Football: Utes’ fourth quarter rally falls short in 17-9 loss to UCLA

vsUCLA014 Emily Juchau

Players looked devastated as they walked to the locker room after Utah’s loss to UCLA, 17-9, especially since with the loss, their hopes of winning the Pac-12 South are long gone.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham thinks it was a pretty even game, but in the end he knows his team could not take advantage of the moment.

Utah QB Travis Wilson trying to rush through on Saturday, Nov 21, 2015. Photo by Chris Ayers

Utah QB Travis Wilson trying to rush through on Saturday, Nov 21, 2015. Photo by Chris Ayers

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done,” Whittingham said. “If you lose and it doesn’t hurt, you got the wrong guys. They’re hurt and disappointed. When you put everything you got into something and lose, it hurts.”

The Utes had a chance to tie up the game on its final drive — Travis Wilson rushed on a fourth down and, after scrambling around in the backfield, eventually got it. But it was on the next set of downs when Wilson again took the ball — only this time he fumbled it, with 1:46 left to play. UCLA jumped on the ball to seal the deal.

Wilson finished the game 13-of-26 on passing with 110 yards, to go with 18 carries for 67 rushing yards. Joe Williams, who was filling in for an injured Devontae Booker, had 26 carries for 121 yards and four catches for 31 yards. Williams also fumbled the ball early in the game.

UCLA RB Paul Perkins tries to get through Utah's defense on Saturday, Nov 21, 2015. Photo by Chris Ayers

UCLA RB Paul Perkins tries to get through Utah’s defense on Saturday, Nov 21, 2015. Photo by Chris Ayers

Reggie Porter and Britain Covey were both injured in the first quarter, and although Covey tried to keep playing, both were forced to sit out the rest of the game.

However, what the game really came down to was scoring. Whenever the Utes made it down the field, they could only score field goals, whereas the Bruins capped off two of their drives with touchdowns.

Andy Phillips nailed three field goals, and although he put nine points on the board, he says this loss is hard because of all the hours the team invested during practice.

“Difficult when you have something in your grasp and you let it slip away,” Phillips said. “To have an outcome like this definitely hurts.”

Utah kicked the ball to the Bruins to open the game up and pinned them at the 13-yard line. However, UCLA got rolling and after a couple of deep passes from freshman quarterback Josh Rosen, the Bruins put points on the board to go up 7-0.

WR Kenneth Scott unable to complete the pass on Saturday, Nov 21, 2015. Photo by Chris Ayers

WR Kenneth Scott unable to complete the pass on Saturday, Nov 21, 2015. Photo by Chris Ayers

“Disappointing to let them have that touchdown drive right out of the gate,” Whittingham said.

As Utah was driving down the field, Travis Wilson threw an interception, only for it to be saved by a pass interference call on the defense. When the Utes were in the red zone, however, Williams fumbled the ball and UCLA fell on top of it.

In the second quarter, when the Utes were driving down the field, they gambled on a fourth down and went for it. Wilson was sacked on the play, but the Bruins were called for holding, keeping the drive alive. However, Utah could not find the end zone and settled for just three points.

Later in the first half, Utah made its way down the field behind Wilson’s run game, which continued to find gaps and holes to break through. The Utes eventually scored another field goal to make the score 10-6 heading into the half.

Opening up the second half, Utah used the read-option to its advantage and had plenty of rushes for first downs. Whether it was Williams or Wilson running, they were moving the ball down the field for the Utes. They made it to the two-yard line but were unable to cross the plane, and again Phillips was brought out to for the field goal to make it a one-point game at 10-9.

UCLA answered back on its next drive, but when the Bruins got to the two-yard line, they scored a touchdown to extend their lead to 17-9.

Even with the loss, junior defensive end Kylie Fitts is staying positive and thinks his teammates gave it all they had.

“It’s tough, but I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Fitts said. “It’s hard, but we’re going to move on, and we’re going to finish this strong.”

k.brenneisen@dailyutahchronicle.com

@kbrenneisen