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Utah makes a lasting impression in first-ever Rose Bowl – Orange County Register


PASADENA — Utah led the Rose Bowl against Ohio State for more than 55 minutes. And despite being down 45 to 38 with 4:22 to go in the game, the Utes never quit. In what was building to be a storybook ending, the team’s backup quarterback helped tie the game at 45 with 1:54 left in the fourth quarter.

“I think it starts with the culture that Coach Whit sets and establishes in each and every one of us,” began Utah junior linebacker Devin Lloyd, who has declared for the 2022 NFL Draft. “We have that underdog mindset where we’re never out of it.”

The Utes, who won the 2021 Pac-12 championship, were still tied with nine seconds remaining, but ultimately lost 48-45 on a 19-yard Ohio State field goal on New Year’s Day.

Utah experienced adversity on and off the field in 2021. The program tragically lost two teammates, Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe, in separate shooting deaths.

“I think this season is kind of a good metaphor for our team, right? Starting off 1-2, losing a couple of our teammates, battling back through everything,” said Utah junior wide receiver Britain Covey, who is one of the team’s captains. “I think it’s just a good metaphor for our team and for life. I think the reason why our program has that identity is because of the stability that Coach Whit’s brought to it. We kind of just feed off him.

“Most of us are one- or two-star or three-star guys coming out of high school, a lot of us are, and you kind of carry that with you and band together.”

Utah started the game in a dominating fashion against Ohio State. At the end of the first quarter, the Utes were up 14-0 courtesy of two touchdown passes by sophomore quarterback Cameron Rising. The first was a 19-yard touchdown pass from Rising to junior captain Britain Covey, who announced he’s entering the 2022 NFL Draft.

Covey, who finished with 252 all-purpose yards, also broke away for a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the midst of a second quarter in which Utah and Ohio State combined to score five touchdowns in less than three minutes.

Rising, who finished with three touchdowns, two passing, and one rushing, ended up being knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter. He was replaced by freshman Bryson Barnes, who ended up throwing a game-tying touchdown to junior tight end Dalton Kincaid with less than two minutes to go.

Meanwhile, on Ohio State’s game-winning drive with less than two minutes to go, Utah still had all three of their timeouts. However, Utah never called one.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham addressed and explained his decision in his post-game news conference. Whittingham said he thought about using the timeouts but felt like he was in a catch-22.

“If we could have got them behind the chains at least one time. Other than that, all we were doing is helping their cause, making first downs and second and short,” Whittingham explained. “They only had one timeout left. I didn’t want to help them out. It was a catch-22. Had we gotten them behind the chains, second and long, third and long, absolutely. It was in the back of my mind. But the way the drive unfolded, I don’t know if we got them to third down one time.

Meanwhile, Whittingham expanded on the reason why his team never quits.

“They have a warrior-like mentality on this football team and warriors don’t quit,” Whittingham continued. “That’s just the bottom line. There’s a great deal of mental toughness on our squad.

“The players that we recruit into the program learn from the guys that are already there. The standard is set. We have a saying the standard is the standard and that is what the expectation is.”

Whittingham added that he’s excited about the future because of the youth and talent on his team. He said 72 of the team’s 85 scholarship players are scheduled to be freshmen or sophomores next season.

Utah finished 10-4 on the season and won the school’s first-ever Pac-12 championship, which was culminated in the school’s first-ever Rose Bowl appearance, a memorable one.

 





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