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Sione Vaki carries No. 16 Utah to 34-14 win over Cal

Sione Vaki rushed for 158 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns while also totaling four tackles on defense to help No. 16 Utah to a 34-14 win against visiting Cal in a Pac-12 game on Saturday afternoon.

Vaki, a safety who had one carry on the season coming into the game, sealed the win with a 72-yard touchdown with 6:51 remaining.

Ja’Quinden Jackson added 94 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown for Utah (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12), which finished with 317 rushing yards as a team.

Utah quarterback Bryson Barnes completed 15 of 21 passes for 128 yards and rushed for another 50 yards and a touchdown.

Fernando Mendoza completed 10 of 17 passes for 149 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Cal (3-4, 1-3).

Cal scored on its second drive when Mendoza connected with Jaydn Ott for a 48-yard touchdown with 5:41 left in the first quarter.

An interception by Lander Barton led to a 3-yard touchdown run by Jackson that tied the score 7-7 with 7:56 left in the first half.

Utah quickly got the ball back and marched 89 yards in 15 plays, taking a 14-7 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Vaki, who was pushed across the goal line by a couple teammates with 26 seconds left in the opening half.

The Utes received the second-half kickoff and Cole Becker booted a 23-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17-7.

Utah then sacked Mendoza on the next play from scrimmage, forced a fumble and recovered at the Cal 13-yard line. Three plays later, Barnes scored on a 4-yard run for a 24-7 lead with 9:11 left in the third quarter.

Cal answered back with a six-play, 65-yard drive capped by Mendoza’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Taj Davis, cutting the deficit to 24-14 with 4:21 left in the third.

Cal kicker Mateen Bhaghani missed a 30-yard field goal with 7:49 left that would have cut the lead to seven.

On the same drive, Utah’s best defender, safety Cole Bishop, was ejected for targeting, which will force him to miss the first half of next week’s game against No. 10 USC.

After Vaki’s long touchdown run, Becker tacked on a 38-yard field goal with 1:57 left to extend the lead to 34-14.

–Field Level Media

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