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Utah football: White becomes single-season rushing leader, scores game-winner

Published January 3, 2012 11:56 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

El Paso, Texas • John White heard the roar of the crowd, but being a bowl game, he wasn't quite sure what that meant, exactly.

"Then I just looked to my left, and I saw the [official's] arms go up, and I thought, 'Touchdown, game over,'" White said.

And comeback complete.

The University of Utah running back and Sun Bowl MVP had just provided the game-winner, scoring from 8 yards out in overtime on third-and-goal to give the Utes a 30-27 win and cap one of the most improbable comebacks in school history.

There was a little doubt, White acknowledged, when the Utes trailed 24-10 in the fourth quarter, "but we rallied up, which is what the scoreboard over there shows," he said, pointing to the corner of the Sun Bowl. "That says everything right there."

And once again, White meant almost everything to the Utes, rushing for 115 yards and the game-winning touchdown on 26 carries.

"Thank God for John White," said receiver DeVonte Christopher, who also had a big hand in the comeback with a 28-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-14 with 1:32 remaining.

Coincidentally, White needed the overtime to become the school's all-time single-season rushing yardage leader. He ended up with 1,519 — passing Carl Monroe's 1,507 from 1982 — after getting 15 in the extra session.

White also became Utah's single-season carries leader with 318 and single-season rushing touchdowns leader with 15.

"I love the guy — he makes me look good out there," said fullback Shawn Asiata, who cleared the way for the touchdown run with a big block. "I knew we had to get it, that we needed to score to win. I knew I had to make a block on the linebacker. I just had to beat him to it, and I did."

Asiata never carried the ball, but had five catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Oddly, the Utes were going to throw a fade route to Christopher on third-and-goal from the 3 in overtime, but a delay of game penalty backed them up and caused offensive coordinator Norm Chow to pick a running play.

"I just knew they trusted me when I heard [the play call]," White said. "I knew that I had to punch it in. Everybody expected me to get the ball, but I did it. Nothing more than that. I had heart and I just wanted it more than anybody else."

The leading ballcarrier in the game was actually Georgia Tech's Preston Lyons, who finished with 138 yards on 18 carries. But 129 of those yards came in the first half.

drew@sltrib.com

Twitter: @drewjay —

Utah RB John White's past two games

Opponent Attempts-Yards TDs

Colorado 10-28 0

Georgia Tech 26-115 1 —

John White's single-season numbers

Yards • 1,519

Carries • 318

Touchdowns • 15