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Colter Peterson, KSL

Sam Ehlinger throws 3 TDs as Texas outplays No. 11 Utah in 38-10 Alamo Bowl win

By Josh Furlong, KSL.com | Updated - Dec. 31, 2019 at 10:29 p.m. | Posted - Dec. 31, 2019 at 8:48 p.m.


23 photos

SAN ANTONIO — For the second consecutive postseason game of the 2019 season, No. 11 Utah was outplayed.

Utah (11-3, 8-1) fell short in back-to-back games as Texas (8-5, 5-4) rolled over the Utes in a 38-10 win in the Alamo Bowl on Tuesday night to close out the season. The losers of the Pac-12 Championship Game are now 0-9 in their bowl games.

“It was a very disappointing ending to a very good season,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “This team won 11 games. When you judge the entire body of work throughout the course of the season, these things, these guys accomplished some very good things.

“But the last two football games, we got outplayed, we got out outcoached,” he added. “We have to figure out our problems and go back to work, get better, improve, continue to improve in all areas.”

After a season of dominating offensive play, Utah came out flat against Texas and allowed the Longhorns' defensive line to push it around for the majority of the game. The Utes failed to cross the middle of the field until late in the second quarter and were held to only 127 total yards of offense in the half.

Utah managed its first score of the game, a 32-yard field goal, late in the third quarter after Texas scored its third touchdown of the night, an 11-yard toss from Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger to running back Keaontay Ingram, to take a 17-0 lead. Texas was set up with prime field position on the series after Utah failed to convert on a fourth-down attempt on its own 45-yard line.

But Texas wasn't done there.

On its ensuing drive, Ehlinger ran it in for a 6-yard rushing touchdown to make it a three-score game. Ehlinger struck again in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Devin Duvernay, who finished with a team-high 92 receiving yards on three catches, and then Ingram found a crease to escape for a 49-yard rushing touchdown to ensure the rout.

Ehlinger, who was named the Alamo Bowl Offensive MVP, finished the night throwing for 201 yards and three touchdowns on 12-of-18 passing. He also added a rushing touchdown of his own to account for four touchdowns on the night.

The Utes scored their only touchdown of the game when senior quarterback Tyler Huntley completed a 4-yard pass to fellow senior and high school teammate Demari Simpkins in the corner of the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Huntley, who wrapped up his career at Utah on Tuesday, finished the night throwing for only 126 yards and one touchdown on 15-of-23 passing.

Huntley was sacked five times in the loss and threw his season’s worst completion percentage of 65.2% despite a record-setting season completion percentage of 73.1%, which ranks ninth all-time in college football.

“We just wasn’t able to find a rhythm,” Utah senior running back Zack Moss said. “We wanted to soften them in the run game and try and reduce some of that blitzing that they were doing. They were blitzing pretty much 80% of the game, so we tried to soften that up, but we weren’t able to do that.”

“We didn’t make them pay for the amount of blitzing they were doing,” Whittingham added. “We have to be able to pick it up, get the ball down the field and make them pay. We didn’t do that. We didn’t do that and we weren’t handling the pressure like we needed to.”

Utah was held to only 128 rushing yards on the night, with Moss accounting for only 57 rushing yards on 16 attempts. The team as a whole, though, only managed 254 total yards of offense on the night.

Defensively, Utah missed starters Jaylon Johnson, who elected to skip the bowl game to prepare for the upcoming NFL draft, and Julian Blackmon, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Oregon. The defense, which led the nation in run defense all season, gave up 231 rushing yards and 438 total yards of offense.

Javelin Guidry, who was tasked with going up against Texas’s top receivers in Johnson’s absence, played the receivers well, but didn’t have an answer to Ehlinger’s on-the-money passes for big gains. Guidry came down with the team’s only interception of the game on a fourth-and-two play that was picked off at Utah’s 1-yard line.

“We just weren't ourselves, I don't know,” Guidry said. “We practiced hard and we came to the stage, we just weren't ourselves.”

Former Utah quarterback Alex Smith and former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy were in attendance Tuesday. The two were their respective team’s honorary captains for the Alamo Bowl.

Photos

Josh Furlong

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