BOULDER, Colo. – In the late going, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham challenged his defense to force a turnover. Cornerback Dominique Hatfield took it a step further.
Hatfield returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown with 10 minutes left to play and Utah beat Colorado 38-34 Saturday, sending the Buffaloes to their season-ending eighth consecutive loss.
“It was probably one of the most amazing feelings in my life, especially to do it at a time like that, a clutch moment, when we really needed it,” Hatfield said.
The big play was preceded by Whittingham’s fiery pep talk on the sideline to his defense.
“I said, ‘You guys cannot get a takeaway,’ ” Whittingham said. “I got right in their face and said, ‘You don’t got what it takes.’ And (Hatfield) got ticked. So how is that for a series, and he made the play.”
Travis Wilson threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns, helping Utah finish with a winning conference record and rebound from last week’s rout by Arizona. Devontae Booker had 25 carries for 95 yards, including a touchdown and a key 11-yard gain in the late going to help run out the clock.
Sefo Liufau completed 20-of-31 passes for 317 yards and a touchdown but the game turned on his late interception. Colorado finished winless in league play for the first time since 1915 when the Buffaloes finished 0-5 in the Rocky Mountain Conference.
“I think the word I’d use is ‘gut-wrenching,’ ” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said after another narrow loss.
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