At a cold, dreary Cotton Bowl, Utah holds a 17-3 lead over a depleted West Virginia team halfway through the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.
After forcing a three-and-out to open the game, Utah got on the board when Zack Moss burst through the West Virginia defense for a 58-yard touchdown run. And considering the state of West Virginia’s offense that score alone may be enough for the Utes.
West Virginia is playing without its starting backfield of Will Grier and Justin Crawford, and backup quarterback Chris Chugunov has played on a gimpy right leg. The Mountaineers put together one good drive, an 11-play, 67-yard march that ended with a 28-yard Evan Staley field goal with 13:05 left in the first half. Chugunov closed the half hitting 7-of-17 passes for 73 yards, and four Mountaineers were credited with 13 yards on 11 rushes. WVU gained three first downs and converted 1-of-9 third downs in the half.
The score remained at 7-3 until Utah got significant help from West Virginia’s special teams, when Marcus Simms allowed a Mitch Wishnowsky punt to pop off his right shoulder pad and into the arms of Utah’s Cody Barton at the WVU 13-yard line. Utah needed only three plays to capitalize, scoring on a 2-yard Tyler Huntley run at the 5:46 mark of the second quarter.
Matt Gay completed the scoring with a 29-yard field goal with 1:08 left before the break.
Huntley finished the half hitting 8-of-17 passes for 117 yards while rushing 12 times for 18 yards and a score. Moss carried eight times for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Utah will receive to open the second half.