TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Andy Phillips felt a slight breeze blowing from right to left, so he aimed a little right on his first attempt.
The wind barely touched the kick, which sailed wide right, so he decided not to aim so far outside the upright after getting a second chance.
The wind did catch that one, sending it wide left while blowing away No. 18 Utah’s College Football Playoff chances.
One of the nation’s best kickers, Phillips missed a 35-yard field goal in overtime and Zane Gonzalez followed by making one from 36 yards, sending Utah to a 19-16 loss to No. 15 Arizona State on Saturday night.
“Coach called the timeout and I thought the wind didn’t push it too much, so I was going to play the next one a little bit more left and the wind caught a hold of it,” Phillips said. “I should have gone with my instinct. It was a bad judgment on my part.”
Utah (6-2, 3-1, No. 17 CFP) had the ball first in overtime and was forced to call a timeout just before Phillips attempted a 35-yard field goal to avoid a delay-of-game penalty. Phillips, who had made 87 percent of his kicks this season, missed both his attempts after making his first three on the night.
Arizona State (7-1, 5-1, No. 14 CFP) didn’t do much on its overtime drive either, but Gonzalez made his try count, driving the ball through the uprights to send the Sun Devils charging onto the field.
The victory, combined with Arizona’s loss to UCLA, gave Arizona State a one-game lead in the Pac-12 South and kept the Sun Devils’ College Football Playoff hopes alive.
Next up is another big test: No. 6 Notre Dame, right back at Sun Devil Stadium next Saturday.
“We’re in the driver’s seat and that’s where we want to be,” said Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly, who threw for 205 yards and a touchdown with an interception.
Utah had its chances to take the wheel.
The Utes kept Arizona State from running away with in the field half by forcing field goals and rallied in the second half by hounding Kelly.
After a quiet first half, Devontae Booker ran for 146 yards and a touchdown in another strong game by the junior.
There just weren’t enough big plays for the Utes.
Travis Wilson had a pedestrian passing day, throwing for 57 yards and a touchdown while completing 12 of 22 passes. Phillips one of the most reliable kickers in the country, couldn’t come through with the game on the line, missing just his third field goal in 20 attempts this season.
The loss all but knocks the Utes out of the playoff picture.
“This is really tough — it hurts this whole team,” Wilson said. “This whole team played hard all the way until the end.”
The Sun Devils settled for a pair of field goals by Gonzalez in the first quarter despite outgaining Utah 149-21. Arizona State finally got into the end zone in the second quarter, when Jaelen Strong followed a 32-yard catch-and-run with a 6-yard touchdown catch. Right after that, the Sun Devils stalled on another drive and Gonzalez missed from 50 yards.
Arizona State finally generated a bit of offense in the fourth quarter — namely a 31-yard pass from Kelly to Gary Chambers — yet again failed to find the end zone. Gonzalez’s third field goal of the night, from 30 yards, tied at 16.
“We just hurting ourselves with penalties, misread, sacks,” Kelly said. “Utah’s a great defense and you can’t do that to yourself.”
A week after losing leading receiver Dres Anderson to a season-ending knee injury, Utah struggled to move the ball most of the first half, relegated to short throws underneath or generate much in the run game. The Utes had 97 total yards and six points — on a pair of field goals by Phillips — in the first half.
Utilizing Wilson more in the run game with the read option, the Utes started to find a bit of a rhythm offensively in the second half.
Utah marched quickly down the field its opening drive, scoring on a 4-yard pass from Wilson to Booker. Phillips followed with a 44-yard field goal that put the Utes up 16-13 after three quarters.
The Utes stumbled after that, though, unable to even get into field-goal range, much less score another touchdown in regulation, leaving it up to the foot of Phillips.
“I felt like our team fought pretty hard and usually those situations are something I thrive in,” Phillips said. “No one is harder on themselves than I am for not putting the ball through the uprights.”
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