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San Diego holds off Utah in triple OT

Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid and San Diego State safety Cedarious Barfield try to catch a pass intended for
Kincaid in the end zone during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Sept. 18, 2021 (September 19 in
Manila) in Carson, California. AP PHOTO

CARSON, California: Quarterback Lucas Johnson caught a 2-point conversion pass from Jesse Matthews in triple overtime, and San Diego State blew a 14-point lead in the final minutes of regulation before hanging on for a wild 33-31 victory over Utah on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

After Johnson scored on a Philly Special, the Aztecs (3-0) celebrated wildly after officials reversed their call of a 2-point conversion catch by Utah’s Connor O’Toole, ruling the ball hit the turf.

Greg Bell rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns and Jordan Byrd returned a kickoff 100 yards for a TD, but the Aztecs nearly gave away their second straight win over a Pac-12 opponent.

Back-up quarterback Cameron Rising led the Utes’ improbable comeback, passing for 153 yards and three touchdowns while engineering three strong drives after replacing ineffective Charlie Brewer late in the third quarter.

Britain Covey caught a short TD pass from Rising with 4:17 left, but Jadon Redding missed Utah’s extra point. Rising got the ball back with 2:36 left and led a 74-yard drive, hitting Theo Howard with a 4-yard TD pass and finding Solomon Enis for the 2-point conversion with 16 seconds left.

Johnson hit Jay Rudolph with a 2-yard TD pass on San Diego State’s possession in the first overtime, but Rising found Jaylen Dixon for a 25-yard TD on Utah’s first OT snap.

Redding missed a 37-yard field goal attempt in the second OT, but Matt Araiza then missed a 36-yard attempt for the Aztecs, sending the game to 2-point conversions.

Bell produced his third consecutive 100-yard game this season and the Nebraska transfer seventh in 10 games since joining the Aztecs, who followed up their blowout of rebuilding Arizona with this nail-biting victory over the Utes. San Diego State improved to 7-2 against the Pac-12 in the past six seasons.

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