LOGAN – The Aggies got their first win of the season and improved to 1 -1 after beating the Idaho State Bengals 40 – 20 Saturday night in Romney Stadium. It was a win that came with much needed relief after the 38 – 7 loss suffered at Tennessee six days earlier.
“We’re not where we want to be,” Head Coach Matt Wells said after the win. “We’re not where we need to be, but we’re happy with the win.”
Early in the game the offense’s drives were often stopped short by the Idaho State defense. The kicking team came out three times to attempt field goals during the first quarter and made two of them. Idaho State matched USU’s field goals with a couple of their own to tie the game up with ten minutes left in the first half. The score remained tied at six until the final minutes of the half.
That’s when the momentum finally kicked in for the Aggies.
With less than two minutes remaining in the second quarter, Utah State would get things going their way with a touchdown run by Rashad Hall. After Idaho State’s next drive failed, JoJo Natson returned the ISU punt 41 yards for a touchdown to make the score 20 – 6 going into the half.
“We could have had that early in the game had we scored touchdowns instead of kicked field goals down in the red zone,” Wells said. “That was a big change of the game. Obviously, probably the stretch that decided the game.”
“I felt like I needed to give the team a spark,” JoJo Natson said of his punt return touchdown. “I picked the ball up and I made a play.”
The offense struggled to move the ball at other times during the night as well. Natson said he feels the offense is there, but execution is the thing holding it back.
“We just have to execute better,” he said. “That’s really our main focus going into next week. And we will. We just have to keep working hard.”
Coach Wells had a lot of praise for freshman cornerback Jalen Davis. Davis had two interceptions during the night, one of them for a touchdown, setting the record for most interceptions in a season by a freshman at USU since 2003.
“Game ball goes to him,” Wells said of Davis. “I think he’s got a chance to be a good player for us if he continues to improve and keep his focus on the things that need to be.”
Wide Receiver Brandon Swindall came out of the game early in the first quarter with a foot injury and didn’t return. Wells said he didn’t know enough about it yet, but said it “doesn’t look good.”
Wake Forest is the next team on the schedule for the Aggies. The Demon Deacons come to Logan next Saturday with a 1 – 1 record.