Utah Guts Out Sun Bowl Win

John White IV

Utah Guts Out Sun Bowl Win


John White IV runs for 100 yards and the Utes win. That’s been the recipe all season for the Utes and they did it again this afternoon to beat Georgia Tech 30-27 in overtime in the Sun Bowl.

The Utes certainly had hoped for even greater things than the Sun Bowl after coming so close to winning the PAC-12 South. However, Utah seemed plenty excited to be in El Paso and was ready to play. And for what it’s worth, a 2:00 Eastern kick-off on New Year’s Eve in front of a mostly full stadium is not a bad bowl game. Not to mention the game was on network TV, televised on CBS. I believe they also mentioned on the broadcast that the Sun Bowl is the second longest running bowl game. Not bad.

Congrats to the Utes and coach Kyle Whittingham who ran his bowl record to 7-1. Perhaps even bigger recognition should go to John White IV who not only scored the winning touchdown in overtime but also became the Utah single season rushing record holder with 1519 yards. He reached the mark by going for 115 yards in today’s game.

The Utah defense was again solid. They did surrender 200 yards rushing in the first half to the option attack of Georgia Tech. Thing is, they kept the scoring to a minimum and kept the game close throughout. The Utah defense only gave up 17 points as one of Tech’s TD’s was an errant throw from Jon Hays that resulted in a pick-6.

As for the Utah offense, I thought Norm Chow called a great game in his last performance as the Utah Offensive coordinator.

The Utes came out firing on the first drive of the game and it caught Georgia Tech off guard just a bit. The Utes then did the exact same thing to open the second half. Dres Anderson dropped a very catch-able ball that would have put Utah deep in Georgia Tech territory, likely resulting in at least a field goal. I also really liked the involvement of Shawn Asiata in the offense today. In addition, Chow dialed up reverses on two successive plays that were a lot of fun. The first went for big yardage and the second really should have been caught by Jon Hays for a touch-down.

Both Cougars and Utes alike will wish Chow nothing but the best and are happy to see him finally get a head coaching gig, especially in his native Hawaii.

Despite the great play calling, the Utes dug themselves a hole. After stalling out on offense and finding themselves down 17-10, DeVonte Christopher returned a kick-off 68 yards. On the very next play, Jon Hays threw an unfortunate pass up for grabs and it was intercepted and returned for a touch-down. It really turned the tide of the game, as the Utes were suddenly down 24-10 without having scored a point yet in the 2nd half.

Credit to the Utes for clawing back and going back to their horse, John White IV. Jon Hays also came through with two late TD tosses, one of them on a 4th down strike to DeVonte Christopher to tie the game. At that point, most folks figured Utah would ride the momentum into overtime and win, which they did on a John White IV 8 yard TD run.

You obviously shouldn’t read too much into bowl games – win or lose. Regardless, winning sure helps and it was nice to see Utah rebound from the Colorado debacle and go out a winner against Georgia Tech.

Utah finishes the season a respectable 8-5. They took their lumps in the first half of conference play and turned things around nicely. The defense was expected to be solid all year and it was. DeVonte Christopher and new-comer Dres Anderson were expected to make plays and they did. What no one expected was the quarterback situation would become such a struggle. The other thing no one expected was a 5’8″ JUCO transfer from L.A. Harbor College would come galloping to the rescue. Props to the Wolf Man! John White IV made the Utes go this year.




Matt Nielson has been writing about the college sports landscape in Utah and the Intermountain West since 2010. When he’s not pretending to be a professional blogger, he works full time as a residential real estate agent and house flipper. Matt graduated from Brigham Young University in 2000. He and his family reside in Salt Lake City, UT.


Leave a Reply