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Utah rides ground game to another bowl win

Utah rides ground game to another bowl win
Published On: Thu, Dec 29
Apr 19, 2014; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers running back Marcus Murphy (6) runs the ball as defensive lineman Marcus Loud (35) tries to stop him during the Black & Gold Game at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Utah running back Joe Williams was an unlikely hero of Wednesday's Foster Farms Bowl, considering he had retired from football early in the season and was sick as a dog on Tuesday.

But Williams was there when he was needed most, rushing for 222 yards and providing most of the work in the game-winning drive that gave 19th-ranked Utah a 26-24 victory over Indiana.

"He was fantastic," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who improved his record to 10-1 in bowl games. "Joe was so sick last night, running a fever, we weren't sure we would have him today."

Williams ran for 168 yards in the second half and he had 64 of the yards in the 68-yard drive that set up Andy Phillips' 27-yard field goal with 1:24 left that put the Utes (9-4) ahead and continued their postseason success. Utah has won its last four bowl games and 13 of its last 14.

"I just had some sinus trouble and coughs," said Williams, who revealed that he got married a few weeks ago. "My wife told me this is our last ride. So I had to do like the Jordan flu game."

Williams was referring to a 1997 NBA Finals game when the Bulls' Michael Jordan scored 38 points in a victory over the Utah Jazz despite being weakened by the flu.

Williams was not even a member of the Utah team for a while this season. On Sept. 13, three days after Utah beat BYU, Williams retired from football for a variety of reasons, announcing his decision to his team. Injuries robbed the Utes of several running backs, so the coaching staff asked Williams if he would come back. A month after Williams announced his retirement, the 23-year-old senior was back.

"He's got good vision and patience and he's really fast," Indiana coach Tom Allen said.

Wednesday's result made a loser of Allen in his first game as a head coach. He replaced Kevin Wilson, who resigned on Dec. 1.

"It's been a hard month," said Allen. "I'm disappointed but I'm proud of our team, how they took a tough situation, and had our chances, but we couldn't finish.

"My first coaching experience was in a bowl. I consider myself extremely blessed."

Quarterback Richard Lagow, who completed just 14 of 39 passes for 188 yards, one touchdown and one interception for Indiana (6-7), was unable to rally the Hoosiers on their final possession.

Zander Diamont threw a 36-yard touchdown pass on his only passing attempt of the game for the Hoosiers, but he did not play in the second half.

Utah quarterback Troy Williams was 11 of 23 for 178 yards and an interception.

Utah won despite committing four turnovers, while Indiana committed three. One of those Utah turnovers came on the opening kickoff, giving Indiana the ball at the Utah 11-yard line, leading to the game's first touchdown.

Neither team was able to break away. The Utes held a 17-7 lead in the first half, but the Hoosiers tied it 17-17 at halftime.

A pair of Phillips field goals put the Utes ahead 23-17, but Indiana took a 24-23 lead with 10:10 left in the fourth quarter on Devine Redding's 4-yard scoring run.

On Utah's next possession, Joe Williams fumbled the ball away at the Hoosiers' 29-yard line, but Indiana's Griffin Oakes missed a 41-yard field-goal attempt at the end of that possession.

That gave Utah the chance it needed, and Joe Williams made it pay off.

It was Indiana's second straight close postseason loss after dropping an overtime game to Duke in last season's Pinstripe Bowl.

"It sucks," said Indiana senior offensive lineman Dan Feeney. "You never want to go out with a loss, but ..."

NOTES: The last time Indiana finished a season with a winning record was 2007, and that was the Hoosiers' only winning season since 1994. ... Indiana, which lost to Duke in last season's Pinstripe Bowl, participated in bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1990 and 1991. The Hoosiers' last bowl victory came in 1991, when they beat Baylor 24-0 in the Copper Bowl.

Read the complete news article here...


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