Utah State quarterback Leon Jackson (7) is swamped by Utah players during the first quarter. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
Sept. 29, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -Brian Johnson passed for two touchdowns and Derrek Richards had Utah's first punt return for a touchdown in seven years as the Utes beat Utah State 34-18 Saturday, extending their winning streak to 10 straight in the state's oldest rivalry.
Darrell Mack ran for 132 yards and a touchdown and Louie Sakoda kicked two field goals and ran a fake punt 22 yards to keep a touchdown drive in the third quarter going for the Utes (2-3), who overcame a slow start and driving snow to keep the Aggies (0-5) winless.
Richards finished with 135 yards on four punt returns. He broke one for a 75-yard touchdown early in the second quarter that put Utah ahead 14-7 and was Utah's first punt return touchdown since Steve Smith ran one back against California in 2000.
Johnson, who was making his first start since separating his shoulder in the season opener, completed 18 of 29 passes for 181 yards with two interceptions.
Utah State finished with 275 yards of offense, getting 73 in the final quarter as they tried to rally from a 34-10 deficit. The Aggies haven't won in the series since the 1997 season opener, although they did score more against the Utes than they had since a 40-20 loss in 2003.
Utah State's James Brindley returned an interception 64 yards to the 1-yard line to set up Leon Jackson's touchdown dive that put the Aggies up 7-0, but Utah State didn't get another touchdown until the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
Utah State allowed the Utes to start five drives at their own 46 or closer in the first half, including once at midfield and another at the Utah State 46. The short field made it easy on the Utes, who led 24-10 at halftime.
Utah State threatened in the third quarter, but couldn't score after getting first-and-goal from the 2. The Aggies came away with no points when Peter Caldwell's short field goal attempt went wide left, then after the defense came up with three straight stops, Utah State was caught completely off guard by Sakoda's fake punt.
Sakoda took the snap, stepped forward as if he was about to kick as the defense fell back to set up the punt return. Nobody noticed when Sakoda tucked the ball and started running 22 yards for an easy first down.
Mack finished the drive with a 3-yard run to put the Utes up 31-10 with 3:41 left. Sakoda added a 39-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
Steve Tate, who transferred to Utah from Utah State, had 13 tackles to lead Utah's defense.
Utah's Jeremy Brooks also had his first touchdown catch. Brooks had the ball taken away from him by Brindley on the interception that set up Utah State's first touchdown, but he atoned for it on a diving catch in the end zone that tied the game at 7.
Johnson was scrambling and saw Brooks, who ran around his defender to get in front and held on to the ball before it could hit the ground.