Utah State falls to Weber State for first time in 44 years, 35-7 – Cache Valley Daily

LOGAN – For only the second time in history, and first time in 44 years, Weber State claimed victory over Utah State on the gridiron, downing the Aggies 35-7 in front of a crowd of 17,781 at Merlin Olsen Field on Saturday.

We got out-coached. We got outplayed. It’s that simple,” USU head coach Blake Anderson said. “They came with a great game plan, executed it. Had us off-balance all night, both sides of the ball. We dropped balls. We had penalties. We made mistakes. We played really right into their plan.”

Utah State’s offense once again no-showed in every way, one week after being shut out by Alabama. Before pulling starters late in the fourth, they gained a mere 206 yards on offense – which would have been the 16th worst output by an FBS team vs a non-FBS opponent this century – were 0-for-10 on third down conversions (they got their first third-down conversion on the last drive of the game), and averaged 3.4 yards per play. The Aggies also committed 10 penalties for a loss of 98 yards.

The end result was a second straight game without a score on offense.

Anderson noted two major areas that impacted the team tonight, specifically (with many more plaguing the team the last three games): not being able to run the ball effectively against a light box, and not being able to win against man-to-man coverage.

“Tonight, (running the ball) was something we desperately needed to be able do and couldn’t,” Anderson said.

Terrell Vaughn provided the lone touchdown, also the lone bright spot of the game. After Weber State kicked a field goal to draw first blood 3-0, Vaughn returned the ensuing kickoff from a couple yards deep for what was officially a 100-yard kick return touchdown.

Vaughn’s’ TD gave Utah State its only lead of the night, 7-3, but Weber State responded almost as quickly. Bronson Barron connected with Ty MacPherson on a 62-yard pass which set up a 17-yard rushing touchdown by Josh Davis on the very next play. A two-play, 79-yard, 44-second drive.

The Wildcats went up 13-7 at the end of its next drive, but things settled down as Utah State’s defense began holding down Weber State. And on USU’s final drive, it looked like they might be able to steal a 14-13 halftime lead, or at least get within 13-10. The Aggies drove all the way to WSU’s three-yard line on a 44-yard drive – the longest of the half and third-longest of the game. Unfortunately, Bonner’s pass to Kyle Van Leeuwen in the flat was intercepted, ending any chance for a score before the break.

“You don’t feel great, but you feel like ‘alright, we played bad, we survived a storm, let’s go out and have a great second half.’ I think emotionally halftime was tough getting down there, getting close, having a chance to go ahead and not making it happen.”

In the third, Weber State finally made its break, starting with a long drive. Starting at their own 14, the Wildcats went on an 18-play, 86-yard drive capped by a nine-yard touchdown pass from Barron to MacPherson. One fake field goal for a two-point conversion later and WSU led 21-7. When USU’s offense went out to respond, Bonner threw a pick-six. 28-7.

Utah State’s next two drives – effectively its last chances to flip the disastrous script – resulted in a pair of turnovers on downs. Weber State then added the exclamation point with MacPherson scoring his second TD of the game.

At the end of the day, Utah State lost to an FCS team, the program’s first loss to a non-FBS opponent since a 27-24 loss to Idaho State in 2000. The Aggies have been shut out on offense two straight weeks and been outgained 960 to 419. They’re 1-2 heading into an early bye week. Anderson may have given the best analysis of where Utah State is at the moment.

Right now we’re not a very good football team.”

From the Notebook

Anderson goes to bat for his QB

Late in the third quarter, after having thrown a pick-six that led to Weber State going up 28-7, Bonner trotted back out onto the field. He was met with boos from the crowd. Not long after, a faint “We want Cooper” chant could be heard, calling on backup quarterback Cooper Legas to be subbed into the game (Cooper would make an appearance to rousing cheers with 6:35 left and the game long decided).

Anderson didn’t take kindly to the boos heard and he stood up for Bonner, noting what he’s done in the past. Here is his full, 72-second response transcribed.

“I don’t know if people are going to want to hear this. That’s the same quarterback that won a Mountain West conference championship last year – the first one ever at this university. That’s coming off a knee injury in less than nine months. And he’s not the only person making mistakes. So it’s real easy to sit in the stands and boo.

“And I want nothing better than for Cooper Legas to have a great career when his time has come. But he had an opportunity to win that job in the offseason and he did not. And he’s a great number two and he’s going to be a really good number one. But right now Logan Bonner is the starting quarterback and he deserves that opportunity and he also deserves respect.

“And I don’t know how to say it any nicer, a lot of our fan base showed true colors today and it was embarrassing. They can be mad at me and, hey, we didn’t get it done, we didn’t win. but there’s plenty of blame on that sideline to go around, not just one guy. And he did help us win a conference title last year and it ain’t been that long ago. I wish people would remember that. Pull for him, not against him.

“Cooper’s going to get his opportunity and he’s going to be a great football player, and I love him to death. But I’m not going to be swayed by people in the crowd. We’re going to pull tighter together on the sideline as a matter of fact. Because apparently that’s what we’ve got.”

The last Weber State win over Utah State

Way back in the first half of the Jimmy Carter administration, Weber State came to Logan for a mid-November showdown with Utah State. By this point in the season, the 1978 Aggies were guaranteed at least a share of the PCAA title. The Wildcats meanwhile were a below-average 3-6 so far that year. The expectations were so low for Weber State that the head referee visited the Wildcats locker room and asked if, should the game get out of hand, they might like to shorten the second-half quarters.

But, after being down 10-7 at halftime, Weber State scored 28 points in the seven-minute span in the third, 31 points overall in the quarter. The Wildcats finished the day with a dominant 44-25 win.

“We’ve got to find who we are”

Anderson phrased it multiple ways, multiple times, but he is right in saying, “we’ve got to find who we are” as the Aggies look lost as a team. With a bye week upcoming, there’s a lot of looking inward that will need to take place.

“We’re searching for ourselves. We’re searching for consistency. We’re searching for leadership,” Anderson said. “We have not played a good football game yet and it shows. We’re fortunate to have one win under our belt because we easily could have lost week one. We’re just struggling to find our team. Hopefully that’s something we can do over the course of next week.”

Anderson invited a lot of blame on himself, but safety Hunter Reynolds – a sixth-year player and leader for the defense – also invited blame on himself and his fellow leaders on the team.

“As players we’ve got to take ownership of how we’ve been so far,” Reynolds said. “Myself, I’ve done a poor job I feel like, someone who’s a sixth-year senior. Someone who needs to be that guy for the team. A lot of the time I haven’t done a good enough job. We need those leaders to step up, I need to do a better job.”

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