SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Washington’s defense is as strong as advertised once again.
The No. 10 Huskies smothered Utah for the better part of four quarters on the way to a 21-7 victory on Saturday night.
Nothing the Utes did on offense had a real impact as the game progressed, and Washington pounded and bruised Utah.
Three turnovers and a trio of fourth-quarter, fourth-down stops offered proof of Washington’s defensive strength.
“Turnovers come in bunches,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said. “For whatever reason, we’ve been slow to start there. We have a really good defense, and a really good defense creates turnovers. We don’t count on the offense just giving us the ball.”
The wave of turnovers started with Jordan Miller intercepting Tyler Huntley with nine seconds left before halftime. Miller prevented Utah from scoring after it had driven into field goal range.
It continued into the third quarter. Utah’s first two second-half drives ended in a costly fumbles.
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.
It only got worse from there for Utah. The Utes 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,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “When you play a team that good, you better capitalize on those opportunities.”
Washington’s defensive effort complimented Myles Gaskin’s dominance in the backfield. Gaskin ran for 143 yards on 30 carries and added a touchdown.
Jake Browning threw for 155 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Aaron Fuller led the way with 108 yards on six catches.
In the end, 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 only 327 total yards, but 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,” Petersen said. “At the end of the day, this is going to give our offense some confidence.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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 could not close the gap again after committing a flurry of drive killers and getting shut down in the fourth quarter.
The Utes 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.
A third drive, starting at the Washington 31, also ended with a failed fourth down conversion in the final minute.
“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: 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.
Utah: 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.
Zack 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 became diminished after halftime because it still bothered him.
“We’re just trying to get the most out of him we can,” Whittingham said. “He’s a tough kid and he’s giving everything he’s got but he’s still not right.”
Myles Gaskin continues climbing career Pac-12 rushing lists. Gaskin’s first quarter TD run moved him into 8th place all-time with 47 career rushing touchdowns. The senior also moved into seventh all-time in rushing yardage with 4,326 career rushing yards.
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.