Aaron Fuller had 108 yards receiving as the No. 10 UW Huskies beat Utah. (AP)
By JOHN COON
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Myles Gaskin ran for 143 yards on 30 carries and added a touchdown, and Washington’s defense forced three turnovers as the No. 10 Huskies beat Utah 21-7 on Saturday night.
Jake Browning threw for 155 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Aaron Fuller led the way with 108 yards on six catches. Washington (2-1, 1-0 Pac-12) beat the Utes for a third straight season, and holds an 11-1 lead in the all-time series.
The Huskies tallied 327 total yards, and did just enough to keep Utah at arm’s length after halftime.
“We didn’t score the points we’d probably like to score, but I know the quality of defense we just went against,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said. “At the end of the day, this is going to give our offense some confidence.”
— Washington Football (@UW_Football) September 16, 2018
Zack Moss rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Tyler Huntley threw for just 138 yards with one interception and added 40 yards on the ground.
Moss was limited by a first-half ankle injury. He got it re-taped and finished out the game, but his role in the Utah offense was diminished after halftime.
“We’re just trying to get the most out of him we can,” Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “He’s a tough kid and he’s giving everything he’s got, but he’s still not right.”
Utah (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12) lost its conference opener for the first time since 2014. The Utes fell to 0-4 all-time against ranked Washington teams after generating 261 total yards.
Utah started all three fourth quarter drives inside the Washington 35 yard line, but went 0-of-3 on fourth down on each drive.
“The bottom line is we had some chances and didn’t capitalize,” Whittingham said. “When you play a team that good, you better capitalize on those opportunities.”
Washington struck on its opening drive. The Huskies went up 7-0 after Gaskin broke loose for a 38-yard scoring run down the sideline.
Utah answered before the end of the first quarter, tying the game at 7-all when Moss eluded a pair of tacklers and scored on a 4-yard run.
Washington came right back and scored on its next drive, taking a 14-7 lead when Browning scored on a 1-yard keeper. Andre Baccellia set it up when he raced 37 yards to the Utah 2-yard line two plays earlier.
Utah moved within field goal range in the final minute of the first half, but came away empty-handed after Jordan Miller picked off pass from Huntley with nine seconds remaining.
Washington extended its lead to 21-7 on a 6-yard scoring catch by Ty Jones midway through the third quarter. The Huskies cashed in after Taylor Rapp recovered a fumble by Britain Covey following a first-down catch at the Utah 44. The Utes’ ensuing drive also ended in a turnover. This time, Bronson Boyd coughed up the ball after a first-down catch.
“There a lot of things that play a part, but we just had drive killers,” Huntley said. “I definitely give credit to Washington’s defense. They definitely played hard all four quarters. They swarm to the ball. They did a good job of making plays at the right time.”
Utah could not take advantage of starting a pair of drives inside the Washington 30 yard line in the fourth quarter. Pita Tonga returned an interception to the 11, and a 21-yard punt from Race Porter put the ball on the 28. Utah turned it over on downs to end both drives.
“They turned up the dial,” Petersen said, referring to his team’s fourth-quarter defense. “We got their best when we needed their best.”
Washington’s defense is once again one of the better units in the Pac-12. The Huskies kept the Utes from seriously threatening after the first quarter and their defense stuffed Utah after an interception and a bad punt gave the Utes excellent starting field position deep in Washington territory on consecutive fourth-quarter drives.
A mishmash of bad reads and turnovers show that Utah’s offense has not taken the step forward that the Utes hoped for this season. Huntley threw an interception that ended a Utah drive that moved into field goal range just before halftime. Britain Covey and Bronson Boyd fumbled following first down catches to end back-to-back third quarter drives.
Washington will likely move up a spot or two with a pair of top-10 teams (Auburn, Wisconsin) losing this weekend.
Washington hosts Arizona State on Saturday.
Utah has a bye week before traveling to Washington State on Sept. 29.