6:30 PM ET, September 27, 2003
Hughes Stadium (CO), Fort Collins, CO
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) -- Limited to 111 yards in the second half and 284 overall, Utah got a huge contribution from its defense, which scored two touchdowns.
Cornerback Arnold Parker scored the biggest one, returning a fumble 80 yards for a touchdown with 1:33 left as Utah stunned Colorado State 28-21 on Saturday night.
Moments later, linebacker Corey Dodds intercepted a Colorado State pass and the Utes (3-1, 1-0 Mountain West) ended a five-game losing streak to the Rams (2-3, 0-1).
Colorado State quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt, benched in the second quarter after four straight series that ended on turnovers, returned to the game and rallied the Rams to two fourth-quarter touchdowns and a 21-21 tie.
Trailing 21-7, Colorado State went 80 yards on a drive capped by Van Pelt's 8-yard run on a quarterback draw.
After a short Utah punt, Van Pelt led the Rams 42 yards for another score, with Marcus Houston running the final 3 yards with 10:27 left.
Van Pelt's 28-yard pass to Chris Pittman triggered another scoring threat in the closing minutes, and the Rams appeared content to kick a field goal after reaching the Utah 22-yard line. But Houston fumbled when hit by safety Dave Revill, and Parker grabbed it and raced down the right sideline for the clinching score.
"I was lucky to be the guy taking it back," Parker said. "The ball came right to me, but Dave Revill did all the work."
Revill said he "put a helmet on the ball. I followed him to the corner and went to tackle him and it came out. I was worried (Parker) wouldn't get in."
Ute coach Urban Meyer said the fact that Revill forced the key turnover "should come as no surprise. He's an all-conference defender. Revill made the play and got the ball to Arnold, the fastest guy on our team."
"It was a critical error on my part," Houston said of the fumble. "We can't expect to win games when we turn the ball over like that."
It was one of six turnovers for the usually sure-handed Rams.
"I was surprised by all the Colorado State turnovers," Meyer said. "That is very unusual for a Sonny Lubick team. They usually get the turnovers."
Lubick, the Rams' coach, agreed.
"Six turnovers -- you're not going to beat anybody when we do that," he said. "We've been so darn good at that the last few years."
Utah converted two of Colorado State's four first-half turnovers into two scores and a 14-7 halftime lead, including Dodds' recovery in the end zone of a fumbled pitchout from Van Pelt to Houston. Brandon Warfield, the nation's No. 3 rusher who finished with 78 yards, scored on a 10-yard run after a Van Pelt fumble.
Quarterback Alex Smith's 1-yard sneak, which capped a 57-yard drive, put Utah ahead 21-7 late in the third quarter.
The teams exchanged a flurry of turnovers in the first quarter. Colorado State drove to the Utah 26, where the Utes' Reza Williams tipped a pass and teammate Lewis Powell intercepted.
Smith fumbled the ball away on the next play, but CSU then gave it back on Houston's fumble at the Utah 21.
Smith completed a 33-yard pass to Paris Warren on third-and-19 as Utah drove to the CSU 1-yard line, where Warfield was stopped on third and fourth down.
Two plays later, however, Houston couldn't handle Van Pelt's pitchout at the goal line and Dodds recovered in the end zone for a touchdown early in the second quarter.
Seven plays later, Van Pelt tossed an errant pitchout, and Powell recovered. The Utes promptly drove 52 yards, with Warfield running 10 yards off the right side for the TD.
On the Holland-led scoring drive, the Rams converted all four of their third-down plays.
Van Pelt reentered the game late in the third quarter after two ineffective series by Holland.