Utah State running back Calvin Tyler Jr., right, carries the ball while pressured by Washington State defensive back Tanner Moku, obscured, during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Logan Bonner threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Deven Thompkins with 11 seconds left to lift Utah State to a 26-23 victory over Washington State on Saturday night.
Utah State (1-0) got the ball back on its own 22 with 3:02 left and Bonner drove them to the winning score in Blake Anderson’s first game as the Aggies’ coach. Bonner completed a pass to Derek Wright for a two-point conversion and the final score.
Max Borghi ran for 86 yards and a touchdown for Washington State (0-1) of the Pac-12, which finished 1-3 last year.
“Food is going to taste better. Beds are gonna be softer,” Anderson said after becoming the first Utah State coach in more than 40 years to win his opening game. “This is a memory I’ll never forget.”
“I’m not surprised at all,” Anderson said of the upset win.
“We did not play our best football,” he said. “All in all we made the plays we absolutely had to make.”
Anderson said the outcome did not settle the battle over who should be the team’s starting quarterback.
“Both did some really, really good things. Both did some dumb things,” he said of Bonner and Andrew Peasley “We’re not going to jump to conclusions.”
But with the game on the line, he turned to Bonner, who followed the coach to Utah State from Arkansas State.
“He has been in this situation a lot more than Peasley has,” Anderson said.
Washington State coach Nick Rolovich said his team settled for too many field goals and failed to convert on third downs.
“I think we could’ve put that thing away and that’s on me,” Rolovich said. “We are going to get going and be ready for next week”
“We lost, but everyone is keeping their heads up,” Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura said.
Peasley connected with Thompkins on a 45-yard pass to the WSU 1 in the first quarter. But the drive was stalled by three false start penalties and the Aggies had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Connor Coles and a 3-0 lead.
Dean Janikowski’s 35-yard field goal for Washington State tied the game early in the second quarter.
Utah State’s Patrick Joyner sacked Guarantano in the end zone for a safety and a 5-3 lead.
Janikowski’s 31-yard field goal attempt bounced off the left upright for WSU late in the second quarter.
Derrick Langford picked off a Bonner pass late in the first half and returned it 36 yards to the Utah State 28. But three straight passes by de Laura were incomplete from the Utah State 9 and the Cougars had to settle for Janikowski’s 26-yard field goal and a 6-5 lead at halftime.
Coles kicked a 39-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half to give Utah State an 8-6 lead.
Borghi scored the first touchdown of the game on a 64-yard run down the left sideline with 10:47 left in the third, giving the Cougars a 13-8 lead.
Coles replied with a 28-yard field goal for Utah State.
Donovan Ollie caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from de Laura with 4:01 left in the third for a 20-11 Washington State lead. Janikowski added a 27-yard field goal early in the fourth for the Cougars.
Calvin Tyler Jr. plowed over from the 2-yard line for Utah State’s first touchdown with 5:16 left in the game, cutting Washington State’s lead to 23-18. The Cougars went three-and-out and had to punt, setting up Utah State’s winning touchdown drive.
Both teams came in unsettled at the quarterback position, and each rotated two quarterbacks during the game.
Tennessee graduate transfer Jarrett Guarantano rotated with last year’s starter Jayden de Laura for WSU.
Anderson also had a quarterback battle and rotated Bonner, who followed the coach from Arkansas State, and Peasley.
The last time Utah State defeated a Pac-12 team was in 2012 at home against Utah. Utah State’s last road win over a power conference team was against Kansas State in 1971.
Utah State finished strong, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter to beat a Pac-12 team on the road. Washington State sputtered on offense and couldn’t stop the Aggies with the game on the line. Both teams need to settle on a starting quarterback.
TIME OF POSSESSION
Each team finished with exactly 30 minutes of possession in the game.
Utah State generated 439 yards of total offense, to 355 for Washington State.
Max Borghi’S 64-yard touchdown run was the longest run of his career, and he upped his career rushing TD total to 21, 5th-most in WSU history.
Utah State hosts North Dakota next Saturday
Washington State hosts Portland State next Saturday.