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Utes frustrate Ducks before capitulating

Published November 16, 2013 11:10 pm

Utah defense allows just eight first downs during the first half.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Eugene, Ore. • Kyle Whittingham really wanted to pay his defense a compliment after Utah lost 44-21 to Oregon here on Saturday. What he ended up saying was that the Ute D played great — for about three quarters.

And, then … Uh-oh.

"The game got out of hand," he said.

A familiar pattern had developed over the past three games, and now a fourth, when the defense was left battling Pac-12 opponents without a whole lot of support from its counterparts on the offensive side.

There were times when the Utah defense frustrated an explosive Duck offense, keeping it contained when it otherwise might have gone off. Through the first half, that defense allowed just eight first downs. Oregon picked up a mere 10 rushing yards — on 15 attempts — over those first two quarters. The Ducks were 0-for-5 on third-down conversions.

That left Duck quarterback Marcus Mariota, who Whittingham called "one of the best quarterbacks in the country," and ordinarily a threat to run, throwing the ball and picking up chunk yardage as a means to offensive survival.

He survived and thrived, passing for 180 first-half yards, including two touchdowns, as Oregon moved to a 17-7 lead.

By the end of the third quarter, Mariota had 277 passing yards and three TD passes. And at the end of the game, Oregon had 21 first downs to Utah's 17. It had 145 rushing yards to Utah's 116. It had 288 passing yards to Utah's 181.

"My little sister could have caught some of those touchdown passes," defensive end Trevor Reilly said. "We had too many missed assignments. You take away those four or five MA's, and we're in the game. We screwed up."

Ute defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake said: "Oregon wears you down. They make a lot of big plays and we made some mistakes. That's my fault."

Before he ducked into a quiet Utah locker room, he added: "We've got to get better. We have to get better."

gmonson@sltrib.com

Tale of the tape

Utah Oregon

17 1st downs 21

116 Rush 145

181 Pass 288

297 Total 433

9-18 3rd down 2-10

3 Sack 1