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September 13, 2009

Utes push winning streak to 16 with close win

No. 17 Utah (2-0) overcame mistakes, turnovers, and three missed field goals to run the nation's longest winning streak to 16 games. This time, Utah escaped on the road as the Utes defeated San Jose State (0-2) 24-14 in a game that should not have been that close.

Utah quarterback Terrance Cain showed his dual-threat ability early on, accounting for 67 of Utah's 77-yard opening drive that ended with a one-yard Matt Asiata touchdown run. Cain had a nifty 30-yard run on that drive and ended the night with 69 yards on the ground to go with his 248 yards in the air. Turnovers and poor special teams play kept Utah off the board from that point until early in the fourth quarter, and kept San Jose State in the game.

Two Utah fumbles, one by Asiata and the other by receiver John Peel, ended promising drives and resulted in the first Spartan touchdown. Kicker Ben Vroman badly missed all three field goal attempts before being replaced by walk-on Joe Phillips. Vroman has struggled with consistency throughout his career but appeared to have solved those issues in fall camp and in the season opener against Utah State. Now it appears Vroman's hold as the place-kicker is tenuous at best. 11 penalties also hurt the Utes, especially the multiple pass interference penalties that kept San Jose State drives alive.

After a slow start with starting quarterback Kyle Reed, Jordan La Secla stepped in to spark the Spartan offense. La Secla threw for 269 yards and a touchdown, 146 of those yards coming courtesy of star receiver Kevin Jurovich. Jurovich torched the aggressive, man coverage of the Utes secondary time and time again and drew several flags for pass interference or defensive holding. Even with the passing game clicking, San Jose State could not create any room on the ground gaining just 22 yards on 22 carries. Due to the poor running game the Spartan offense could not convert on third down, moving the chains on just 3 of 12 attempts.

While Utah will gladly take the road victory, there will be plenty to work on before the Utes can think about extending the winning streak to 17 games next week.

San Jose State travels to Palo Alto next week to take on Stanford. Utah will be on the road as well, heading up the Pacific coast to take on Oregon. The Ducks held on to defeat Purdue 38-36.

Game Balls
UTAH: Jereme Brooks and Joe Dale. Brooks stepped up when Utah needed a play, and in turn broke the game open for the Utes early in the fourth quarter. On a second-and-nine play, San Jose State sent the house at Cain, who recognized the blitz and got the ball out quickly to Brooks. Brooks beat his man off the line, caught the short slant route and ran through the San Jose State secondary for a 51-yard touchdown. Brooks had a great night, with 100 all-purpose yards. Brooks caught 5 passes for 98 yards and added 2 yards on his lone carry. Dale played a terrific game, leading the Utes with 7 tackles, a tackle for loss, and was around the ball seemingly all night long.

SJSU: Jordan La Secla and Duke Ihenacho. La Secla came up big in front of the home crowd and might have won the starting job for good. La Secla had been splitting time with Reed, but Reed never saw the field after getting pulled in the first quarter. La Secla provided the spark the Spartan offense lacked and did a terrific job of getting the ball to his receivers on time and in stride. Ihenacho was a thorn in the Utes side all night long, making plays in the running game and in the passing game. The safety recorded 9 tackles and 2 pass breakups.

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