Backup quarterback Bryson Barnes threw for 175 yards and a touchdown and No. 14 Utah beat Washington State 21-17 on Thursday night to stay in the hunt for the Pac-12 championship game.
Barnes, who started in place of injured Cam Rising, completed 17 of 27 passes for Utah (6-2, 4-1), which was off last week after edging Southern California in a 43-42 shootout Oct. 15.
Cameron Ward completed 27 of 31 passes for 222 yards for Washington State (4-4, 1-4), which has lost four of its past five games and was also off a week ago. The Cougars were without rushing leader Nakia Watson and top receiver Renard Bell because of injuries.
After a scoreless first quarter, Washington State scored on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Ward to De’Zhaun Stribling early in the second quarter. Ward completed his first 12 passes.
Utah replied with a 65-yard drive that ended when Ja’Quinden Jackson plowed over from the 6.
Utah was forced to punt late in the second quarter, but the ball hit receiver Robert Ferrel in the leg and was recovered by the Utes at the Washington State 25. Jaylon Glover drove in from the 1e with 20 seconds left in the half to give Utah a 14-7 lead.
Dalton Kincaid caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Barnes late in the third quarter to lift Utah to a 21-7 lead.
Washington State replied immediately, with Ward running 7 yards up the middle early in the fourth to cut Utah’s lead to 21-14.
Jackson fumbled midway through the fourth and the ball was recovered by Washington State’s Tanner Moku deep in Utah territory. Dean Janikowski kicked a 42-yard field goal to cut Utah’s lead to 21-17 with less than five minutes left in the game. But Utah was able to run out the clock.
Utah is the defending Pac-12 champion and needed a victory to stay in range of Oregon, UCLA and Southern California for a berth in the league title game. Washington State is seeking to qualify for a bowl game.
Utah: Hosts Arizona on Nov. 5.
Washington State: At Stanford on Nov. 5.