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Tempe, Ariz. • Make it 39 years.
With Arizona falling to UCLA earlier in the evening, Utah had an opportunity to take pole position as the lone remaining one-loss team in the Pac-12 South race.
But they had to beat the Sun Devils, which they hadn't done since 1976, and in 10 tries.
And they didn't.
In overtime Saturday, sophomore captain Andy Phillips missed for the first time in 13 tries, from 35 yards, and counterpart Zane Gonzalez hit from 36 to win 19-16 and instead cement Arizona State's place atop the standings.
"Give credit to Arizona State," said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. "They made one more play than we did."
The Utes were outgained 444 to 241, but it was less one-sided during the game's crucial moments, when dropped interceptions by Justin Thomas and Dominique Hatfield might've negated the need for overtime.
Ultimately, Utah's offense reverted to its early form, when they had no answer for Todd Graham's blitz-happy scheme.
"In hindsight, we probably should have thrown a little bit more," Whittingham conceded.
Dave Christensen's offense had totaled just 48 yards heading into the final drive of the first half, until once again they found themselves moving the chains through a balance of run, short passing and running some more.
Down 13-3 late in the second quarter, the Utes more than doubled their yardage total in setting up a 36-yard field goal from Phillips, and then started the second half with 58 combined yards rushing from Travis Wilson and Devontae Booker before Wilson found Booker on a 4-yard pass to knot the game at 13 and sap the energy out of Sun Devil Stadium.
Utah's defense playing without senior free safety Tevin Carter and senior corner Eric Rowe for undisclosed reasons began to shore up after a 255-yard shredding in the first half. They stopped the Sun Devil attack, and the Utes drove and set up Phillips' third field goal, a 44-yarder.
Arizona State tied it after an eight-play, 61-yard drive, and a Gonzalez 30-yarder, with 5:47 remaining.
Utah was unable to score again in regulation, and some screwy clock management gifted Arizona State a Hail Mary opportunity, for which Graham inserted backup quarterback Mike Bercovici. Alas, his pass was intercepted by true freshman Marcus Williams to force overtime.
In other words, it was a typical Pac-12 finish for the Utes: Utah has now played five Pac-12 games, every one of them in doubt in the fourth quarter, and gone 3-2.
Afterward, Phillips was distraught, having first overestimated a right-to-left wind on a kick that was canceled out by a Utah timeout they ran out of time for the snap and then underestimating the same wind on the fatal attempt.
"Usually, those situations are something that I thrive in," he said, trailing off. "Nobody's harder on themselves than I am on myself for not putting the ball through the uprights."
Booker rushed 37 times for 146 yards, but Wilson went just 12 for 22 for 57 yards, and Utah sorely missed the deep threat of Dres Anderson, lost for the season against USC.
The game opened much as it did two years ago in Tempe, during a 37-7 Utah loss, except Arizona State did not pile on the points, despite dominating both sides of the line of scrimmage.
After the Sun Devils marched 61 yards on their first four plays, they stalled in the Ute red zone and settled for a 20-yard Gonzalez field goal, to take a 3-0 advantage.
Next drive, same story. Taylor Kelly drove downfield in short order but suddenly lost momentum before Gonzalez hit a 45-yard field goal.
After Gionni Paul picked off Kelly's fourth-down pass in Utah territory for his fourth interception in just six games played, Phillips drilled a 50-yard field goal good from 60 and the U. moved within three.
The Sun Devils seemed to finally seize control on the ensuing drive, with Kelly finding Jaelen Strong in the far-right corner of the end zone to cap a five-play, 75-yard drive.
Kelly finished just 18-of-31 for 205 yards and one touchdown in his second game back from a foot injury. He was sacked four times, including twice by Hunter Dimick, who has nine for the season.
The South title may still be within reach. But it doesn't get any easier.
Next Saturday, the Utes move on from the Pac-12 South leaders to the Pac-12 North leaders when they host No. 5 Oregon, fresh off a 45-16 walloping of Pac-12 North rivals Stanford.