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September 10, 2006

Utes saw down Lumberjacks

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- After a poor performance in Utah's season-opening loss, quarterback Brett Ratliff opened the second game against Northern Arizona by misfiring on four of five passes.

But he found his rhythm with two long pass plays in the second quarter, and the Utes were off to a 45-7 victory.

"We struggled last week and came into this game slow, but I never doubted," Ratliff said after throwing three touchdowns in the second half Saturday.

"We made a couple of plays and started rolling and we got more emotional. There was more passion," he said.

Indeed, after a 22-yard pass to Bradon Godfrey and a 34-yarder to Freddie Brown, Ratliff looked like the quarterback who led Utah to victories last season over Brigham Young and Georgia Tech.

He completed 17 of 27 passes for 299 yards and no interceptions. Utah (1-1) gained 512 yards on offense and scored on seven consecutive possessions.

Godfrey caught four passes for 80 yards, including an acrobatic third-quarter touchdown that forced him to leave the game with a sprained ankle.

Derreck Richards had four catches for 79 yards and a score, while Marquis Wilson had four receptions for 72 yards and another touchdown.

"They are out of my doghouse now," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said of his receivers, who were forced to eat their pregame meal after other players and staff.

A 25-yard pass to Kenny Mahone from Jason Murrietta in the first quarter gave the Lumberjacks (0-2) their only lead of the game.

"We tried and tried to stick together, but we couldn't hold them back any longer," Mahone said.

The Utes posted only 39 yards of offense in the first quarter, then scored on their three possessions in the second quarter.

Throughout the first quarter, Whittingham urged Ratliff and the Utes to settle down. The quarterback got the message and completed passes to all areas of the field.

"Rat played great. He led us and we played the way we're capable of playing," Whittingham said.

With the game tied, Northern Arizona recovered a fumble by Utah's Darryl Poston at its 7-yard-line. But the call was overturned, the Utes kept the ball and Mike Liti rushed for a 1-yard touchdown to put his team ahead 14-7.

Northern Arizona's Alex Watson, who caught 11 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona State, had three short receptions on the same series in the first quarter but did not catch another pass.

Utah's defense made it easy for the offense to light up the scoreboard.

"Coach challenged us all week. So we down linemen got after it and we are playing with passion now," said defensive tackle Kelly Talavou, who had two sacks.

Utah's Shaun Harper broke his arm on an interception that set up the final touchdown.


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