Utah coach Kyle Whittingham spent the day watching a wave of wild results sweep across the nation and engulf the Pac-12, not that he needed the reminder.
A week ago, the Utes squandered a 21-point lead to Washington State. The next time out, they rallied to upset a Top 10 opponent for the second consecutive season.
Andy Phillips kicked a 29-yard field goal with 34 seconds left for Utah, and UCLA’s Ka’imi Fairbairn missed two field-goal attempts with no time on the clock as the Utes stunned the No. 8 Bruins 30-28 on Saturday night.
“That was a gutsy performance,” Whittingham said. “I’ve never understood what the word ‘signature win’ is, but this is a big win for us on the road. It says what our capabilities are if we play a complete game and play smart and play a full 60 minutes.”
Brett Hundley passed for 269 yards and two touchdowns for the Bruins (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12), who became the fourth team in the Top 10 to lose Saturday, and the fifth to fall this weekend.
Utah (4-1, 1-1) drove 63 yards in 10 plays for the go-ahead kick, taking 4:16 off the clock behind the rushing of Kendal Thompson and Devontae Booker to set up the kick by Phillips, the one-time member of the U.S. Ski Team.
“They were trying to load the box on Booker, and I was able to pull it a couple of times,” Thompson said. “We felt like we could run the ball and move it right down the field.”
Hundley then drove the Bruins to the Utah 37, but Fairbairn missed a 50-yard field goal on an untimed down after Eric Rowe was penalized for running into Fairbairn on a failed 55-yard attempt as time expired.
“They played a great game and beat us,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. “It doesn’t matter if it was the offense, the defense, special teams or the coaching. We have to figure out why. We have to push on from here.”
Booker ran for 156 yards and Oklahoma transfer Thompson added 83 yards on the ground for the Utes, who bounced back splendidly.
“When you rush for 242 yards against the talent that UCLA has in the front seven, you’ve done some good work,” Whittingham said.
UCLA led 28-27 after Hundley hit Eldridge Massington for a 40-yard TD strike with 4:50 to play, part of a second-half flurry in which Hundley passed for 187 yards and two scores on just eight completions.
But Hundley also was sacked 10 times while UCLA played from behind almost all night, and Tevin Carter returned an interception 27 yards for a score in the first quarter.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, Hundley connected with a streaking Devin Fuller down the Bruins’ sideline for a 93-yard touchdown pass, the second-longest play from scrimmage in school history.
But Utah capitalized on favorable field position after Hundley was sacked three times on UCLA’s next drive, and Phillips’ second field goal put the Utes up 27-21.
Hundley struggled to find rhythm for three quarters working behind an offensive line missing injured left guard Alex Redmond. Even when the Bruins gave Hundley time, he frequently held onto the ball and took coverage sacks or moved into pressure.
Nate Orchard sacked Hundley four times, tying the school record held by five other players. He also set a career-high with 11 tackles.
“The dude is just a freak athlete, the guy that teams have to game-plan for,” said defensive end Hunter Dimick, who added 2.5 sacks.
Paul Perkins ran for 99 yards for UCLA, scoring the Bruins’ first touchdown in the second quarter. Defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes added a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for UCLA, whose sputtering offense was a dramatic contrast from a Utah game plan that consistently delivered gains.
Thompson passed for 95 yards, finding receiver Dres Anderson for a leaping catch between two defenders for a 42-yard TD early in the second quarter.
Thompson replaced starter Travis Wilson after two series and seemingly caught UCLA off-guard several times with his elusiveness as a runner. Thompson rushed for 83 yards, using his legs to spark a late second-quarter drive that ended in Phillips’ 48-yard field goal for a 17-7 halftime lead.
“We’ve seen that from Kendal from the first practice in fall camp. That is his strength,” Whittingham said.
Whittingham declined to name a starting quarterback for Utah’s next game at Oregon State following a bye week, saying that the evaluation process will begin on Monday.
For now, Whittingham is simply happy to have a week free of Pac-12 madness.
“It’s a meat grinder,” Whittingham said. “You got any weakness in this conference and you’re toast. It’s week in, week out, one week after another. Unless you have a bye.”
SOURCE: The Associated Press