LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — JoJo Natson touched the ball only seven times in Utah State’s victory over Wyoming on Friday night. He needed only two to decide the game.
Natson returned a punt 80 yards for touchdown and had a 66-yard scoring run in Utah State’s 20-3 victory.
Utah State (7-3, 4-1 Mountain West) became bowl eligible for the fourth straight year. The Aggies have never played in four consecutive bowl games.
The 80-yard punt return is Natson’s longest in the two years he has been returning punts and the second punt the junior wide receiver has returned for a TD this season. The 66-yard run also is the longest of his career.
Natson’s punt return and scoring run both came in the Aggies’ 17-point first quarter.
On the punt return, the speedy 5-foot-7, 151-pound Natson faked right and broke left all the way down the sideline.
“It was a nice feeling to finally being able to spring one out,” he said. “A lot of teams are not wanting to kick it to me this year, but I made the best of it.”
His scoring run also went down the left side after he came across the formation and raced around the left tackle.
“The offensive line, the wide receivers blocked so well,” Natson said. “I just seen a nice lane, wide open, and I just sprung it up.”
Natson finished with 99 yards on three rushes and caught three passes for 2 yards.
“He played well with the ball in his hand,” Aggies coach Matt Wells said. “He got out on the perimeter and he can make a guy miss, and he’s got the speed to hit a home run.”
Wells said being bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive year is a “tremendous accomplishment by our kids.”
“To be part of something that’s never been done at your school is a special, special deal,” he said.
Kent Myers completed 13 of 16 passes for 150 yards.
Nick Diaz had field goals of 20 and 28 yards for Utah State, which had to make the trip to Laramie and a short turnaround after playing at Hawaii the previous weekend.
While the Aggies gained 356 total yards, they were held to 2 of 10 on third-down conversions.
Wyoming (4-6, 2-4) was led by last week’s national player of the week, Brian Hill, who ran for 122 yards on 25 carries. It was Hill’s third consecutive 100-yard game since entering the lineup full-time on Oct. 24 because of injuries to Wyoming’s top two running backs.
Hill had 387 all-purpose yards, including 281 rushing, in Wyoming’s 45-17 victory over Fresno State last week.
Against Utah State, the Cowboys ran 75 plays and gained 363 yards, but two interceptions on Utah State’s side of the field and a season high 10 penalties for 95 yards thwarted several scoring opportunities.
“We made some plays here and there, but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot,” Cowboys receiver Jake Maulhardt, who caught six passes for 89 yards, said.
Wyoming’s only points came on a 37-yard field goal by Stuart Williams. It was the fewest points allowed in a game by Utah State this season.
Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said he was encouraged by the play of his defensive unit but lamented the discipline lapses and “self-inflicted wounds.”