LOGAN — With 14:55 left on the second quarter clock, Utah State held a 10-0 lead over Boise State. The Aggies had held the Broncos to 44 total yards, just two first downs and given up zero third down conversions.
A short 25 seconds of game time later and the Aggies trailed the Broncos, 14-10, the first in a series of 45 unanswered points by Boise State, leading to a 45-10 loss for Utah State to its conference rivals from the north.
Utah State head coach Blake Anderson summed up the night pretty well for his team.
“Loved the way we came out, defensively and got some stops. Loved the fact that we were able to get in the end zone and go up,” Anderson said. “But beyond that, not much happened that was very positive.”
Utah State’s lead came from a pair of great offensive possessions that broke an early stalemate where neither team was able to gain many yards or even first downs. On the first play of USU’s third drive, Cooper Legas threw a deep pass to Jalen Royals who reeled in the long pass, broke a tackle and ran it into the end zone for a 57-yard touchdown.
After going up 7-0, the Aggies continued their great defense from earlier in the game, forcing a fourth straight punt from the Broncos. Then USU drove back into the red zone, and though stopped short, did kick a field goal on the first play of the second quarter to take its biggest lead of the game.
On the first play of Boise State’s fifth drive, running back George Holani broke off a 75-yard rushing touchdown, the first in a long run of scoring for the Broncos, that brought the game immediately back to a one-possession game.
Utah State, with the chance to keep up its recent offensive momentum and answer the Boise State touchdown, instead lost the ball on a fumble. That handed the ball to the Broncos 26 yards from goal and they only took one play to reach the end zone and go up 14-10.
“We turned the ball over too much,” Anderson said. “We haven’t put the ball on the ground much this year. We’ve thrown some picks, but had not put the ball on the ground a lot. To have two on the ground today, you can’t have that.”
The Aggies nearly turned the tide back in their favor with a 73-yard drive all the way to the BSU two-yard line. But USU were held on a 4th & Goal, the Aggies opting for a trick play where Terrell Vaughn threw a pass on a reverse, but his pass was intercepted.
What went unnoticed for a minute about the end of that drive, though, was that Legas hurt his shoulder on the third-to-last play, a run for zero yards deep in the red zone. He threw a pass after that run and was on the field for Vaughn’s interception, but didn’t return to the field the rest of the game. McCae Hillstead stepped in on the next drive and played the remaining snaps at QB.
“(Legas) could not come back.,” Anderson said. “Hopefully he can recover quickly. I don’t know to what degree (he is injured) but could not have gone back and thrown the ball effectively.
Boise State kept up its scoring barrage, driving 79 yards for a touchdown after getting the interception and then forcing another fumble from USU and scoring a fourth straight touchdown off that turnover. And right before halftime, BSU added a field goal to make it 31 points in a single quarter allowed by the Aggies and giving the Broncos a 31-10 halftime lead.
The disaster of a second quarter featured 207 rushing yards from the Broncos, more than the Aggies have given up seven of their games this season. Utah State also turned the ball over three times, twice on fumbles and another interception. Both fumbles were inside USU’s own 30-yard line, giving the Broncos prime scoring position which they took full advantage of.
That sudden burst of scoring, and the loss of Legas, essentially took the wind out of the sails for the Aggies. They didn’t seriously threaten to score again and wound up getting shut out after those early points. The offense took an even further hit when Hillstead hurt his ankle for the second time in three weeks. Boise State slowed down considerably too, but still managed a pair of TDs in the second half, one in the third and another in the fourth.
Extra Notes and Quotes
Nine sacks on Aggie quarterbacks
Utah State’s normally prolific passing offense had a hard time getting going, not only with Legas AND Hillstead going down with injury at different points in the game, but the nine total sacks the Aggie quarterbacks collectively took.
Anderson said their staff felt like they potentially had an advantage in their wide receivers against the Broncos defensive backfield but just couldn’t take full advantage of that.
“I think we’re gonna go back and watch the tape and find out we had some guys running clean,” Anderson said, “but we couldn’t protect well enough to really get the ball downfield where we wanted to.”
Bowl eligibility will need to wait
Utah State had the chance to become bowl eligible, a primary goal for the team at this point. The Aggies will get one more chance to be bowl eligible for the 11th time in 13 years when it travels to take on New Mexico next Friday.
“We still have an opportunity to go to a bowl game, which will be huge for this group considering all that we’ve dealt with in the offseason, the schedule that we’ve played,” Anderson said. “But tonight, disappointed with how we played, we’ve got to get better.”
Royals leading the nation in long receiving TDs
Royals’ 57-yard touchdown was his sixth receiving touchdown of 50-plus yards this season. That number leads the FBS. Along with that league-leading mark, Royals also moved into a tie for second on the leaderboards — alongside Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and just behind LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. (who has 13) — in overall receiving touchdowns as he now has 12 on the season.
Eighth straight loss to Boise State
The Aggies have not managed to defeat the Broncos since 2015 in what was a stunning upset of that No. 21-ranked Boise State team. The last five of those losses, including this most recent one, have been defeats of at least 19 points. Furthermore, it makes 20 losses in the last 21 games dating back to 1997. It’s a monkey on the back of the Utah State football program that it can’t find a way to beat the Broncos no matter if the Aggies are at their best or Boise State is at its worst (with the one exception).
Utah State players are in bold, Nevada players in italics.
- Cooper Legas – 8/12, 128 yards, 1 TD
- Taylen Green – 8/17, 93 yards, 2 TD
- McCae Hillstead – 6/12, 53 yards, 1 INT
- George Holani – 15 att, 178 yards, 2 TD
- Davon Booth – 12 att, 125 yards
- Ashton Jeanty – 12 att, 85 yards, 1 TD
- Jalen Royals – 7 rec, 113 yards, 1 TD
- Micah Davis – 3 rec, 48 yards
- Devin Dye – 14 tackles (4 solo)
- MJ Tafisi – 12 tackles (3 solo), 0.5 TFL
- Anthony Switzer – 9 tackles (2 solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL
- Ty Benefield – 7 tackles (5 solo), 2 sacks, 2.5 TFL
- DJ Schramm – 6 tackles (3 solo), 1 sack, 2.5 TFL
- Braxton Fely – 4 tackles (3 solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 fumbles forced
Mountain West Standings
Standings and results updated though 10 p.m. on Nov. 18
|Team||This Week’s Opponent||MW Record||Overall Record|
|UNLV||31-27 W @ Air Force||6-1||9-2|
|Air Force||31-27 L vs UNLV||5-2||8-3|
|Boise State||45-10 W @ Utah State||5-2||6-5|
|San Jose State||vs San Diego State||4-2||5-5|
|Fresno State||vs New Mexico||4-2||8-2|
|Wyoming||42-9 W vs Hawaii||4-3||7-4|
|Utah State||45-10 L vs Boise State||3-4||5-6|
|Colorado State||30-20 W vs Nevada||3-4||5-6|
|Hawaii||42-9 L @ Wyoming||2-5||4-8|
|Nevada||30-20 L @ Colorado State||2-5||2-9|
|New Mexico||@ Fresno State||1-5||3-7|
|San Diego State||@ San Jose State||1-5||3-7|
NEXT UP FOR UTAH STATE — Nov. 24 @ New Mexico. 1:30 p.m. kickoff