Wide receiver Jereme Brooks gains 10 yards in the third quarter.
Oct. 13, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -Darrell Mack kept pounding through the line with punishing runs and the Utah defense stopped the San Diego State offense with a season-high 10 tackles for losses.
"We really out-physicaled them," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said after Mack rushed 22 times for 131 yards and Louie Sakoda kicked three field goals as Utah defeated San Diego State 23-7 Saturday for the Utes' third win in a row.
"We knew coming into the game that they played a soft zone and made you earn everything you get," said Johnson. "We couldn't go over the top because they have so much depth in the secondary. In the second half, we came out with more energy and got the ball in the end zone,"
Johnson completed 21 passes in 28 attempts for 208 yards and one interception.
The Aztecs (3-3 overall, 1-1 Mountain West Conference) had just 211 yards of offense, more than 200 yards below their season average.
"We never got it going today on the field," SDSU coach Chuck Long said. "It's back to the drawing board."
"As a defense, we came out and played hard with the goal of putting them away early," said cornerback Sean Smith, who had an interception to kill an Aztec drive in the second quarter. "We wanted to dominate every facet of the game on defense."
Mack, who didn't play the first game and planned to redshirt this season before a spate of injuries crippled the Utes (4-3 overall, 1-3), topped the 100-yard mark for the third straight game.
"Darrell set the tone and gave us another solid performance," Whittingham said. "When he runs like that, it opens up opportunities."
As the Utes' ground game wore down the Aztec defense, both Utah quarterbacks found lanes for touchdown passes in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Louks hit Jereme Brooks for an 11-yard touchdown reception after Johnson completed consecutive passes of 27 and 32 yards. After Louks scrambled for 41 yards on the next Ute possession, Johnson came back in and threw a 7-yard touchdown toss to Mack for the final margin.
"Bringing in Corbin saves my shoulder," said Johnson, who separated his shoulder in the season opener against Oregon State. "He made some plays and we kept them off-balance."
The Aztecs threatened late in the fourth quarter, driving to the Utah 17-yard-line. But Kevin O'Connell threw an incomplete pass, was sacked twice and then penalized for throwing past the line of scrimmage.
Pressured all game, O'Connell completed 14 of 31 passes for 114 yards and an interception.
"The key to the game was the defense," Whittingham said. "They held San Diego State at bay from start to finish."
On Utah's opening drive, Mack rushed for 27 yards to the 2-yard-line where Corey Boudreaux forced a fumble that passed over the goal line and out the side of the end zone giving the Aztecs possession on the touchback.
Although the Utes rolled up 249 yards of total offense in the first half, they scored just three field goals, including Sakoda's career-long 51-yarder.
Sakoda lined up for a fourth field goal attempt in the final quarter but threw a looping pass to Bradon Godfrey, who came up a yard short of the first down.
"I can throw, just so you know," Sakoda said. "That play worked all week in practice. But kicking is what I do best."
"Louie is money," he said. "He's the best kicker in the country."
SDSU scored the game's first touchdown on Brandon Sullivan's 5-yard run. The drive was aided by a trick play when tight end Alston Umuolo took a pitch from O'Connell and passed it back to the quarterback for a 35-yard gain, the longest SDSU play of the game.
Aztec linebacker Russell Allen set a SDSU school record and tied the stadium record with 22 tackles (10 unassisted), which had been held since 1999 by New Mexico's Brian Urlacher.
Utah now leads the all-time series 14-12-1 over the Aztecs.