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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah kept losing the ball, and then the Utes lost their quarterback.
"We started the game off with the worst possible scenario, and then we had two turnovers in the red zone. We can't make those errors and expect to win," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
Washington quarterback Keith Price connected with wide receiver Jermaine Kearse for a 23 yard touchdown with 5 minutes left in the third quarter, extending the Huskies lead to 24-7.Quotable
"We started the game off with the worst possible scenario, and then we had two turnovers in the red zone. We can't make those errors and expect to win." - Utah coach Kyle Whittingham
Washington forced five Utah turnovers, including a fumble on the opening kickoff that Jamaal Kearse returned 18 yards for a touchdown, and the Huskies cruised to a 31-14 victory over Utah on Saturday.
Keith Price threw three touchdown passes, Chris Polk rushed for 189 yards to surpass 3,000 in his career and the Huskies (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) spoiled the Utes' first Pac-12 home game.
"Our QB responded well in the second half, and the offensive line and Chris Polk were dominant," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.
Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn did not play in the second half due to an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder. He finished 12 of 17 for 149 yards with a touchdown and interception.
Jon Hays, who threw an interception on his second pass after replacing Wynn, wasn't recruited by major programs after playing at Butte Junior College. He was headed to Nebraska-Omaha when he learned that school dropped its football program and re-routed to Utah during the summer.
Wynn's shoulder will be examined Sunday and Monday, but it looks like the Utes (2-2, 0-2) may be hitching their hopes to the vagabond QB.
"We couldn't move the ball as an offense and made some key mistakes. It starts with me, and I take full responsibility," Hays said.
Hays provided a brief spark in the fourth quarter when he evaded a rush and threw a 63-yard completion to Devonte Christopher. But on the next play, he tried to make something happen when the play dissolved, and he fumbled on Lawrence Lagafuaina's sack.
"He made some good throws, but job one of the quarterback is to take care of the ball, and he turned it over twice in the second half," Whittingham said.
The loss can hardly be solely pinned on Hays, who finished 10 of 16 for 156 yards. The Utes' defense wilted in the second half against the precise throws of Price and the pounding runs of Polk.
Price was 22 of 30 for 226 yards. He has 17 touchdown passes this season.
"I was too antsy and too anxious but then I just settled down and played how I play," Price said. "And Chris, he just opened it up for me with his running."
The Utes entered the game plus-nine in turnovers, but committed three in the first half, including the opening-kickoff fumble that gave the Huskies a 7-0 lead with just 9 seconds elapsed.
Wynn threw his second interception of the year, as Sean Parker made the grab at his own 4-yard line with 10:29 left in the quarter.
Six minutes later, Dres Anderson cut back and looked for the end zone after a pass from Wynn, but Desmond Trufant forced a fumble and recovered at the Huskies' 6-yard line.
"Those two turnovers in the first half were obviously huge for us," Sarkisian said.
Washington converted the third turnover into a 44-yard Erik Folk field goal that gave the Huskies a 10-7 halftime lead. That scoring drive kept going thanks to unsportsmanlike-conduct and pass-interference penalties against Utah.
It was all Washington in the second half as it scored 21 consecutive points.
The Huskies are off to their best start since 2006 but don't want to follow the script for that season, when they lost six straight to finish 5-7 overall.
They have a bye before facing the Pac-12's other new conference member in Colorado. Then comes a showdown at Stanford on Oct. 22 before home games against Arizona and Oregon.
Utah, meanwhile, may have to lower its expectations. The Utes had hoped to contend for the South Division title, but find themselves winless in conference play, with the meat of their schedule still to come.
They face South leader Arizona State at home next week. Even if they beat the Sun Devils, they'd probably need help along the way, though they avoid Oregon and Stanford in their inaugural season.
After a non-conference game at Pitt, Utah visits California.
Saturday's game was close early.
Wynn tied the score at 7-all with 6:59 left in the first quarter on a 16-yard TD pass to Anderson. It capped a 68-yard scoring drive in which Wynn was 4 of 4 for 66 yards, including a 36-yard sideline pass to DeVonte Christopher.
Utah's defense came up with big plays in the first half. Linebacker J.J. Williams intercepted Price at the Utah 34 on a short pass that was tipped.
"We played well on defense in the first half but couldn't finish. The second half was completely different," Whittingham said.
Polk had only 44 yards on 12 first-half carries. His first 12 carries of the second half netted 109 yards.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)