PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Zack Moss and Utah rushed their way to another big Pac-12 win.
Moss gained a career-high 211 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns, helping the 23rd-ranked Utes beat UCLA 41-10 on Friday night.
“We got back to playing Utah football and we’ve been able to do a lot of good things,” Moss said.
Britain Covey had 132 all-purpose yards and threw a touchdown pass for the Utes (6-2, 4-2), who won their fourth consecutive game. Armand Shyne ran for a touchdown and Matt Gay kicked two field goals.
Utah leads the Pac-12 South by one game over Southern California and holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Trojans with three conference games remaining. The Utes are the only team from the South that has not played in the conference title game.
Utah scored 28 straight points after falling behind 7-3 in the first quarter. Covey threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cole Fotheringham off a reverse to make it 10-7 midway through the second quarter, and Moss had 1-yard touchdown runs in the second and third quarter.
“Some of those runs Zack made were sheer toughness and willpower,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “He’s like a sledgehammer in between the tackles.”
Shyne’s 2-yard touchdown run made it 31-7 after Julian Blackmon picked off Wilton Speight, who started for UCLA the first time since sustaining a back injury in the season opener against Cincinnati.
Joshua Kelley ran for 90 yards and a touchdown, but the Bruins (2-6, 2-3) were unable to get their third straight win. Speight was 20 of 40 for 164 yards passing with two interceptions.
“I feel we got outplayed today,” safety Adarius Pickett said. “We had some dropped balls on offense. Our special teams had a few penalties, and we didn’t play too good.”
Kelley had a 25-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-inches in the first quarter to give UCLA an early lead, but the Bruins defense could not keep Moss and Utah’s rushing offense in check. Utah finished with 325 yards on the ground and averaged 6.5 yards per carry.
“We didn’t tackle well in the first half, didn’t tackle well in the second half,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said.
Joe Williams, who rushed for a school single-game record 332 yards at UCLA in 2016, had playfully warned Moss not to break his mark during a 41-28 win over USC last Saturday. Moss admitted he was thinking about the record after the Bruins allowed 289 yards rushing to Arizona, but he was more than satisfied with another Pac-12 win.
“Everyone is just flowing in the right direction and we need to, especially at the back end of the year,” Moss said. “It’s like we’re fresh and everyone else is dead right now because we’ve worked so hard.”
The only misstep for Utah occurred when safety Marquise Blair was ejected for targeting in the third quarter, meaning the senior will miss the first half at Arizona State. Blair made helmet-to-helmet contact with Speight when he was sliding at the end of an 11-yard run.
Utah: The Utes avoided the letdown that has kept them from winning the Pac-12 South in previous seasons. Utah had followed home wins over Southern California in 2014 and 2016 with road losses, but there was no such slip-up this season.
UCLA: The Bruins still have work to do. Consecutive wins might have created the impression UCLA had turned the corner in Kelly’s first season, but there were too many drops, penalties and missed tackles when Utah appeared vulnerable early on.
With a fourth straight impressive win, Utah will be in the Top 25 for the second straight week. A resume that includes narrow losses to No. 15 Washington and No. 14 Washington State might also get a closer examination from voters.
Covey, a former high school quarterback, continues to make the most of every chance he gets to throw the ball. The sophomore is 3-of-3 passing for 71 yards and two touchdowns this season. He had a chance to add to that total on a double pass in the third quarter, but UCLA had the receiver covered and Covey took off for a 19-yard run.
“Trick play passes have a high percentage (of success) and I prefer to keep it that way,” said Covey, who had five receptions for 47 yards.
Utah players and coaches wore decals remembering Utes runner Lauren McCluskey, a 21-year-old senior who was shot and killed on campus Monday night. A moment of silence for McCluskey was also held prior to the game.
Utah: At Arizona State on Saturday, Nov. 3.
UCLA: At Oregon on Saturday, Nov. 3.
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