West Virginia loses to Utah in Heart of Dallas Bowl
DALLAS — Zack Moss took a third-down handoff and quickly burst through the line and into an opening in the middle of the field. Utah was off and running to another bowl victory.
Moss ran for 150 yards, including a career-long 58-yard run for a touchdown on the Utes' opening drive in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on way to a 30-14 win over West Virginia on Tuesday. They are 11-1 in postseason games under Kyle Whittingham, who matched Alabama's Nick Saban for the most bowl wins by an active coach.
“He knows how to coach the team, and he always caps the year off right,” Utah sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley said.
Huntley scored twice, both on 2-yard keepers, but they led for good in their fifth straight bowl victory after Moss broke free on a drizzly and chilly day in Cotton Bowl Stadium.
“It was very important for us to come out of the gates with a big play early on and set the tone,” said Moss, who, like Huntley, still has two seasons left with the Utes (7-6).
West Virginia (7-6) finished the season with its third consecutive loss. The Mountaineers had only 153 total yards without junior quarterback Will Grier, who broke a finger Nov. 18, and 1,000-yard rusher Justin Crawford, a senior who bypassed the bowl game in advance of the NFL Draft.
“It was a pretty disappointing loss to end a pretty disappointing season,” Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said. “If you lose guys, you need guys to step in and play at a high level, and that is the bottom line.”
Whittingham's debut as head coach was a Fiesta Bowl win at the end of the 2004 season. He co-coached that game with Urban Meyer, who took the Florida job three weeks earlier but returned to be part of Utah's postseason win over Pitt after his defensive coordinator was promoted.
Under Whittingham, the Utes prepare for bowl games like regular-season games.
“We've got a group of guys and have had several groups of guys come here that take a lot of pride in their bowl performance and the bowl record that we have,” he said. “This group was no different.”
Both of Huntley's TDs came after West Virginia miscues. The first came after a muffed punt return set up Utah up at the Mountaineers 13, and the second came after an offside penalty on a short punt gave the Utes a second chance on fourth down. Huntley then completed a 25-yard pass on the fourth-and-3 play before scoring on another short run.
KaRaun White's 18-yard touchdown catch with 2 minutes left for West Virginia put him over 1,000 yards receiving this season, along with teammate Gary Jennings. But David Sills V, who had 18 TD catches, had no catches Tuesday and finished 20 yards shy of giving the Mountaineers three 1,000-yard receivers.