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Pasadena, Calif. • They brought pressure. They recovered an onside kick. They switched quarterbacks.
Utah pulled out every last one of the stops.
And suddenly, their 2014 ambitions look very different.
With junior Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson taking over for junior Travis Wilson in the first quarter, Utah stunned No. 8 UCLA 30-28 on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.
For the second consecutive week, Utah owned a 27-21 lead with a handful of minutes left.
For the second consecutive week, they saw it slip away. Bruins senior Brett Hundley, beating Utah's pass rush for one of the few times all night, delivered a strike to Eldridge Massington for a 49-yard, go-ahead score.
But this time, the Utes had an answer, driving 63 yards on 10 plays and setting up Andy Phillips' game-winning kick from 29 yards.
UCLA drove and had two shots to win it. The first, a 55-harder from Ka'imi Fairbairn, was missed, but Eric Rowe was called for running into the kicker. Fairbairn tried again from 50 and missed again, and the Utes streaked onto the field to celebrate their most impressive road win since joining the Pac-12.
After Wilson struggled, Thompson went 7-for-7 in relief in the first half, including a 42-yard toss to the right corner of the end zone that was caught by senior Dres Anderson as he rag-dolled backward to the ground, and finished 10 for 13 with 95 yards and one touchdown, adding 83 yards on the ground.
Junior Devontae Booker, having earned the No. 1 job with a 178-yard performance against Wazzu, rushed 33 times for 156 yards and one touchdown, including a 6-yard rumble late in the third quarter that put the Utes up 24-14 and answered the home favorite's bruising play with punishment of his own.
Teams then traded punts, but after Tom Hackett's 45-yard effort pinned UCLA at its 6, Hundley found a streaking Devin Fuller for a 93-yard stroll unopposed into the Utah end zone to bring it to 24-21 with 12 minutes left.
Utah's defensive line relentlessly pressured UCLA junior quarterback Brett Hundley, especially on clear passing situations when they didn't have to honor the threat of sophomore tailback Paul Perkins, who finished with 99 yards on 17 carries.
Senior defensive end Nate Orchard sacked Hundley four times, and Hunter Dimick (2.5), Andre Godfrey (1), Justin Thomas (1), Sese Ianu (1) and Jared Norris (.5) pitched in. Utah's 10 sacks were their most in a game since 1983.
Senior free safety Tevin Carter, whose status was in doubt after missing Utah's 28-27 loss to Washington State the previous Saturday, started and returned an errant Hundley pass 27 yards for the game's first score, with six minutes remaining in the first quarter. Utah followed the score with an onside kick recovered by Phillips reminiscent of a similar attempt in Phillips' first-ever start against Utah State, and Utah's offense began to build some momentum with Thompson at the helm. His pass to Anderson gave the Utes a 14-0 lead and helped the Los Angeles-area native redeem crucial drops in the Utes' loss to the Cougars.
UCLA answered with a 10-play, 82-yard drive, riding Perkins and exacting some vengeance against the Utes defensive line for its treatment of Hundley.
Phillips drilled a 48-yard field goal from the left hash with two seconds left in the half to send the Utes into the locker room with a 17-7 lead, and with 6 minutes left in the fourth coolly struck again from 45 yards to give Utah a six-point lead.
UCLA regained some mojo midway through the third, when a Hundley pass to Myles Jack was bobbled and caught by Utah sophomore cornerback Justin Thomas, only to be overturned because Ianu pushed Hundley a tick or two after he released the ball.
Eddie Vanderdoes plowed in from one yard out to bring the deficit to just three, and after a 13-play, 80-yard drive, seemingly seize the momentum in the trenches.
Not to be understated is the impact of Hackett, who helped the visitors control field position with a range of punts high, angled, on the run that pinned UCLA deep within its own side of the field. He finished with eight punts for 394 yards, including four inside the 11.