Nov. 12, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY (AP/Bruin Athletics) - The UCLA Bruins saw Utah's John White carry the ball 33 times, but it was his one reception that broke the game open.
"We were right in it at the half and still right there when we had them facing third-and-13. (Sean) Westgate had their running back covered, but the ball was perfect and he made a great catch," said UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel.
White rushed for 167 yards, his game-changing catch was one of his three touchdowns, and Conroy Black returned an interception 67 yards for another score to lift Utah to a 31-6 victory over UCLA on Saturday night.
The win makes the Utes (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) bowl eligible for the ninth straight year. UCLA will look to get back on track next Saturday in the Rose Bowl against Colorado, which defeated Arizona today.
With wintry conditions at the start of the game, the Utes became even more one-dimensional behind the diminutive White. He didn't disappoint, vaulting from 10th on Utah's single-season rushing chart all the way to No. 4 with 1,191 yards.
UCLA (5-5, 4-3) saw its chances for a possible Pac-12 South title slip a little until Washington State defeated Arizona State. The Bruins will need a win at home against Colorado or at USC to qualify for a bowl for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons.
"We have to grow up and play well in these kind of environments. We need to get better from this," Neuheisel said.
The Bruins outgained Utah 295-291 but committed 12 penalties for 91 yards and didn't score a touchdown.
The win was Utah's third straight. Utah's defense, ranked No. 3 overall in the Pac-12, held the Bruins to a pair of Tyler Gonzalez field goals. It intercepted Prince twice, with Black taking the second one back for the TD.
"Utah's defense was moving around a lot, and the crowd noise and their timing up their blitzes really threw us off. They had a great plan for us and were stopping everything we wanted to do," said Prince, who was 12 for 24 passing.
White's 1-yard touchdown run gave Utah a 7-3 lead with 5:34 left in the second quarter. The junior running back accounted for all 39 yards on the scoring drive with seven carries.
Utah quarterback Jon Hays had just 5 yards passing in the first half, but was 3 for 3 on the opening drive of the second half. He passed 16 yards to DeVonte Christopher on third-and-5, then hit Dres Anderson for 33 yards over the middle on the next play. He capped the drive with a 13-yard TD pass to White, for a 14-3 Utah lead.
"We were late making some adjustments and missed some communication with the secondary. But they made big plays, you need to give them credit," Westgate said.
After the home team added a touchdown on a White run, UCLA cut the gap to 21-6 on Gonzalez's 35-yard field goal early in the fourth, but Black's interception return for a score turned the tables back toward the Utes.
"Coming into the game we felt ready. But you saw what happened. We obviously weren't as ready as we thought we were," Neuheisel said.
"Early, the weather kept us from throwing effectively, but the weather cleared and we should have been able to throw and be consistent. But we could not," Neuheisel said.The game was the Bruins' first played in the snow since an Oct. 14, 1964 contest at Syracuse.