Dallas • Utah running back Zack Moss didn’t need to have the ball in his hands very long before he changed the game Tuesday.
Moss rushed for 150 yards on 20 carries (7.5 yards per carry) in the Utes 30-14 win over West Virginia in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl. Moss put the Utes ahead on his second carry of the game when he eluded a tackler in the backfield, burst through the line of scrimmage, side-stepped another tackler diving at his legs and scampered 58 yards for a touchdown.
“It’s always great to get a lead,” Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said. “He popped that run that was 50 yards or a little more, and that gave us momentum. Then we stalled for a little while. We didn’t get much for quite some time, but you always want to get out front. We were able to do that with that big run.”
Moss finished the season with 1,173 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. After showing flashes of his ability while battling injuries as a freshman last season, the 5-foot-10, 210-pound bulldog delivered on that promise this season.
Moss, who converted from linebacker to running back during his junior year of high school, described where he is at the end of this season as a “big flip” compared to the same point last season.
“Mainly just maturing and understanding the game of football a lot more than I did last year,” he said. “[I’ve been] kind of just sitting down more, watching more film, learning more football.”
While the large chunk of Moss’ yards against West Virginia came on one run, his presence also opened up running room for quarterback Tyler Huntley (57 rushing yards). Both of Huntley’s rushing touchdowns came off fakes to Moss, which created gaps for Huntley to exploit.
Moss’ 58-yard touchdown run was the longest run of the season for the Utes and the fourth-longest in Heart of Dallas Bowl history.
“It was big for us, getting started early because the run game opens up a lot of stuff, especially when you’ve got a dual-threat quarterback,” Moss said.
ZACK MOSS IN DALLAS
First quarter • 4 carries, 70 yards; 1 reception, 9 yards
Second quarter • 4 carries, 14 yards
Third quarter • 4 carries, 24 yards
Fourth quarter • 8 carries, 42 yards