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Utah closing in on ninth straight year of bowl eligibility

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Jon Hays threw for 199 yards and a pair of
touchdowns, and Utah's defense hounded Arizona quarterback Nick Foles into a pair of big mistakes en route to a 34-21 win over the
Wildcats on Saturday.

Utah (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) had another solid defensive game, hitting
Foles early and often to set up two interceptions.

Hays continued to build confidence after his solid start against
Oregon State last week, connecting on 12 of 21 passes. John White
added 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground, moving Utah
within a game of becoming bowl eligible for the ninth straight
season.

Needing to win its final four games to become bowl eligible,
Arizona (2-7, 1-6) fell flat.

The Wildcats had trouble protecting Foles and had some ugly
miscues on special teams in the first half, including two blocked
punts and a badly botched fake field goal.

Foles hit 25 of 43 passes for 326 yards and had a pair of
touchdown passes to David Douglas, but threw two interceptions,
including one in the end zone with the Wildcats on Utah's 2-yard
line in the fourth quarter. Douglas finished with 10 catches for a
career-high 156 yards.

The game figured to be a clash of strengths. Arizona has one of
the nation's best passing offenses behind Foles, the nation's
leader with over 32 completions per game.

Utah, despite its struggles in the Pac-12, has the nation's
22nd-ranked defense, allowing just over 325 yards per game, and is
second in the conference in defensive scoring.

The advantage went to the Utes.

Utah pressured Foles relentlessly, sacking him twice in the
first half while forcing him to make numerous throws on the run or
with someone in his face throughout the game.

The Utes forced an interception in the second quarter by getting
to Foles, who threw off-balance and Utah linebacker Matt Martinez
made a diving grab at Arizona's 30-yard line. White scored four
plays later on an 18-yard run off of the left tackle to put Utah up
17-0.

Utah had sustained success on special teams, too, breaking
through to block two punts in the first half.

Greg Bird got to Kyle Dugandzic's first punt of the game,
setting up a 32-yard field goal by Coleman Peterson. He missed from
42 yards after another partially-blocked punt in the second
quarter.

Utah's offense wasn't bad, either.

Arizona stacked the box to stop the run early in the game and
Utah made them pay for it, using play-action to spring DeVonte
Christopher for a 65-yard touchdown pass from Hays that put the
Utes up 10-0 on the second play of the second quarter.

Hays also opened the second half with a 44-yard touchdown pass
to Reggie Dunn after Arizona cornerback Lyle Brown slipped, putting
the Utes up 27-7.

Arizona's offense struggled before finally showing some life
late in the second quarter, moving 73 yards in seven plays to set
up Douglas' acrobatic 23-yard touchdown catch from Foles. Douglas
made the catch over his shoulder while diving and barely got his
foot in for the highlight-worthy score.

Foles hit Douglas again late in the third quarter, throwing on
the run for a 42-yard touchdown that cut Utah's lead to 27-14.

Foles again had the Wildcats driving midway through the fourth
quarter, but his lazy fade pass in the end zone from the 2-yard
line was picked off by Utah's Conroy Black, who returned it across
midfield. White followed with an 11-yard score to put the game out
of reach.

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