SALT LAKE CITY – Kelvin York ran for two touchdowns, Jake Murphy caught a TD pass from Adam Schulz, and a second half field goal topped the Utah scoring as Utah went on to beat the Buff of Colorado 24-17 Saturday afternoon at Rice Eccles Stadium. The game culminated with senior Defensive End / Linebacker Trevor Reilly grabbing a late interception and throwing it into the south end zone stands to end his final game as a Ute.
The Utah vs Colorado showdown matches up the two teams at the bottom of the Pac-12 South. The Utes jumped out to a 21-0 first-half lead but the Buffs weren’t going out without a fight. Colorado quarterback Sefo Luifau threw a TD pass to Nelson Spruce to the side of the north end zone on a 4th and 10 play that would have been nail in the coffin for the Buffs had it not been completed. The completed touchdown left 2:30 remaining in the game and an onside kick their only option to try to ty up the game. The ball bounced high and out of bounds on the Buffs sideline.
Utah ran the ball to work the clock as to work clock but were unable to get a first down so the Buffs were able to get the ball one last time. Tom Hackett had another brilliant punt inside of the 10 yard line. On the next play, defensive end Reilly dropped back from the line and caught the ball at the 21-yard-line. Trevor ran a few steps and slide to the ground after which him jumped up and threw the ball into the into the south end zone and ran to the sidelines to some harsh words from the coaching staff as flags flew for the display.
Adam Schulz, a former walk-on who had no D1 scholarship offers, had a good game for Utah going 19 of 33 and 233 yards. Schulz is now 1-2 as a starter after taking over for Travis Wilson who struggled with injuries to his hand and brain that started in the huge win over Stanford.
Colorado quarterback Luifau was pressured mercilessly in the first half but finished 23 of 46 for 241 yards and two touchdowns for the Buffs. In the third quarter, Luifau finally had time to throw and lofted a pass to Scott Fernandez down the middle of the field for a 34-yard touchdown.
Just when it looked like the Utes would put the game out of reach late in the third quarter, the Buffaloes made a big play. Jake Murphy caught a pass near the goal line and as he reached for the end zone, he lost the ball and Jeffrey Hall returned the fumble for 42 yards. A 15-yard face mask penalty on Schulz tacked on 15 yards. Schulz also appeared to have been injured on the play as well as he was examined on the sideline. He seemed to have shaken off the injury and returned on the next Utah possession.
Colorado on their next possession ended up kicking a 19 yard field goal by Will Oliver to set the score at 21-10 with 12:17 to play. Utah kicker Andy Phillips had the opportunity to match Colorado’s kicker with his own field goal from 46 yards out..
The opportunistic Utes used two fumble recoveries to spark short touchdown drives in the first quarter. The Buffaloes had just 11 fumbles all season but Liufau was sacked by Tenny Palepoi and lost the ball at the Colorado 34.
Schulz completed three passes on the drive to Jake Murphy the last of which was a 16-yard touchdown. Murphy, in his third game back from a broken wrist, had eight catches for 93 yards. Murphy has been a spark to the Utah offense since his return and a main target for Schulz as he started his first game the same game Murphy returned.
A highlight of the game was an attempted pass by Colorado QB Luifau that was knocked out of his hand just before he made the throw. Ute tackle Tuipolutu took the ball off a bounce and returned the ball to the Colorado 6-yard-line. On the next play, York ran up the middle and Utah led 14-0. Kelvin York has a fantastic game when he scored again from one yard out after Dres Anderson highlighted an 80-yard drive with a 49-yard dazzling catch. In his final game as a Ute, York posted a career-highs in yards and carries (31).
In the first half, Addison Gillam intercepted Schulz and returned it to the Utah 5. But the Buffs couldn’t capitalize on the mistake by the Utes and instead of taking the three points on a short field goal, Colorado decided to attempt a shot at a touch down on a 4th and goal situation. Trevor Reilly came up big on the play and stopped the run short of the goal and the Utes took over on downs.
For the season the Utes finish 5 – 7 and with only two victories in conference. The biggest of those wins coming against then 5th ranked Stanford. After a 10 consecutive season ending in bowl games, the Utes have now finished back-to-back campaigns with losing records.