Sep 25, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) warms up prior to their game against the Washington State Cougars at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

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Defense leads Utah past Washington State

T.J. Pledger scored a go-ahead touchdown and rushed for 117 yards, Clark Phillips returned an interception 54 yards for another late score and the Utah defense sparked a second-half comeback in a 24-13 win over Washington State in Pac-12 action on Saturday afternoon at Salt Lake City.

The talk all week around Utah (2-2, 1-0 Pac-12) revolved around the quarterback position after starter Charlie Brewer quit earlier in the week, paving the way for Cameron Rising to seize the No. 1 spot after he rallied the team in a loss to San Diego State.

While Rising only threw for 137 yards, the defense stepped up to help Utah knock off Washington State (1-3, 0-2) in its conference opener. That was critical after the Utes’ offense fumbled the ball seven times, losing possession three times in a less-than-ideal showing.

Utah racked up eight sacks, notched three interceptions and limited the Cougars to 13 points despite being on the field for nearly 37 of the 60 minutes.

Devin Lloyd had a brilliant game for Utah with eight tackles, one sack and one interception, and fellow linebacker Karene Reid, tallied a team-high 15 tackles, one sack and an interception.

Utah scored the final 17 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter after falling behind 13-7 in the third.

Washington State scored just before and after halftime, with Dean Janikowski punching in a 20-yard, last-second field goal before the intermission and then scoring a touchdown following a fumble recovery early in the third quarter. Jarrett Guarantano hit De’Zhaun Stribling on a 26-yard pass for that score.

That turn of events turned a 7-3 deficit into a 13-7 lead for the Cougars.

Guarantano completed 25 of 36 passes for 248 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

Pledger did his damage on just 10 carries, including a 59-yard rumble and a 20-yard scoring run with 4:43 left in the game.

The teams went scoreless in the first quarter, as the Cougars turned it over twice and the Utes had two punts.

Dean Janikowski registered the first points with a 39-yard field goal with 10:34 left in the second quarter.

A 22-yard scramble by Rising paved way for a touchdown by his backup, Ja’Quinden Jackson. That 2-yard Jackson score gave Utah a 7-3 lead.

After the Cougars’ 10-0 push, the Utes responded with a 28-yard field goal by Jadon Redding to start the comeback.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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