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Dunn's two 100-yard returns lift Utah 49-27 over Cal

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Reggie Dunn had all the right moves for Utah in setting a school record with two 100-yard kickoff returns in a 49-27 victory over California on Saturday night.

His only problem was deciding which one he liked more.


"I liked the second one better," Dunn said before quickly correcting himself. "No, the first one because it sparked team and the crowd."

That it did, as put Utah on the board on its opening possession before a "blackout" crowd of 45,017.

Reggie Topps' 17-yard fumble return for a touchdown gave Utah a 14-3 lead with 2:13 left in the first quarter. The Utes led 28-6 at halftime after a 5-yard TD run by freshman quarterback Travis Wilson.

Like that, it was over.

So was a four-game losing streak for Utah (3-5, 1-4 Pac-12), which kept alive hopes of being bowl-eligible for the 10th straight year.

"After losing four in a row, we had to win this game," said Dunn, who had a 100-yard kickoff return in 2010 against Iowa State.

Dunn credited his blockers on the first after he brought the kick out of the end zone, cut left, then took a step back to the middle before getting an escort into the other end zone.

He wasn't sure Cal would give him an opportunity for a second.

"I wanted them to kick it to me again real bad," he said.

He made them pay on the opening play of the fourth quarter.

He took the kickoff up the middle, cut sharply left, then right, evaded a tackle by Steve Williams at the Cal 12-yard line and cut back left again for the score that put Utah up 49-13.

"Somebody had the angle on me, and it felt like my leg was cramping up, but I made a move on him, stepped out of the tackle and made a play for the team, another touchdown. ... It was a wonderful, wonderful, great feeling."

The only louder cheers were reserved for Utah freshman quarterback Travis Wilson, who peeled back on a first-quarter reverse to level linebacker Nathan Broussard.

The drive went nowhere, but made all the difference to his teammates.

"That showed you everyone on this team is all in and committed to winning," Dunn said. "It was great to see a guy sell out like that."

In his third start, Wilson completed 16 of 24 passes for 156 yards. His only interception was on a wrong route by his receiver.

It helped having offensive coordinator Brian Johnson on the sidelines for the first time this year.

"Maybe it created a little more of a connection," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "It gave us a little bit of a spark."

Utah's defense got the push it needed from defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a, who reminded players they weren't making enough sacks.

"We haven't been getting our job done," defensive end Joe Kruger said. "Our main focus was just getting to the quarterback."

Utah intercepted Zach Maynard once and sacked him four times. Maynard finished 20 of 32 for 288 yards with two TDs and an interception.

All things considered, it was the worst loss of the year for the Golden Bears (3-6, 2-4). Cal outgained Utah 441-344, but turnovers and special teams mistakes were too much to overcome for the Bears, who scored a pair of late touchdowns after being kept out of the end zone for seven straight quarters.

"This doesn't happen to us very often, so I don't remember something like this," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "But again, that's what can happen if there's 14 points on kickoff returns and a scooped fumble for a touchdown. It can get away."

About the only good news was that standout receiver Keenan Allen became Cal's all-time receptions leader with 205 catches, finishing with five for 61 yards and a touchdown. But didn't get on track until the game was well in hand, thanks in part to solid play by cornerback Ryan Lacy.

"It started with film study and after that I made it a point not to let him catch a ball," Lacy said. "I held up to my word."

Allen didn't catch his first pass until 10:52 remained in the third quarter. Five plays later, Lacy made a play against Allen to break up what would have been a 29-yard TD reception.

"I got it right when the ball about to hit his hand and slapped it through," Lacy said. "After the game, he gave me congratulations on that play."

Overall, Whittingham said there was room for improvement on defense after Utah allowed Cal to average 10 yards on its first four plays, then gave up the late scores.

Offensively, it helped that Cal was missing several starters on defense.

"Whenever you have starters out, it can be a problem, but it's never just one person's fault when you give up 49 points," said Cal safety Josh Hill.

The Bears allowed Wilson to escape a sack and run for 13 yards on third-and-8 to set up Utah's third score.

Utah's fourth score came after Lacy intercepted a tipped pass with 6:33 left in the second quarter.

Wilson had the big play on the scoring drive, a third-and-17 pass to Kenneth Scott for 24 yards to the Cal 25. Running back John White also broke a tackle on third-and-5.

White finished with 105 yards on 22 carries, with two touchdowns - doubling his season total.

"Tonight it was all about 'want-to,' " White said.

A year ago, a 24-point loss to Cal lighted a fire under the Utes, who went on to finish 5-1, including a Sun Bowl victory.

They're hoping a win will do the same, with four games remaining.

"Hopefully, this will get us back on track," Dunn said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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Lynn DeBruin


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