Aggies fall to Utes in Andersen’s first game, 35-17

The Gary Andersen football era at Utah State started with an explosion of offense Thursday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, but the Aggies eventually fizzled out in their season opener against the No. 19 Utah Utes, falling 35-17.The Utes used a two-man wrecking crew of Matt Asiata and David Reed to wear down the Aggie defense en route to the win in front of ninth-largest crowd in Utah history.The Aggies fought back after going down early to make it a contest in a rivalry which has seen a number of lopsided scores favoring the Utes in the past decade. The Aggies managed to move the ball 67 yards on their first drive, but weren’t able to find paydirt in the end zone, settling for a 29-yard Chris Ulinski field goal.On the ensuing Utes drive, Asiata fumbled on the second play giving the Aggies another possession that ultimately ended in a missed field goal.While the Aggies battled back and forth with the Utes for the first half (they went into halftime down 26-17), they wore down in the second half, not scoring and going 0-12 for the game on third-down conversions.Andersen said the third-down conversion rate was unacceptable, and he was holding the offensive line accountable for that.”You’re not going to win many football games if you’re 0-for-12 on third downs,” Andersen said. “I don’t put that on (Aggie QB) Diondre (Borel). Right now I’m putting that on the offensive line before I see the tape.”During the game, specifically in the second half, Borel had several passes batted down by the Ute offensive line.There were several highlights for the Aggies, however. Perhaps the biggest was a 96-yard run from Robert Turbin in the first quarter. It set a new school record for longest run in Aggie history.”Our receivers did a great job blocking that first, so that gave me a little leeway to be able to outrun those guys at the end of the play,” Turbin said. Despite that personal highlight, Turbin said it was a tough loss for his team.”It hurts, it obviously hurts,” he said. “We have to do a much better job in the second half.”Going back to the first half, after Ulinski’s missed field goal, Utah capitalized, needing only two plays to change the momentum by scoring a touchdown on a pass from Terrance Cain to David Reed. It was a short slant pattern against man coverage and Reed broke one tackle and got an open field block allowing him to carry the 65-yard pass into the end zone. The Utes never looked back on the scoreboard.Utah State expected a steady dose of Matt Asiata and the Utes running game and that’s exactly what they got. Asiata carried the ball a game-high 36 times and finished with 164 yards on the ground. What the Aggies didn’t expect was a breakout game from Reed at receiver. Reed had 10 receptions for 172 yards. Asiata and Reed accounted for 336 of the Utes’ 519 yards of total offense.Asiata’s skills on the ground were matched by Turbin’s effort, however. Turbin exploded for 151 yards on just 13 rushes. With the Utes leading 14-3 in the first quarter and the Aggies backed up near their own end zone, Turbin took the handoff on a zone read play from Borel. He broke through the line and made his record 96-yard run. The Aggies will next take on the Aggies of Texas A&M in College Station on Sept. 19.

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