Utah Football Defeats Michigan, 24-17, to Open 2015 Season

University of Utah vs Michigan on 09-03-2015 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Utes defeat the Wolverines 24-17. ©2015 Bryan Byerly

University of Utah vs Michigan on 09-03-2015 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Utes defeat the Wolverines 24-17. ©2015 Bryan Byerly

SALT LAKE CITY — Three interceptions and a defensive touchdown was the difference as the Utah football team opened its 2015 season with a 24-17 victory over Michigan on Thursday evening in front of the largest crowd in Utah history (47,825).

Utah’s three interceptions came from Justin Thomas, Cory Butler-Byrd and Marcus Williams, with Thomas capping Utah’s scoring with a 55-yard touchdown return in the fourth quarter.

Travis Wilson went 24-for-33 for 208 yards at quarterback. His one interception of the game came on a jump ball at the end of the first half.

Travis Wilson

University of Utah vs Michigan on 09-03-2015 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Utes defeat the Wolverines 24-17. ©2015 Bryan Byerly

Devontae Booker led Utah with 124 yards of total offense, which included 69 yards rushing (22 carries) and 55 yards receiving (seven catches).

Britain Covey was strong in his first career game, catching five passes for 58 yards. He also had a 14-yard punt return. Wilson found eight different receivers on the night.

Michigan had 355 yards of total offense to Utah’s 337 yards, and each team came away with two offensive touchdowns and a field goal. Eighty of Michigan’s yards came on its final drive of the game, and the Utah defense held the Wolverines to just 76 yards rushing.

Photo Rob GrayGionni Paul led Utah with 14 tackles, tying his career high. Tevin Carter had nine tackles with a team-high 1.5 tackles for loss. Carter also had a pass breakup.

Utah is 3-1 all-time against Michigan and has a three-game winning streak in the series.

The teams traded field goals early before the Utes took their first lead of the game, 10-3, with Booker scoring his first touchdown of the season on a one-yard run after an 11-play, 75-yard drive. Booker had 19 yards of the drive while Covey’s first career catch went for 20 yards in the drive. Covey also had an eight-yard reception that was just shy of the end zone.

Photo Rob GrayThe Utes picked off the Wolverines twice in the first half. Michigan’s first offensive drive of the game ended when Buter-Byrd, making his first career start, had his first career interception. Marcus Williams had his second career pick in the second quarter for a 10-yard return. Utah held Michigan to just 25 yards rushing in the first half.

Michigan came out of the locker room after halftime energized and put together an 11-play, 49-yard drive over 5:02 that ended in a missed field goal.

University of Utah vs Michigan on 09-03-2015 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Utes defeat the Wolverines 24-17. ©2015 Bryan Byerly

University of Utah vs Michigan on 09-03-2015 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Utes defeat the Wolverines 24-17. ©2015 Bryan Byerly

Utah responded with a long drive of its own, going up 17-3 after a 14-yard touchdown rush by Wilson with 5:49 left in the half following a 10-play, 74-yard drive over 4:09. Harrison Handley’s 18-yard catch — his first career reception — brought Utah inside the red zone and Covey had a 15-yard catch during the drive.

Michigan scored its first touchdown of the game on its next drive following a 12-play, 75-yard drive over 5:03 for a 19-yard TD pass with 46 seconds left in the third quarter and bringing Utah’s lead within a touchdown, 17-10. The Wolverine drive got new life following a Utah personal foul penalty on third down just before the touchdown.

Photo Rob Gray

The Utah defense got into the scoring in the fourth quarter, as Thomas picked off a pass with 7:58 left in the game and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, giving Utah a 24-10 advantage. It was his first career interception and first career touchdown. Utah’s defense again came up big on Michigan’s next drive, holding the Wolverines on fourth down at the Utah 35-yard line.

Michigan scored with 54 seconds remaining in the game after a nine-play, 80-yard drive over 1:52. Utah came up with the subsequent onsides kick.

Utah returns to action on Friday, Sept. 11, against Utah State. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. MT on ESPN2.

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Senior Night for Utah Gymnastics Ends Well

Utah Gymnastics

A record crowd of 16,019 came to watch the 4th ranked Utah Gymnasts team against 5th ranked Michigan at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on March 6, 2015.  The Utes came up with the win 198.250 to 197.675 on the historic night and last regular season home match for the four Utah seniors.

The enormous crowd (even more wanted into the building) brought Utah’s season attendance average to an NCAA gymnastics record 14,950. The Huntsman Center seats 15,000, but another thousand standing room only fans filled the upper deck.

Becky Tutka

Becky Tutka smiles as she completes her floor routine.

The magnificent senior class of Georgia Dabritz, Corrie Lothrop, Becky Tutka and Tory Wilson. When Dabritz scored a 10.0 on the bars–her second 10.0 on bars this season and her fifth career 10.0 on the event–the standing ovation that ensued was deafening. All four played to standing ovations on the final event–the floor exercise.

“It’s been an exciting few weeks for us with the New York Times here two meets ago and the great article (by John Branch) that led to CBS calling and coming here today and tonight,” said coach Greg Marsden. “They are so surprised and wonder why they didn’t hear about our fans, this atmosphere and the great gymnastics before. It has kind of been our little secret and now the whole world is finding out.”

Georgia Dabritz Utah Gymnastics

Georgia Dabritz shown here on vault, scored a 10.0 on bars and also won the all-around and tied for first on floor with Tory Wilson

“It’s an honor,” said Wilson of the crowds she has competed in front of during her four years in the Huntsman Center. “The sheer magnitude of it has left us speechless.”

Both Utah and Michigan put on a show, combining to hit 48-of-48 routines and 26 scores of 9.90 or better. In a great celebration of senior night, Dabritz (39.70), Wilson (39.65) and Lothrop (39.575) placed 1-2-3 in the all-around. Dabritz also won bars (10.0) and tied for first on floor with Wilson (9.95). Wilson also tied for first on vault with Kari Lee and Kailah Delaney (9.925). The freshman Lee won the beam with a near-perfect 9.975.

Utah needed every tenth of its season-high 198.250 score–the third-best score in school history–to put away the Wolverines. The Utes had season highs on beam (49.50) and floor (49.65). Coach Greg Marsden was especially pleased with the beam score.

Tory Wilson

Tory Wilson

With four Utes tying for first on the vault, Utah took a 49.50-49.475 lead out of the gates. Both teams went toe-to-toe the entire meet, but Utah never relinquished the meet and the best beam effort of the season took the pressure off heading into floor.

Utah heads to Georgia next week with hopes of earning just its second undefeated season in school history. The Utes are 11-0 overall and finished their Pac-12 slate with a 6-0 mark.  The PAC-12 Championships will be held on March 21st at the Huntsman Center.