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October 10, 2009

Utah's big comeback spoils Rams homecoming

Down two touchdowns late in the third quarter, Utah (4-1, 1-0 MWC) needed a complete team effort to defeat Colorado State (3-3, 0-2 MWC) 24-17, the first time the Utes have overcome a 14-point deficit on the road in nearly 20 years. Back in 1991, Utah trailed Wyoming 29-14 in Laramie before coming back to win 57-42.

Terrance Cain rallied the offense, leading three consecutive touchdown drives in the second half while Robert Johnson ended the final three Colorado State drives by intercepting Rams quarterback Grant Stucker. Johnson's three picks set a career high and gives him 11 career interceptions, tying him for 11th on Utah's all-time list.

"Robert Johnson had a breakout game," Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. "I was talking to him earlier in the week. I said, `Robert, the way this team we're playing throws the ball down the field, you got a chance to have a huge impact.' And he made the most of it. Because Colorado State has done a great job all season long of hooking up on those deep balls."

Utah's offense was sluggish in the first half, scoring just a field goal despite putting up 188 yards of offense. The Utes were their own worst enemy in the first half, throwing an interception and turning the ball over twice on downs. Colorado State couldn't take advantage of the Utes miscues, and the teams went into the locker room tied 3-3.

Colorado State came out strong to start the second half. With the Homecoming crowd behind them, the Rams reached deep into their bag of tricks. Rashaun Greer ran for 45 yards down to the 1-yard line on a rare double reverse. Leonard Mason ran the ball in from there to give the Rams a 10-3 lead. Mason ran for 130 yards on the day.

Utah attempted to answer the Colorado State score, driving down to the Rams 30-yard line before yet another turnover ended the Utah threat. Stucker hooked up with Dion Morton on a 36-yard touchdown pass that put the Rams ahead 17-3 with less than 20 minutes left in the game, seemingly putting the game away. The Rams had the momentum, the crowd, and the weather on their side. However, Cain had other ideas.

After a short kick gave the Utes the ball on their own 43, Cain took just two plays to quiet the Homecoming crowd. Cain ran for 10 yards on first down and threw an beautiful 47-yard touchdown pass to David Reed on the next snap. Utah had life, but the defense had yet to stop the Rams in the second half. A false start penalty on the Rams put them in a 1st-and-15 hole. Stucker had his running back open downfield but floated the ball allowing Johnson to run over and take it away at the Rams 27. Cain then went to work again.

Cain and Eddie Wide methodically marched the Utes down the field on a 17 play, 73-yard touchdown drive that took nearly 9 minutes off the clock to tie the game at 17. Cain completed 5 of 6 passes for 27 yards while running for 23 yards on the drive. Wide caught a 6-yard pass and ran for 17, finishing the drive with his second rushing touchdown of the season on a one-yard plunge. Wide finished the game with 102 yards on 17 carries, his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game after taking over for the injured Matt Asiata.

Colorado State again went away from what had been working for them, and Johnson made them pay. On third-and-three from the 50-yard line, the Rams decided to pass the ball downfield. Johnson came up with his second interception of the game, setting the Utah offense up to take the lead.

After two plays that netted very little, the Utes faced a third-and-long situation. Cain found Reed, who broke a tackle and raced down the sideline for a 45-yard gain down to the Rams 25 yard line. Cain ended the drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Wide, giving the Utes a 24-17 lead at giving the Rams one last chance. Stucker completed two consecutive passes and once again drove the Rams near midfield before Johnson notched his third interception. Utah ran out the clock inside the Rams 15 yard line.

NOTES:

  • Reed had 140 yards on 9 catches, his second 100-yard game of the season.
  • Cain set a career high with 24 completions. Cain finished the game 24-for-32 for 248 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cain also threw an interception.
  • Stevenson Sylvester led the Utes with 7 tackles. Koa Misi and Derrick Shelby each recorded a sack.

Game Balls

COLORADO STATE: Leonard Mason and Nick Oppenneer. Mosure ran hard behind an excellent offensive line. Mosure's 130 yards are good enough for the third highest individual rushing total the Utes have allowed this season. Oppenneer played an outstanding game despite leaving early with an injury, recording 8 tackles including two huge stops of Wide on swing passes to end Utah drives. Oppenneer also had the Rams lone interception of the game.

UTAH: Terrance Cain and Robert Johnson. Utah had many players worthy of a game ball on offense; the offensive line played well as did Wide and Reed. It was Cain that took control of the offense in the second half and refused to accept defeat. Cain's performance included several big plays that kept Utah drives alive, as Cain and the Utes were a perfect 7-for-7 on third down in the second half, Cain completing all 4 passes for 63 yards and adding a 9-yard run. Johnson was all over the field, recording 5 tackles and a pass breakup to go along with his three game changing interceptions.


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