SALT LAKE CITY — With just over five minutes remaining in the game, No. 13 Utah’s senior running back Zack Moss escaped for a breakaway 32-yard rushing touchdown to seal a 21-3 victory over No. 17 Arizona State Saturday and to become the all-time leading rusher in program history.
Moss entered the game needing 55 yards to break the record (3,165) set by former Ute Eddie Johnson in 1988, and was 7 yards short of the record ahead of the touchdown run. The Arizona State (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) defense limited Moss for much of the night before the Hallandale High product escaped for his second touchdown of the game.
The Florida native finished with 99 rushing yards (3,264 career) and two touchdowns on the night, one yard short of eclipsing another school record for most 100-yard rushing games in his career.
“When you consider the running backs that have come through this program and the talent level those guys — many of who played in the NFL for quite some time — that's just an outstanding achievement,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said after the win. “We're proud of him. He did a great job tonight. Those yards were tough, hard-fought yards — there was no easy yards there tonight.”
Utah (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) claimed a vital South Division win, but it came with four turnovers in the game, including three fumbles and Tyler Huntley’s first interception of the season. Utah’s first fumble came on a 36-yard reception by Moss on Utah’s first drive. Moss was just outside the red zone before he fumbled the ball as he was going to the ground.
Hallandale High teammate Demari Simpkins added a fumble of his own in the first quarter on Arizona State’s 11-yard line and Huntley another in the third quarter.
Huntley only played three quarters of the game after sustaining an injury. The senior quarterback was shaken up in the second quarter on a tackle that left him checking his leg before the training staff took him out of the game. Huntley was inserted back into the offense a few plays later on the drive to set up Utah for Moss’ first touchdown of the night, a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
The senior quarterback, though, would leave the game again in the third quarter after reinjuring his leg. Huntley finished the night throwing for 171 yards and one interception on 12-of-19 passing. In his absence, Drew Lisk got playing time in the second quarter and Jason Shelley replaced him for the remainder of the game after sustaining his second injury.
This is the ball that @PresMoss2 carried into the end zone when he broke the all-time rushing yards record and tied the record for rushing touchdowns scored.— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) October 20, 2019
He was also the recipient of tonight’s game ball. #MossWatchpic.twitter.com/fGCnuxf2Hn
Utah’s first score of the night came on an end-around from Jaylen Dixon for a 10-yard rushing touchdown to the corner of the north end zone in the second quarter.
Defensively, Utah held the Sun Devils to only 42 total yards of offense in the first half and a scoreless first half. Arizona State only managed 136 total yards of offense in the game and freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels only threw for 25 yards and one interception on 4-of-18 passing.
Junior running back Eno Benjamin had the bulk of Arizona State’s yards on the night and finished with 104 yards rushing. The Sun Devils’ receiving corps only had four catches on the night, including a 12-yard catch by Frank Darby. Arizona State’s leading receiver, Brandon Aiyuk, finished the night with only 7 yards on one reception.
Utah’s defensive line dialed up pressure all night against the Sun Devils and attacked the inexperienced Arizona State offensive line. Senior defensive end Bradlee Anae finished the night with three sacks.
“Our defense was lights out tonight,” Whittingham said. “Pass defense starts at the line of scrimmage; our front four applied pressure all night long and never let the quarterback get comfortable. I can't remember a better defensive effort, certainly not as of late.”
“Coach (Morgan) Scalley had a great scheme set up for us, and so we just went out there and executed as a defense, and it was a great night for us,” Anae said.
The game had several Utah players held out of competition for time due to injury, including Huntley and Moss, receivers Bryan Thompson and Solomon Enis, and offensive lineman Darrin Paulo. Moss sustained a hard hit to the helmet, which was later confirmed as a targeting call, but was later reinserted into the game after passing the mandated concussion protocol.
“I didn't really get injured, just had to go through the protocol and stuff,” Moss said. “I mean, I was fine. I took a nice little hit, but I was happy just to get back out there.”
In the win, Utah broke a decade-long record set by Arizona State of scoring at least 10 points in every game since 2008. The Sun Devils were one win short of 126 games with more than 10 points, which would have set a Football Bowl Subdivision record.
Utah will return to action Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium against the visiting California Golden Bears at 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FS1.