For the first 24 minutes or so of the first half, and with its offense flailing, it looked as if Oregon was headed toward a second defeat in four tries this season. While that still may be the case, “The Switch” hasn’t certainly breathed some life into the Ducks.
Sensing the need to shake things up, Mark Helfrich swapped out starting quarterback Vernon Adams, playing with a broken index finger on his throwing hand, in favor of Jeff Lockie. Trailing Utah 20-6 in Eugene, Lockie keyed a seven-play, 68-yard touchdown drive that cut the lead to seven at 20-13. Lockie went 4-5 passing for 50 yards and a touchdown pass on the drive, adding one carry for 20 yards for good measure.
That spark, though, was, at least temporarily, snuffed out on the Utes’ ensuing drive, and in emphatic fashion.
On a third-and-one from their own 34-yard line, Utah quarterback Travis Wilson raced 60 yards — and by raced I mean lumbered, seemingly in slow motion — down to the Oregon six-yard line. A penalty set the Utes back five yards, but Wilson eventually hit Caleb Repp from nine yards out to push the lead back out to 27-13, where it remained heading into halftime.
Prior to Lockie’s insertion into the lineup, the Utes’ were absolutely suffocating the Ducks’ powerful offense. With Adams in charge, UO ran 16 plays and managed just 44 yards in five possessions, punting the ball an unimaginable three times. Lockie’s first drive netted 24 more yards on nine fewer plays, although his second drive, late in the half, netted a three-and-out and a punt as the Utes’ defense once again stiffened.
Wilson, who had been considered a game-time decision because of an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder, accounted for all three of the Utes’ touchdowns, with all three coming on scoring passes.