Utah Football survived seven fumbles, outlasted Washington State to open the Pac-12 game with a win


The Ute Defense lists six sacks, holding Cougars rushing to 85 yards.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes quarterback Ja’Quinden Jackson (3) is stopped as the University of Utah is hosting Washington State, NCAA football in Salt Lake City on Saturday, September 25, 2021.

TJ Pledger didn’t fumble.

On a day when no one seemed to be able to hold the ball for the University of Utah, the Oklahoma transfer did. Playing his 20-yard touchdown run at 4:53 put the Utes in the lead as they weathered a terrible ball safety day on Saturday with a 24-13 win in front of 51,483 at Rice Eccles Stadium.

Pledger’s touchdown came after the Utes fumbled seven times, three of which were lost. In addition, a botched exchange between Cam Rising and Micah Bernard was not counted as a fumble, but rather a drop, and in two cases Utes lost the ball but was excluded through contact.

In the first game of the second half, Bernard lost a fumble deep in the Utah end, Washington State pounced on it at the Utah 21-yard line. In the third game of the following drive, Jarrett Guarantano walked across the middle to De’Zaun Stribling, who reached up to make a difficult 26-yard touchdown catch.

Dean Janikowski’s extra point gave the Cougars a 13: 7 lead after 1:40 p.m. Utah came in on the next run 13:10 with a 28-yard field goal from Jadon Redding within three, but the goal stayed there as the Utes constantly wasted opportunities to tie or take the lead.

After Devin Lloyd athletic interception of Guarantano at the Washington State 19-yard line at 6:28 am, backup quarterback Ja’Quinden Jackson, in play for short yard purposes, fumbled the ball on Aug.

Rising fumbled but recovered on the next drive, but Redding’s missed 31-yard field goal attempt kept the score at 13-10.

Chris Curry later fumbled the ball on the goal line after a 59-yard pledger run brought Utah to 15 two games earlier.

Britain Covey fumbled out of bounds on a fourth quarter punt return, which coincided with breaking the program record for punt return yards in a career with 903.

Meanwhile, Utah’s defense showed up on Saturday, recording six sacks and surrendering just 85 yards after consecutive games that saw BYU and the state of San Diego cut open on the ground.

The stands will update this story


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