Quarterback Tyler Huntley ran for two touchdowns and Utah’s defense dominated West Virginia in a 30-14 victory in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl on Tuesday.
Utah’s Zack Moss rushed for 150 yards and scored on a 58-yard burst through the middle of the West Virginia defense that gave the Utes an early 7-0 lead on a chilly, grey day at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
Utah’s defense forced three turnovers and held West Virginia to 153 total yards. Julian Blackmon had two interceptions for the Utes.
Mountaineers sophomore quarterback Chris Chugunov threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Ka’Raun White late in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t ever get into a good rhythm against the Utah defense.
Chugunov completed 9 of 28 passes for 129 yards with a touchdown and the two interceptions.
The Mountaineers went 2 of 14 on third down.
The Utes (7-6) struggled in the second half of the regular season, losing six of their final eight games. They responded by winning their fifth straight bowl game and improved to 11-1 in bowls under coach Kyle Whittingham.
West Virginia got off to a 5-2 start, but faded down the stretch and lost starting quarterback Will Grier to injury in a loss to Texas in late November.
The Mountaineers (7-6) were without Grier and leading rusher Justin Crawford against the Utes. Crawford elected to sit out to prepare for the 2018 NFL Draft.
West Virginia threatened to get back in the game midway through the third quarter with a big play on special teams. Shane Commodore stripped Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky, giving the ball to West Virginia at the Utes’ 9-yard line. But the Mountaineers went nowhere and had to settle for a chip-shot field goal from Evan Staley to cut the Utah lead to 17-6.
Heading into the fourth quarter, West Virginia had managed just 85 yards of total offense.
Utah kicker Matt Gay, the Lou Groza award winner as the nation’s top kicker, hit three field goals for the Utes.