In the Pac-12 Football Championship Game, Utah captured their first PAC-12 Championship. With ANOTHER convincing win over Oregon. In week 12 the Utes demolished the Ducks in every area and it was much the same again, winning 38-10 with the defence shutting down the opposition offence.
Utah came out of the blocks fast with a touchdown on the first possession. After a few run plays, quarterback Cameron Rising hit back-to-back first downs on 1st and 10. The second a pass on a slant route to wide receiver Britain Covey for a 22 yard gain. Then on 3rd and 12 from the Oregon 17 yard line Rising lobbed a ball into the end zone for Jaylen Dixon.
Oregon corner back Mykael Wright was called for pass interference for a 15 yard penalty that moved Utah to the 2 yard line. There wasn’t a lot of contact from Wright but when you don’t turn your head back to the ball, you will always be in trouble. Running back Tavion Thomas went straight down the middle untouched for the touchdown.
All eyes were on the Oregon offence and quarterback Anthony Brown as they took the field. The Ducks struggled massively against the Utah defence last time and a good start was needed. They did manage to get one first down but had to punt on the fifth play, with even the short yard gains being a struggle. The offence were soon back on the field after a Utah 3 and out.
Loyd reads Browns Mind
Four plays later Anthony Brown held his head down as he trotted off the field as the Utah defence celebrated out of shot. Linebacker Devin Lloyd was bossing the Pac-12 Football Championship Game. He showed his football smarts once again as he read Brown’s pass. He plucked it out of the hands of the Ducks receiver, taking it 34 yards for the pick 6.
The Pac-12 Football Championship Game had a but of deja vu to it from a few weeks ago. This time however the Oregon defence were trying at least to keep the score within reach. First Noah Sewell intercepted a Cam Rising pass to set the offence up with good field position at their own 46 yard line. That couldn’t spark the offence as the Utah defence looked too fast and physical for the Ducks.
Even when Brown threw the ball, he was off target or had miscommunication with a receiver. Kicker Camden Lewis had only missed 2 field goals all season, both in the previous meeting. Make that 3 against the Utes as he dragged a 44 yard effort wide of the posts. Another interception for the Ducks followed, this time from safety Verone McKinley III after Utah had moved the ball into the Oregon side of the field.
Again the offence were back on the sidelines in a flash with 3 plays going for 6 yards. Utah this time converted after back-to-back turnovers. Rising started to find his tight ends who were getting themselves open with ease. Mixed with Tavion Thomas gaining yards, the Oregon defence couldn’t get to grips with what to expect. The 12 play 74 yard drive ended with Rising finding Dalton Kincaid who had ghosted behind the secondary at the back of the end zone, with the extra point missed.
From bad to Worse for Brown
In a first half that you might have thought couldn’t get any worse with 27 seconds left, Brown made a terrible decision to make sure it did. Rolling to his right, it looked like he was just going to run out of bounds on 2nd and 10. Instead he tried to force a pass into his receiver while out of bounds but in mid-air. The ball was intercepted by Malone Mataele who couldn’t believe his luck as the ball was arrowed straight into his lap. Kicker Jadon Redding smashed a 50 yard field goal through the upright to make it 23-0 at half time.
Oregon started the second half with the ball and started to move the ball. They finally started to use running back Travis Dye more and lo and behold it worked. Then true freshman safety from the Utes had back-to-back plays that killed the drive. First he broke through the line to sack Anthony Brown, then broke up a pass on 3rd and 12. Camden Lewis this time was successful with a 42 yard field goal.
3 points were never going to be enough in the second half and after 3 and outs from both teams, Utah dealt the final nail in the coffin for the Ducks. Oregon had to punt from inside their own end zone after a bad snap that Brown recovered on his own 1 yard line, saving a safety. The Utes started from the Oregon 45 and in 4 plays had made 31-3. On the second play Rising broke loose on a 41 yard keeper, fooling Kayvon Thibodeaux on the RPO play.
Running back TJ Pledger finished it off, with Rising himself running in to the corner for the 2 pint conversion. You could see on the faces of the Oregon players that most had accepted defeat. Early in the 4th quarter, Thomas grabbed his second touchdown of the day to go with his 63 yards from 18 carries, a physical display from the running back.
Too Little Too Late
Oregon did grab a late touchdown when the hard working Travis Dye went in for 2 yard touchdown. Then with 5 minutes left, Utah ran down the clock as head coach Kyle Whittingham coach got the traditional Gatorade bath. At the end of the game he paid tribute to Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe, two Utah players who sadly lost their lives this year. Top linebacker Devin Lloyd came away with the MVP with a fantastic defensive performance. Utah will be heading to Pasadena to compete in their first Rose Bowl against either Ohio State or Iowa. Oregon will compete in a bowl game with speculation surrounding head coach Mario Cristobal’s future at the Ducks.
Written by Jordan Merritt @Jordm87