Utah Drops Home Finale to Oregon, 30-28

uvso2 Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle

A joyous visiting locker room and a somber home team, deprived of almost any chance of playing in the Rose Bowl.

The Utes were up 28-24 with 2:18 left to play. All the Utes needed to do was halt Oregon’s offense that had come to life in the second half, and they would be playing for a shot at the Pac-12 Championship game. The Ducks, who entered the game with a 3-7 record, had other plans, however.

The Ducks stormed down the field in those final two minutes and when Utah tried to force them to a third down, they found a way to move the chains. With two seconds left on the clock, the Ducks scored the final touchdown of the game to give Oregon a 30-28 lead and the win.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham takes responsibility for the loss, but he is disappointed how the game turned out.

“Couldn’t put a dagger in their heart when we need to,” Whittingham said. “It’s a shame we couldn’t take care of our business.”

Utah defensive back Justin Thomas goes in for a tackle on Oregon running back Royce Freeman during the first half of the Utes 30-28 loss against the Oregon Ducks at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Nov.19., 2016. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

Utah defensive back Justin Thomas goes in for a tackle on Oregon running back Royce Freeman during the first half of the Utes 30-28 loss against the Oregon Ducks at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Nov.19, 2016. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

Joe Williams broke 1,000 rushing yards for the season after his 149 yard output. Hunter Dimick set a Utah school record in sacks when he rcorded his 28th sack of his career, and he added his 29th later in the game. Troy Williams was 20-of-30 passing with 235 yards.

Utah got off on the right foot to open up the game. Oregon turned the ball over on downs and Utah took over at the 35 yard line. Troy Williams found Siaosi Wilson for a 16 yard gain, then Joe Williams had a 20 yard rush and Cory Butler-Byrd finished off the Utes’ first offensive drive by scoring a 24 yard rushing touchdown.

The Ducks would go on to score a field goal on their next possession to make the score 7-3. But things would move to a standstill from there.

Neither team was able to get anything going offensively in the second quarter until Troy Williams led the Utes down the field to Oregon’s 15 yard line. But the red zone struggles continued as Troy Williams fumbled the ball, and Oregon took over.

Oregon immediately burned Utah when Royce Freeman rushed for 28 yards to move the ball to Utah’s side of the field. However, Oregon missed a 31 yard field goal.

After some back and forth play to open up the second half, Troy Williams and Joe Williams led the Utes’ back down the field and Joe Williams scored a 12 yard rushing touchdown to give the Utes a 14-3 advantage.

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At the tail end of the third quarter as Utah was punting the ball, Oregon’s Dillon Mitchell returned the punt 45 yards to Utah’s 29 yard line. Immediately after that Oregon executed a flea flicker to score its first touchdown of the game and make the score 14-10.

Utah punted the ball early in the fourth quarter. After an Oregon penalty, the Ducks were starting their drive on their own four yard line. This did nothing to hamper their offense, however. Oregon would make its way to Utah’s three yard line for a 1st-and-goal following 20, 35 and 18 yard rushes. On a 3rd-and-goal the Ducks would earn their first lead of the game following a one yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Herbert to Freeman.

More than five minutes into the fourth quarter when Oregon was on the receiving end of another Utah punt, Brooks accidentally touched the ball and rolled it into the endzone. After a long review by the referees, they determined that Chase Hansen recovered it for touchdown, and Utah took a 21-17 lead.

Utah defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei goes in for a tackle on Oregon running back Royce Freeman in the first half during the first half of the Utes 30-28 loss against the Oregon Ducks at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Nov.19., 2016. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

Utah defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei goes in for a tackle on Oregon running back Royce Freeman during the first half of the Utes 30-28 loss against the Oregon Ducks at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Nov.19, 2016. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

Oregon would march all the way down the field, and following a 31 yard pass from Herbert the Ducks were in the red zone. Oregon scored again and took a 24-21 lead.

Both teams would go on to score one more touchdown as Oregon would take away not only a win from Utah, but more likely than not, a shot at the Pac-12 title.

“It’s tough because we needed to make a play, and we didn’t,” Dimick said.

The Utes will head out on the road for their final game of the season in Boulder, Colo. against the Buffs. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m.

k.brenneisen@dailyutahchronicle.com