SALT LAKE CITY – Senior wide receiver Tim Patrick caught an 18-yard touchdown with 16 second remaining to give the University of Utah football team a 31-27 victory over USC in its Pac-12 Conference opener Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Utah went 4-for-4 on fourth-down conversions and earned a 3-1 edge in turnover margin over USC. The Ute receiving corps combined for 209 receiving yards (15 catches) and two touchdowns.
Patrick led the way for Utah with six catches for 100 yards, including the game-winning touchdown (18 yards) with 16 second remaining. He has two 100-yard receiving games. He leads the team with five touchdown catches this season. He also had a 40-yard catch, his third catch of at least 40 yards this season.
Raelon Singleton scored his first career touchdown on a 10-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Singleton had three catches for 42 yards. Senior Cory Butler-Byrd was second on the team with 49 receiving yards (four catches).
Junior quarterback Troy Williams scored his first career rushing touchdown in the first quarter on a 10-yard run. He went 21-for-34 passing for 270 yards on the night with two touchdown passes (0 INT). Williams had his third 200-yard passing game of the season.
The Utah running back trio combined for 160 yards on 23 carries (7.0 average). True freshman Zack Moss led Utah in rushing for the second-straight game with 90 yards on 23 carries (3.9 average). Sophomore Armand Shyne gained 62 yards on the ground on 14 attempts (4.4 average).
Offensive lineman Isaac Asiata recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in the third quarter, his first career touchdown.
The Utes registered 5.0 TFL with 1.0 sack and Utah forced and recovered fumbles on USC’s first three offensive possessions. Sunia Tauteoli, Chase Hansen and Pasoni Tasini
each forced a fumble while the recoveries went to Marcus Williams, Hansen and Hunter Dimick. Williams has two fumble recoveries this season.
The Utes enjoyed a 3-1 edge in turnovers and scored their first 10 points off the turnovers.
Tautoli led Utah with a career-high 11 tackles. Marcus Williams had eight tackles on the night, while Tasini led Utah with 2.5 tackles for loss (three total tackles).
Dimick recorded a sack to bring his season total to four and his career total to 19 sacks (tied for fifth-most all-time at Utah). Dimick had 2.0 total tackles for loss (5.0 season) and his 30.0 career TFL is tied for eighth all-time at Utah.
Senior placekicker Andy Phillips made his only field goal attempt of the night, a 36-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Sophomore punter Mitch Wishnowsky landed all three of his punts inside the 20-yard line, including two inside the 10-yard line (3, 15, 9). He averaged 49.7 yards per punt (three
punts, 149 yards) and had one punt of 50+ yards, bringing his season total to 10.
USC drove 33 yards on its opening possession before Hansen forced a fumble that was recovered by Dimick at Utah’s own 41-yard line.
Utah then rushed 12 times for 59 yards and four first downs on Utah’s opening touch that was capped when Troy Williams kept on a read option for a 10-yard touchdown, his first career rushing touchdown to give the Utes a 7-0 lead. Moss rushed for 36 yards on eight attempts (4.5 average) during the drive.
USC quickly erased the deficit with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Adoreé Jackson to even the game at seven points apiece. It was Jackson’s third career kickoff return for a touchdown, second of 100 yards.
The Utes went 47 yards on nine plays in 4:06 of clock time before Moss fumbled and USC took over on its own 31-yard line. The Trojans gained 56 yards in four plays before Tauteoli forced a Sam Darnold fumble that was recovered by Marcus Williams on Utah’s own 13-yard line.
Shyne picked up 13 yards on a counter for the first play from scrimmage on Utah’s next drive, but the drive eventually stalled and Wishnowsky came on to punt for the first time, a 59-yard effort with no return.
The Utes outgained the Trojans in the first quarter, 128 to 90, while enjoying a 2-for-3 conversion rate on third down in the first 15 minutes.
Utah stopped another USC drive by forcing a fumble and Williams found Patrick on a post route for 40 yards to move the Utes to the Trojan 24-yard line. McCormick then picked up seven yards on a flare route out of the backfield and Shyne picked up a rushing first down. The drive ended with a 36-yard field goal by Phillips to push the Utes to a 10-7 advantage.
The Trojans then went on a six-play, 75-yard drive in 1:50 to take their first lead at 14-10 with 4:42 remaining in the first half and USC tacked on a 32-yard field to take a 17-10 lead into halftime.
Butler-Byrd started the second half with an 11-yard reception down the left seam, but the Utes could not muster another first down in the sequence.
The Utes answered on the next drive with a reverse flea flicker that ended up being lateraled back to Williams, who found Handley for a 28-yard gain. Williams then completed two more passes for 26 yards, including an 18-yard play by Singleton. From the 1-yard line, Shyne fumbled but Asiata wrestled away a fumble recovery from the Trojans for a touchdown to pull the Utes within seven points, 24-17. Utah’s drive went 85 yards on 10 plays while eating up 4:51 on the clock.
USC managed to make it a two-score game with a 43-yard field goal by Matt Boermeester to give the Trojans a 27-17 advantage after the first play of the fourth quarter.
Butler-Byrd gained 21 yards on the first play of Utah’s ensuing possession and true freshman Demari Simpkins ran a ‘sluggo’ down the left seam. Offensive lineman Garett Bolles then made the RES crowd erupt with a violent crack-back block that sprung Butler-Byrd’s 15-yard gain on a reverse. Patrick gained 11 yards on a third-down square out catch to the boundary before Moss picked up two yards on a fourth-down carry. Singleton then completed the drive with an acrobatic 10-yard touchdown catch over the back of a USC defensive back to cut Utah’s deficit to three points, 27-24. Singleton’s first career touchdown capped the 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive that elapsed 5:10.
Utah’s final drive in the fourth quarter started from its own 7-yard line, Siaosi Wilson drew a pass interference penalty and Patrick picked up 14 yards down the middle of the field to move the Utes to their own 35-yard line. Another Patrick catch for seven yards moved the chains before an Evan Moeai gave Utah another set of downs to moves the Utes to USC’s 44-yard line. Singleton gained 14 yards on third down to set up a fourth-and-one that Shyne picked up with a 3-yard run. The Utes converted another fourth-down with a five-yard Moss rush before Williams found Patrick in the near corner for the go-ahead score and to give Utah the 31-27 victory.
The attendance of 46,133 was the 11th-largest crowd in Rice-Eccles Stadium history and the 41st consecutive sellout.
Utah raises its record to 7-2 in blackout games, beating TCU (2008), Wyoming (2009), Oregon State (2011), Cal (2012), USC (2014 and 2016), Oregon State (2015), and losing to TCU (2010) and UCLA (2013).
The Utes play their first Pac-12 road game at California on Sat., Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. PT.