Saturday night in Salt Lake City, the Oregon Ducks took to the field against the Utah Utes, in a key Pac-12 matchup. Utah had the opportunity to upset the Ducks and crush their college playoff aspirations.
The game started out on what one would think to be equal footing, with Utah set to gain a t touchdown, 14 point lead early in the first quarter. Quarterback Kendal Thompson started out on the field for the Utes and was making all the right connections with sharp, short passes but succumbed to an injury in the first quarter.
Travis Wilson, who ended the night with 297 yards and two touchdowns stepped up in the quarterback position for the Utes. Things were looking hopeful for Utah as Wilson connected with senior wide receiver Kaelin Clay on a deep pass. Clay was making good time into the end zone when just before crossing the plane, he dropped the ball (metaphorically and literally).
The ball sat idle for a few seconds, no ref blowing his whistle to indicate that the ball was dead, so Oregon’s Joe Walker picked it up before running into traffic headed back to the Utes’ end zone. Walker was quick to grab it and flew down the field with ease, tying up the score, shocking the Utes fans to silence and giving the Ducks the right amount of momentum to send them sailing through the rest of the game.
Though the Utes trailed the Ducks they came within three points early on in the fourth quarter, almost to indicate all hope was not lost. But, the Ducks came back to score 21 more points making the final score 51-27 .
Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota was having a slow night, all things considered. He threw for three touchdowns and ran in another. He ran for 114 yards and was 17 for 29 for 239 yards passing. Not exactly a shining, bright game that we’ve come to expect from Mariota, but few points of criticism. He still led the offense on an incredible march down Rice-Eccles field, securing the Ducks a spot in the Pac-12 championship game by clinching the North.
The workhorse of the Utah Utes’ offense, Devontae Booker, was the real stud of the game. On the receiving end of things he out up eight catches for 110 yards, which included a 27-yard touchdown with 3:38 to go in the third, closing the points gap between the two teams and keeping the Utes’ chances alive.
However, Utah just couldn’t get their act together. They played their hearts out and made a convincing argument, but the Ducks offense was able to overpower the Utes, the proud residents of “Sack Lake City,” who finished with four sacks against the Ducks.
Thompson, who left the field early in the first, returned without his uniform and coach Kyle Whittingham informed later that he would miss the rest of the year.
Oregon’s victory was also eclipsed by the loss of tight end Pharaoh Brown, who suffered a gruesome looking right leg injury in the fourth.
Oregon did an excellent job controlling the field on almost every drive, giving up the ball only once compared to Utah’s four turnovers. The Ducks are now on a five-game winning streak since their questionable loss to Arizona back in early October.
The Ducks have a bye-week after facing a string of tough Pac-12 teams, before they close out their season with contests against Oregon State and Colorado.
Utah, with a two game losing streak, will take on Stanford, Arizona and Colorado to finish their season, hoping to end with a strong record heading into the bowl games.
*Section Photo credit to Conor Barry, Daily Utah Chronicle; Featured Photo (above) credit to 247 Sports