Joe Williams sets school record as No. 19 Utah beats UCLA 52-45

Posted at 6:03 PM, Oct 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-23 00:46:33-04

PASADENA, Calif. -- Utah's Joe Williams may have announced his retirement earlier this season, but Saturday the senior running back led the Utes to a win over UCLA and set a school record for rushing yards in the process.

Utah roared out to a commanding lead early in the first quarter, scoring a touchdown on the opening kick off return before forcing a fumble on UCLA's next drive and capitalizing on that turnover with another TD.

That early lead was short-lived, however, as UCLA ignited for three touchdowns in less than six minutes before the end of the first quarter to make it 21-14 Bruins.

Utah stopped the one-sided scoring in the second quarter, as Andy Phillips hit from 45-yards. On a later drive, Joe Williams took the ball 39-yards for a touchdown after the Utes' defense stopped UCLA on a fourth down conversion attempt.

The final moments of the second quarter featured a barrage of turnovers, as Utah scooped up a UCLA fumble with about 3 minutes left to play. Utah's next drive ended with a red zone interception, but UCLA threw a pick two plays later to set up a Utah field goal in the waning moments of the half to make it 27-21 Utah.

The Bruins roared back in the second half, scoring on a 6-play, 75-yard drive in under two minutes to take a 28-27 lead. But Utah managed a successful drive of their own in response. After Joe Williams smashed in a touchdown from near the goal line, Troy Williams connected with Demari Simpikins for 2 points and a 35-28 lead.

But again the Bruins surged back into the game, this time scoring on a two-play drive featuring one incomplete pass and a long pass from Mike Fafaul to Jordan Lasley for 75 yards and the TD.

Utah notched on another field goal, then intercepted UCLA on the following drive. On the very next play, Joe Williams rushed 64 yards for his third touchdown of the game and a 45-35 lead.

UCLA managed a field goal early in the fourth quarter, but Joe Williams added to his school record with a monster 55-yard run for his fourth TD of the game to keep Utah in the lead at 52-38.

UCLA moved into striking distance late in the fourth, scoring on another short, 2-play passing drive to make it 52-45 with a little under 5 minutes left to play. Utah chewed through time but ultimately had to punt, giving UCLA's offense a shot at tying the game with 40 seconds on the clock.

The Ute defense held UCLA in check, securing the 52-45 win.

Williams finished his record-game with a total of 332 yards and four touchdowns on 29 attempts. According to Utah Athletics, the performance is the first 300-yard rushing game in school history and the most rushing yards by any FBS player in a game so far this season.

Utah, 7-1 overall and 4-1 in conference, plays next on Saturday, October 29 when they host the No. 5 Washington Huskies at Rice-Eccles Stadium. That game begins at 1:30 p.m. MT and airs on FS1.