A Washington State team that was shorthanded in the offensive backfield struggled to capitalize in the red zone, conceded three turnovers and failed to secure its first Pac-12 victory of the 2021 season, losing 24-13 to Utah Saturday afternoon at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Cougars had an opportunity to punch in the go-ahead score with under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when cornerback Clark Phillips returned Jarrett Guarantano’s interception for a touchdown, giving the Utes a decisive multiple-score lead.
After entering the game without starting quarterback Jayden de Laura, who sustained an injury in the second quarter of last week’s loss to USC, the Cougars also lost Max Borghi when the all-conference running back appeared to injure his left hand early in the second quarter.
Despite failing to score touchdowns on three red-zone opportunities in the first half, the Cougars entered halftime trailing just 7-6 and were able to take a 13-10 lead into the fourth quarter courtesy of Guarantano’s 26-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver De’Zhaun Stribling.
Both teams squandered opportunities to establish leads both early and late in Saturday’s game. Guarantano, the graduate transfer from Tennessee making his second start in a WSU uniform, was intercepted three times and the Cougars scored just six first-half points despite three trips to the red zone. The Cougars also conceded seven sacks, the most in eight games under second-year coach Nick Rolovich.
The Utes lost three fumbles and nearly committed a fourth turnover when tight end Cole Fotheringham appeared to lose the ball before falling to the turf on WSU’s 39-yard line. One of Utah’s fumbles came within a yard of the goal line when running back Chris Curry had the ball knocked loose on a run into the end zone.
But Kyle Whittingham’s team made the game’s decisive play with 2:19 left when Phillips stepped in front of Guarantano’s pass intended for Donovan Ollie and returned it 54 yards the other way, giving the home team a 11-point lead.
Guarantano finished 25 of 36 for 248 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions while Utah’s Cam Rising was 13 of 23 for 137 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. Spelling Borghi, WSU running back Deon McIntosh rushed 13 times for 59 yards. Stribling was the game’s leading receiver with six receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown.
15:00 - WSU 0, UU 0: WSU receives the opening kickoff with Jarrett Guarantano in at quarterback.
12:50 - WSU 0, UU 0: Jarrett Guarantano completes a 12-yard pass to Travell Harris on third-and-10 across midfield.
11:25 - WSU 0, UU 0: Lincoln Victor goes in motion from the wide receiver position, before going under center and attempting a sneak, but is stopped for no gain on fourth-and-one.
10:11 - WSU 0, UU 0: Micah Bernard runs for seven yards near midfield and converts the Utes first third down attempt of the game.
8:50 - WSU 0, UU 0: Justus Rogers nearly intercepts Cameron Rising on third down, and would have had an open lane to the end zone, but the pass falls incomplete. WSU takes over on its own 17 after a Utah punt.
7:27 - WSU 0, UU 0: Max Borghi rushes to the right side for 18 yards to the Utes’ 45. Cougar offense moving quickly into Utah territory.
5:07 - WSU 0, UU 0: Jarrett Guarantano completes an 8-yard pass to Donovan Ollie on fourth down. The Cougars were previously stopped on third and one on a quarterback draw attempt.
2:48 - WSU 0, UU 0: Jarrett Guarantano’s pass is intercepted by Karene Reid at the Utah 12, returned for 13 yards to the Utes’ 25. Guarantano was 4-of-5 for 44 yards before the interception.
1:29 - WSU 0, UU 0: Cameron Rising throws incompletions on second and third down and the Cougar defense forces a punt that goes into the end zone for a touchback.
0:04 - WSU 0, UU 0: Jarrett Guarantano is sacked hard by Junior Tafuna for a 7-yard loss on first down. WSU previously picked up 23 yards on its first two plays of the drive.
14:50 - WSU 0, UU 0: Max Borghi runs for a 3-yard gain and Karene Reid is called for a facemask on the tackle. Borghi appeared to be shaken up on the play and went to the sideline.
12:00 - WSU 0, UU 0: The Cougars drive to the Utah 17, but Jarrett Guarantano is sacked for a loss of 14 on second down.
10:34 - WSU 3, UU 0: Dean Janikowski’s 39-yard field goal is good.
9:06 - WSU 3, UU 0: Ron Stone Jr. sacks Cameron Rising on third down for a loss of 9. The Cougar defense has allowed 31 yards on three drives. The Utes are 1-of-4 on third downs.
7:12 - WSU 3, UU 0: Deon McIntosh is stuffed for a loss of 2 on third and long. Cougars’ punt goes for a touchback. Max Borghi reportedly has gone into the locker room with an injury.
5:53 - WSU 3, UU 0: Cameron Rising shows a great burst of speed on the edge rushing for 31-yards and nearly doubling the Utes’ offense output on one play. A facemask penalty on Daniel Isom tacks on 15 yards to the WSU 33.
4:14 - UU 7, WSU 3: Ja’Quinden Jackson enters at quarterback for the Utes’ goal line package and runs in a 2-yard touchdown. Utah goes 80 yards in six plays and take 2:18 off the clock.
1:42 - UU 7, WSU 3: WSU driving into Utah territory before halftime. Jarrett Guarantano completes a 22-yard pass to De’Zhaun Stribling to the Utes’ 34.
0:01 - UU 7, WSU 6: Dean Janikowski’s 21-yard field goal is good.
The Cougars trail the Utes 7-6 at halftime, despite controlling the majority of the game. WSU leads 212-96 on total yards and has 14:01 minutes more of time of possession.
WSU squandered multiple opportunities deep in Utah territory and were unable to find the end zone. The Cougar defense was stout until the Utes’ final possession of the half, where Utah drove 80 yards in just over two minutes.
The Cougars will likely be without Max Borghi, as they aim to put together their first solid second half performance of the year against a FBS opponent.
14:55 - UU 7, WSU 6: Ron Stone Jr. forces a fumble on Utah’s first play of the second half, recovered by Christian Mejia. Cougars take over on the Utes’ 21.
13:40 - WSU 13, UU 7: Jarrett Guarantano completes a 26-yard touchdown to De’Zhaun Stribling over the middle.
11:49 - WSU 13, UU 7: Cameron Rising completes a 13-yard pass to Cole Fotheringham to the Cougar 39. Daniel Isom stripped the ball, which appeared to be clearly out before the runner was down and was recovered by WSU, but the ruling on the field stands.
9:15 - WSU 13, UU 10: Jadon Redding’s 28-yard field goal is good. Cougars’ defense comes away with a red zone stand.
6:28 - WSU 13, UU 10: Devin Lloyd makes an athletic interception off of Jarrett Guarantano on the defensive line, batting the pass with an outstretched arm to himself. Utes take over on the WSU 19.
5:45 - WSU 13, UU 10: Travion Brown answers the Utah interception with a turnover of his own, forcing a fumble on Ja’Quinden Jackson on the WSU 8, recovered by Jaylen Watson.
5:38 - WSU 13, UU 10: Deon McIntosh breaks off a 24-yard run down the left side to open the Cougar drive.
4:04 - WSU 13, UU 10: Van Fillinger sacks Jarrett Guarantano for a loss of 8. Critain Covey returns the punt 19 yards to the Utes’ 46.
1:01 - WSU 13, UU 10: Jadon Redding shanks a 31-yard field goal wide left. Cougars defense holds in the redzone for the second time this half.
12:52 - WSU 13, UU 10: Jarrett Guarantano’s pass falls incomplete on third and one on the WSU 48. Cougars line up to go for it on fourth down, but are called for delay of game.
11:35 - WSU 13, UU 10: T.J. Pledger explodes up the middle for a 59-yard run down to the WSU 15. Another redzone opportunity for the Utes.
10:18 - WSU 13, UU 10: Daniel Isom forces Chris Curry to fumble on the WSU 1, recovered by the Cougars in the endzone. Three points on three redzone trips for the Utes in the second half.
4:43 - UU 17, WSU 13: T.J. Pledger runs up the middle for a 20-yard touchdown. Utes finally break through in the second half.
2:19 - UU 24, WSU 13: Jarrett Guarantano’s pass is intercepted by Clark Phillips and returned 54 yards for a touchdown. Clear miscommunication from Guarantano and Calvin Jackson Jr. on the play.
Washington State will travel to play Utah in Salt Lake City at 11:30 a.m. on the Pac-12 Network and 920-FM.
The Cougars (1-2) are coming off a 45-14 loss to USC, where WSU collapsed in the second half and allowed 45 consecutive points. The Utes (1-2) lost 33-31 in 3OT to San Diego State, missing the final 2-pt conversion attempt as part of the NCAA’s new overtime rules where teams trade 2-pt attempts after the second overtime.
The all-time series between WSU and Utah is tied at nine games apiece dating back to 1966. The series is also tied at four games apiece since the Utes joined the Pac-12 in 2011. The Cougars have lost the past two meetings, both in Utah. WSU pulled ahead to a 28-7 lead in last year’s game, before allowing 38 consecutive points and losing 45-28. That was the final game of the Cougars’ 2020 season.
WSU QB Jarrett Guarantano will make his second start of the season.
Jayden de Laura was not dressed coming out of the tunnel. He was in uniform with a brace on his leg and took a few snaps in warm-ups.
Salt Lake showdown
The Cougars will be wearing anthracite helmets and pants with white jerseys for their first road game of the season.
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