Utah's Martail Burnett (93) makes a 55 yard interception return for a touchdown. (AP Photo/Amy Conn-Gutierrez)
Oct. 18, 2007
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -Darrell Mack pounded his way for 100 yards rushing with a touchdown and Utah won its fourth straight game since starting quarterback Brian Johnson returned from injury, beating TCU 27-20 on Thursday night.
Mack's fourth straight 100-yard game - on 32 carries - and Johnson's return coincide with the winning streak that has kept the Utes (5-3, 2-2 Mountain West) on the fringe of contending for the conference title.
Johnson, who missed three games after separating his shoulder in the season opener, completed 13 of 20 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. His only interception didn't hurt the Utes.
Mack and Johnson accounted for all but seven of Utah's 227 total yards.
TCU (4-4, 1-3), with three 11-win seasons the past four years, already has three losses to teams ahead of the Horned Frogs in the Mountain West standings.
Chris Manfredini kicked a 41-yard field goal for TCU with 2:07 left and the Frogs thought they had the ball back when David Hawthorne recovered an onside kick. But officials ruled Hawthorne touched the ball before it went 10 yards, and confirmed that after a lengthy replay review.
TCU's Andy Dalton, the redshirt quarterback who won the starting job in preseason drills, was 20-of-45 for 159 yards with four interceptions. He had been picked off only four times the first six games and was coming off a 344-yard game in a win at Stanford.
Martail Burnett, Utah's 262-pound senior defensive end, returned one of the interceptions 55 yards for a touchdown with 54 seconds left in the first half. It was Burnett's first career interception and put Utah ahead 24-14.
Louie Sakoda's 41-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter was Utah's only score after halftime.
Before the season began, the Utah-TCU game stood out as one to watch - Utah, the original BCS buster with its undefeated 2004 season, against TCU, which twice since 2001 was poised to become the first non-BCS team to break into a big-money bowl before a late-season loss.
Mack's 1-yard TD run capped an game-opening 58-yard drive, and Sakoda kicked a 31-yard field goal after Dalton's first interception.
The Horned Frogs used special teams and a trick play early in the second quarter to erase a 10-0 deficit.
Daryl Washington blocked his third punt of the season, deflecting Sakoda's kick straight up into the air. The ball bounced into the hands of Stephen Hodge, who returned it 31 yards for a touchdown.
Utah then went three-and-out, and Brian Bonner had a 30-yard punt return.
After Dalton handed off to Jeremy Kerley sweeping right, it was a throwback to Dalton, who gained 27 yards to the 1. That set up Marcus Brock's TD run that put TCU up 14-10.
Utah went ahead to stay at 17-14 when Johnson threw a 24-yard TD to Marquis Wilson with 3:20 left in the first half.
Manfredini, who later missed a 22-yarder, made a 37-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to get the Frogs to 24-17. His kick hit the left upright and barely cleared the crossbar when it dropped straight down.