SALT LAKE CITY -- The No. 11 University of Utah Utes played a nail-biter against the Oregon Ducks Saturday, and a slow first half gave no indication of the explosive fourth-quarter frenzy that would ultimately end with a 30-28 upset-loss for Utah.
The defeat ends Utah's chances at taking the Pac-12 South this year.
Utah held the lead for much of the game, getting out to a 7-0 start in the first quarter on a 24-yard run from Cory Butler-Byrd on their opening drive.
Oregon managed a field goal later in the first, but those 3 points would be the only ones scored in the remainder of the first half, making it 7-3 as the teams went into the locker rooms.
Utah expanded their lead to 14-3 in the third quarter, this time courtesy of Joe Williams for 12 yards and a TD to cap-off a 5-play drive.
Oregon got back into striking distance later in the third quarter after a Utah three-and-out. After the resulting punt, Justin Herbert completed a pass to Jalen Brown for 29 yards and a touchdown to make it 14-10.
Another Utah three-and-out on the next drive gave the Ducks another shot, which they turned into an 11-play, 96-yard drive and their first lead of the game at 17-14.
Things looked grim for the Utes as they were prepared to go three-and-out yet again on their next drive, but the briefest brush with the ball on the part of an Oregon return man gave Utah a touchdown instead.
Dillon Mitchell signaled for a fair catch after the Utes' 53-yard punt, but the ball touched his fingers before ending up the end zone, where Utah ultimately recovered the ball. The touchdown gave Utah a 21-17 lead.
VP of Officiating David Coleman explained the ruling in a video posted to Twitter by the Pac-12 Network.
Oregon wasn't out of the fight yet, however, as their next drive covered 75 yards on eight plays that included a 25-yard run and a 31 yard pass and ended on a short rush from Justin Herbert for the TD and the 24-21 lead.
But Utah came roaring back with a drive of their own, breaking out of the three-and-out rut and chewing up 75 yards. Troy Williams hit Evan Moeai in the end zone for 30 yards to put Utah back on top 28-24 with just 2:18 left to play.
The Ducks rallied for a drive of their own, making it into the red zone in the waning moments. With just 2 seconds left to play, a pass to the end zone was ruled incomplete. However, the play was reviewed and it appeared to be an incredibly thin margin between a touchdown and an out-of-bounds catch.
The officiating crew reversed the call, giving Oregon the lead again at 30-28. Utah's kick return efforts fell short despite several desperate laterals, cementing the win for Oregon.
Utah falls to 8-3 overall and 5-3 in conference. They play next on November 26 when they travel to Boulder to face No. 12 Colorado.