2:00 PM ET, December 31, 2011
Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX
EL PASO, Texas -- John White took his final hand-off of the day, followed his lead blocker and set off a celebration.
White plowed into the end zone from 8 yards out to give Utah a 30-27 overtime victory against Georgia Tech on Saturday in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
"They trusted me with the ball, so I saw Shawn Asiata blast somebody and I knew I was going to go in," White said. "As soon as the ball crossed the plain I looked up to the ref and saw his hands go up and knew it was a touchdown so I just wanted to go celebrate with my teammates."
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Justin Moore kicked a 34-yard field goal in Georgia Tech's overtime possession to take a three-point lead, but White finished a 115-yard rushing day with the game-winning score on his 26th carry.
"There's no quit in these guys," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "They kept believing, coaches kept believing, and we found a way to win in the end."
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson was disappointed with his team's play in the fourth quarter.
"We couldn't block in the fourth quarter and the plays we needed to make just didn't happen," Johnson said. "It feels like somebody kicked you in the gut. When you are competitive, it really hurts"
The Yellow Jackets (8-5) drove to the Utah 31 with 2 seconds left, but David Scully missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt as time expired to send the Sun Bowl to overtime for the first time in its 77-year history. Moore had earlier missed two 42-yard tries for Tech.
"I thought (Scully) hit the ball good and I actually thought it went in but I guess it was a few feet to the right," Johnson said. "We didn't make enough plays and we missed three field goals."
Georgia Tech lost its seventh straight bowl appearance and Utah improved to 7-1 in bowls under Whittingham.
Utah grabbed a 7-0 lead after Asiata capped the game-opening drive with a 1-yard run.
Lyons finished the first half with 129 yards on 12 carries.
"Defensively we were real soft against the running game in the first half," Whittingham said. "They had a nice scheme and showed us stuff we didn't practice. It took us a while to adjust to that and we gave (up) a bunch of rushing yards in the first half. However (we only gave up) only seven points, which is the bottom line."
Coleman Peterson banked in a 25-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in the first half to give the Utes a 10-7 lead.
A 27-yard punt by Utah set up Moore's 32-yard field goal to tie it in the third quarter.
Moments later, Quayshawn Nealy picked off a pass by Hays and returned it down the sideline 74 yards for a touchdown with 4:14 left in the third quarter.
"We should have put the game away in the fourth quarter," Johnson said. "We didn't let up. We ran most of the same plays in the fourth quarter that we ran in the rest of the game."
Hays hit Kendrick Moeai with a 3-yard touchdown pass with 6:50 left in the fourth quarter to make it 24-17.
Hays went 15 for 31 for 193 yards.
It was over when... John White IV rambled into the end zone in overtime, completing Utah's comeback.
Gameball goes to... QB Jon Hays, whose three TDs -- two in the fourth quarter -- rallied the Utes.
Stat of the game... 8-0, 1. Utah is 8-0 when White rushes for 100+ yards. This was the Pac-12's first bowl win.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||8-18||4-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||2-2|
|TD||09:54||Shawn Asiata 1 Yd Pass From Jon Hays. (Coleman Petersen Kick)||0||7|
|TD||11:39||Preston Lyons 36 Yd Run. (Justin Moore Kick)||7||7|
|FG||00:15||Coleman Petersen 25 Yd||7||10|
|FG||10:27||Justin Moore 32 Yd||10||10|
|TD||04:43||Stephen Hill 31 Yd Pass From Tevin Washington. (Justin Moore Kick)||17||10|
|TD||04:15||Quayshawn Nealy 74 Yd Interception Return. (Justin Moore Kick)||24||10|
|TD||06:50||Kendrick Moeai 3 Yd Pass From Jon Hays. (Coleman Petersen Kick)||24||17|
|TD||01:32||DeVonte Christopher 28 Yd Pass From Jon Hays. (Coleman Petersen Kick)||24||24|
|FG||Justin Moore 34 Yd||27||24|
|TD||John White IV 8 Yd Run.||27||30|