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Jacob Wiegand, Deseret News

Utes spring game featured QB battle, game-winning 57-yard field goal

By Lexi Lewis, KSL.com  |  Posted Apr 14th, 2018 @ 7:35pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Spring football has come to an end for the University of Utah, as they concluded with their annual Red-White game in a thrilling finish.

The White team thought they secured the victory after quarterback Drew Lisk threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Samson Nacua with 33 seconds remaining. But placekicker Matt Gay wasn’t going to let that happen as he answered back with a 57-yard field goal as time expired to put the Red team back on top with a 25-23 victory.

“Great way to end spring” said Lou Groza award winner Matt Gay. “They came to me on the sideline at the end of game and asked what do you got in you and I said get as far down the field as you can and I’ll kick it.”

When asked if there were any doubts on his extra long field goal, he replied with none whatsoever; he was confident in his ability.

“Confidence is key especially in kicking. You have to be confident with your ability. They call me ‘Matty ice.’ They say you got to have ice in your veins, you’ve got to live for those moments. Every kicker wants those moments when you get them.

“Whether it’s in a big game or a scrimmage like this, you’ve got to take advantage of them”

Head coach Kyle Whittingham said he also had no doubts in his kicker.

“100 percent confident in the guy. He can kick from 60+. He’s not the Lou Groza award winner for nothing,” Whittingham said. “He handles the pressure, he’s got a strong leg, he’s the whole package”

As for the quarterback position, Tyler Huntley sits on top for the starting position, but the rest of the pecking order is up for grabs.

All four quarterbacks showed off their different strengths and had shinning moments.

Huntley had a great spring outing, but only played the first half of the scrimmage. He finished the day with 85 yards going 11-of-14 with one touchdown and no interceptions.

Lisk finished the day with the best stats: 133 yards on 8-of-12 throwing and two touchdowns. But Huntley still has the starting position, Whitingham said.

“His running ability is so dynamic as we found out last year — a lot of his playmaking is not going to show up in a game like this but he is coming out of spring as No. 1.”

For Freshman Jack Tuttle, he finished the game with 86 yards and went 8-of-14, throwing one touchdown and two interceptions. For his first game, Tuttle did show potential though.

“He made some nice throws,” offensive coordinator Troy Taylor said. “He had a couple that he would probably like back but he’ll learn from that.”

Jason Shelly emerged as a competitor in the QB backup race. He went 11-of-14 picking up 85 years with one touchdown.

“It was a great outing for the quarterbacks,” Whittingham said. “I thought they made plays, they had poise in the pocket, kept their eyes down field rather than staring at the rush, made good decisions. Aside from the interceptions, I thought it was a good outing for the quarterbacks.”

Armand Shyne returned to the running back position for the Utes after two season-ending injuries. He finished the game with seven carries rushing for 28 yards for the Red team.

The defensive side of the ball was hard to gage with key players being held out and playing a basic defense. The young talent looks promising, though.

“The primary thing is seeing a lot of guys who haven’t played a ton of football for us get a chance in a game like situation as we can create and see what response we can get out of them gives us a good idea of who can help us out in fall and who isn’t quite ready,” said Whittingham on the performance of the spring game.

Those players held out for Saturdays scrimmage were: Jackson Barton, Lo Falemaka, Darrin Paulo, Johnny Capra, Paul Toala, Rex Jordan, Caleb Repp, Bradlee Anae, Bryan Thompson, Tyquez Hampton, Chase Hansen, Donovan Thompson, Sione Lund, Zack Moss, Devonta’e Henry-Cole, Philip Afia, Quinn Fabrizio, Corrion Ballard, Marquise Blair, Jaylon Johnson, and Julian Blackmon.


Lexi Lewis is studying public relations at Utah Valley University. You can follow her on twitter @lex_lew1018.

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