy, you go through ups and downs, and those who are able to stay stable and continue to do their best every day, end up being successful, ”said Pledger, who had all his yards. in the second half after the start of the starter Micah Bernard with an upper body injury.
Clark Phillips caught a 54-yard interception for a score to clinch it with 2:19 to go.
The Cougars (1-3, 0-2 Pac-12) forced seven fumbles, recovering three, with at least two others saved by replay. The last one came with 10:18 to go when Daniel Isom punched Chris Curry just before he crossed the goal line and Travion Brown recovered in the end zone.
WSU players were dealing with more than what went between the lines. Early Saturday morning near the WSU campus, one person was killed and Brandon Gray, a junior receiver, was also shot and is in serious but stable condition. The news shook the travel team who were already in Salt Lake City.
“We have so much respect for this team for the way they played. I know we didn’t win. I know we weren’t great. But for them to come out and play as hard as they did with the news they got this morning about their teammate, I think it’s a tribute to their character. All we can do right now is pray for Gray, ”WSU coach Nick Rolovich said.
Jarrett Guarantano had 25 of 36 passes for 248 yards, but struggled to move the Cougars’ offense in the second half.
Rolovich called the offense “quite anemic”.
Meanwhile, the Utes (2-2, 1-0) shed their dropped fingers and made all the big plays in the fourth quarter. Before the Utah offense moved, the defense kept the Utes in the game with eight sacks and three interceptions.
“The defense played unreal. They did their job and then it was just on the offensive to hold their end of the bargain, ”Utah quarterback Cameron Rising said.
Devin Lloyd, who had also lost three tackles, jumped a bubble screen and intercepted Gaurantano’s pass after knocking it down. But substitute QB Ja’Quinden Jackson missed two games later and Jaylon Watson recovered for the Cougars on their 8-yard line.
On the first play of the second half, Ron Stone Jr. kicked the ball off Micah Bernard of Utah and Christian Mejia recovered. Two games later, Guarantano joined De’Zhaun Stribling for a 26-yard touchdown and a 13-7 lead.
After back-to-back losses, former Utah QB starter Charlie Brewer learned he had been demoted and left the program on Monday.
Rising, who had 137 passing yards, got his first start since last season’s opener against Southern Cal when he injured his shoulder in the first quarter. Despite finishing strong to force triple overtime last week at San Diego State, the Utes once again struggled to move the ball through the air with just 26 passing yards at halftime.
For the first time this season, the Utes have brought in additional assistants, but that left the midfield open for WSU. Adjustments in the second half and a stronger rush negated any chance of Cougar’s return.
“We had it after the quarterback which is a plus because we haven’t done a lot of that this year and we’ve done a really good job with eight sacks. It’s a complete turnaround, ”said Whittingham.
Whittingham also said that in addition to losing three defensive starters last week, the Utes suffered three safety injuries in that game – Vonte Davis, Brandon McKinney and Cole Bishop. “We had no more security than the two who finished it,” he said.
Utah’s only goal practice in the first half was all the rush play – highlighted by Rising’s 31-yard scamper and capped by Jackson’s 2-yard TD run.
Britain Covey broke the school career punt return distance record and now has 902 yards.
Take it away
Washington State: The Cougars dominated possession time but only gained 106 yards in the second period. Max Borghi had 42 rushing yards before starting in the second quarter with a left arm injury and the WSU rushing attack struggled the rest of the way while Guarantano was under constant pressure. Right tackle Abraham Lucas said: “I think the most important thing was the lack of focus up front. Bad things have happened.
Utah: Ute’s offense still doesn’t look like a well-oiled machine, but Utah hit 248 yards in the second half and was bolstered by another strong defensive performance. “We wasted a lot of opportunities, for sure. We’ve had fumbles, chances to score in the red zone where we haven’t capitalized and so there’s a lot we need to work on, ”said Whittingham.
Washington State: Cougars play in California on Saturday
Utah: The Utes are off next week before heading to USC on October 9.