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Utah keeps bowl streak

Utes earn a 35-32 victory over Navy for their seventh straight postseason win but need an interception after onside kick to clinch it.

December 21, 2007|From the Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Utah takes this bowl business seriously.

Brian Johnson threw for one touchdown and ran for another, and Utah opened the bowl season with a wild 35-32 victory over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl on Thursday night.

It was Utah's seventh straight bowl victory dating to 1999.

The loss spoiled the head-coaching debut of Navy's Ken Niumatalolo, who was promoted from assistant head coach and offensive line coach after Paul Johnson left for Georgia Tech.

Running back Darrell Mack, who grew up in the San Diego area, scored the first and last touchdowns for Utah (9-4), which won for the eighth time in nine games.

The game came down to a crazy final minute.

Navy (8-5) pulled to 35-32 on Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada's 58-yard touchdown pass to Zerbin Singleton with 57 seconds left.

Singleton recovered the onside kick at the 42, but Kaheaku-Enhada was intercepted by safety Joe Dale on the second play of the drive to seal the victory. Dale had a team-high 12 tackles.

Navy's four-game winning streak ended.

Johnson expertly ran Utah's spread-option offense in leading the Utes back from a 17-7 deficit by completing nine of nine passes for 130 yards in the third quarter. After Jerome Brooks scored on a 23-yard end-around pitch to pull the Utes within three, they went ahead on Johnson's 40-yard pass to Derrek Richards with 1:12 left in the third.

Johnson scored on a 19-yard scramble early in the fourth quarter to give Utah a 28-17 lead.

Navy, which seemed to be wearing down against the larger Utes, got a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kaheaku-Enhada to Shun White, and a conversion run by Kaheaku-Enhada to pull to 28-25 with 8:48 left.

Mack's one-yard touchdown run with 1:27 left seemed to give Utah a safe lead before Kaheaku-Enhada's big pass play.

Johnson was 20 of 25 passing for 236 yards, with one interception. He ran 11 times for 69 yards.

After three turnovers in the first 7:20, the teams settled down.

Mack scored on a five-yard run midway through the first quarter for a 7-0 Utah lead.

Navy then got its offense moving to score 17 straight points.

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