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Cam Rising leads comeback, but Utes fall 33-31 in 3OT to Aztecs

Utah wide receiver Britain Covey (18) runs to the end zone for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against San Diego State Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Carson, Calif

Utah wide receiver Britain Covey (18) runs to the end zone for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against San Diego State Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Carson, Calif (Ashley Landis, AP Photo)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

CARSON, Calif. — The only thing saving Utah from its poor offensive play Saturday night was the multitude of timeouts taken on CBS Sports Network. But even that wasn't enough in a game where Utah couldn't find a rhythm for the second-straight week.

That is until Cameron Rising entered the game late in the third quarter.

Replacing starting quarterback Charlie Brewer due to inefficient play, which included a telegraphed a pass that was picked off by San Diego State's Tayler Hawkins and nearly returned for a touchdown, Rising brought a new "spark," as Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham called it, to the offense.

It took Rising until the fourth quarter to get going, but trailing the Aztecs by 14 points, he rejuvenated the offense and led a second-half comeback that was capped off with a 13-play, 74-yard touchdown drive. Facing third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Rising found Theo Howard open in the back of the end zone to make it a 2-point game.

Rising followed it up with a toss to Solomon Enis in the end zone for a successful 2-point conversion to tie the game and to send it into overtime.

In the extended play, San Diego State quickly found the end zone on a 2-yard toss to Jay Rudolph. But Rising equalized on a 25-yard pass to Jaylen Dixon to keep the game going.

Utah failed to get a first down in the second overtime period and tried for a 37-yard field goal, but placekicker Jadon Redding missed the attempt — he also missed a PAT earlier in the game. As a result of the missed kick, San Diego State played for the field goal but found itself missing a 37-yard kick, as well.

But the Aztecs got it done in the third overtime period on a reverse play where receiver Jesse Matthews found quarterback Lucas Johnson open in the end zone on a 2-point conversion attempt — a new rule for games going into the third overtime period. Utah equalized on a pass from Rising, but a review of the play overturned the call.

Game over.

San Diego State (3-0) players rushed the field with the news as the Aztecs remained undefeated in a 33-31 win over Utah — the program's first win over the Utes since 2005.

It's a game, though, that Utah (1-2) had no business being in or trying to steal a win in a third overtime period. For the second-straight week, Utah got beat.

Utah's offensive line couldn't contain San Diego State's blitzes (or any type of pressures) and Brewer spent much of the night in the dirt or running for his life — the same thing could be said for whoever lined up in the backfield for the Utes for much of the game — as the Aztecs managed eight tackles for loss, including three sacks, which all but one TFL came in the first half.

The Aztecs couldn't be stopped and Utah couldn't get going — at least on one side of the ball.

Fortunately for the Utes, the same thing played out on the opposite side of the ball. Utah's defense lived in San Diego State's backfield and held the Aztecs to 79 yards in the first half and managed five tackles for loss and a sack at the halftime break.

That was until the second half.

San Diego State opened up the third quarter with an eight-play, 82-yard drive — made up mostly on a 54-yard run by quarterback Lucas Johnson — to claim the first offensive touchdown of the game for either team and the go-ahead score.

But the Aztecs weren't satisfied with just one score. On the ensuing drive, Brewer telegraphed a pass that was picked off by Tayler Hawkins and nearly returned for a touchdown before Brewer knocked Hawkins out of bounds at Utah's 7-yard line. One play later, running back Greg Bell found pay dirt on a 7-yard rushing touchdown to give the Aztecs a quick 14-point lead.

Bell led the Aztecs with 119 rushing yards as part of a 204-yard rushing night total for the home team.

Utah had only one touchdown — an 80-yard punt return by Britain Covey to give the Utes a 7-0 lead four minutes into the game — before Rising, who finished throwing for 153 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-32 passing, led the team in a comeback. Utah's only other score on the night came in the first half on a 43-yard field goal by Jadon Redding.

Right after the field goal, though, San Diego State's Jordan Byrd returned the kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown to even up Utah's score in the first half.

Brewer finished the night throwing for 104 yards and one interception on 14-of-26 passing before being benched with 5:24 left in the third quarter.

Johnson threw for only 44 yards and one touchdown on 10-of-19 passing for the Aztecs, but added 87 yards rushing on eight carries and the 2-point conversion catch to win the game.

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