The Wildcat offense didn't help matters after the initial Ute score. Arizona went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and Utah answered with a 58-yard drive that culminated in a three-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Steve Savoy to build a 10-0 lead.
The UA responded with an impressive 10-play drive that resulted in a 33-yard Nick Folk field goal, the program's first three-pointer since September 27.
Utah had a response of its own. Marty Johnson bolted for consecutive 20-yard runs, including a touchdown up the middle to build a 14-point lead with 1:17 left in the opening quarter.
Arizona had a golden opportunity to cut into the lead before the half. The UA drove to the Utah one, but failed on four straight efforts to punch the ball in, and Utah went into the locker room with the 11-point advantage.
"We played well, we got a couple decent shots," Mike Stoops told Todd Walsh of FoxSports at the half. "The offense did a good job moving consistently, but we made a couple key mistakes, and we can't do that."
Mistakes were the story. Arizona's third turnover proved a critical blow. Heavner threw his first interception of the season on a tipped ball at the UA 11, and the Smith to Savoy combination connected for its second touchdown of the night three plays later. Utah led 23-6 after missing the extra point.
Arizona shot itself in the foot on the next possession. Bell coughed up his second fumble of the night after the UA drove to the Utah 10. It marked Arizona's fourth turnover.
With 10 minutes remaining, the Wildcats missed another opportunity. They drove as deep as the Utah 20, but the drive stalled and Folk's field goal attempt went awry.