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April 17, 2014

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MAACO Bowl Las Vegas:

Utah’s bowl-game winning streak halted at nine victories

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Justin M. Bowen

George Lloka of Boise State wraps up Fatu Moala of Utah during the game Wednesday, December 22, 2010 in the Maaco Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Boise State came out with a 26-3 win.

Maaco Bowl Las Vegas

Boise State fans celebrate after their team beat Utah 26-3 to win the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

MAACO Bowl

MAACO Bowl

With his eyes welling up with tears and the tone of his voice starting to crack, Utah senior offensive lineman Zane Taylor summed up the feelings of several in the Utes’ football program following their 26-3 loss to Boise State on Wednesday in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.

The setback snapped a nine-game bowl winning streak for Utah, the second longest bowl winning streak ever.

“It’s not the way you want to end your career,” Taylor said at the post-game press conference. “It hurts, and it hurts bad.”

There wasn’t much Taylor or his teammates could do to stop Boise State.

Utah was limited to 200 yards and eight first downs, only gaining 142 yards in the final three quarters after keeping the score close in the first quarter. Utah forced two first-quarter turnovers and led 3-0 after the initial 15 minutes.

They just couldn’t sustain the effort — not against a Boise State team that finished 12-1 overall and was a botched field goal away from playing in a Bowl Championship Series game.

Boise State gained 59 yards in the first quarter then exploded offensively the rest of the game to finish with 523 yards.

“In order to win a football game like this, we had to be opportunistic. We had to make plays,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We weren’t able to do that.”

Boise State running back Doug Martin broke the game open midway through the second quarter with an 84-yard touchdown run, using his tremendous breakaway speed to easily outrace Utah’s secondary defenders. It was the longest scoring play in the bowl game's 19-year history.

The play opened the gates for Boise State. The Broncos closed the game with 23 unanswered points, including a pair of touchdowns and 319 yards passing from game Most Valuable Player Kellen Moore. Earlier this month, Moore finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting.

“When you play a team the caliber of Boise State, you have to be much better than we were tonight,” Whittingham said.

While Boise State’s offense was clicking on all cylinders, Utah’s was stuck in neutral. The defense, especially the defensive line, of Boise State was simply too tough.

“The defense, in my estimation, is definitely the backbone of that football team,” Whittingham said.

Whittingham won’t have much time to dwell on the loss. This was Utah’s final game as a member of the Mountain West Conference, and Whittingham will have his hands full getting his program ready to transition to the Pacific-12 Conference next fall.

He’ll be recruiting a different type of athlete and working to upgrade the school’s facilities.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us obviously with transition to the Pac-12,” Whittingham said. “The bar is raised in all areas. That is are first and foremost challenge.”

With that comes the possibility of starting another streak.

“Nothing goes on forever. Nothing lasts forever,” Whittingham said. “Our players, our program are very proud (of the streak).”

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  1. Bye Bye Utah!!! Welcome to the MWC Boise...