LOGAN – Aggie quarterback Kent Myers said Friday night’s victory over Boise State felt “amazing,” and it probably felt the same way for the thousands of USU students who swarmed the football team on the field after the game.
The celebration was well-deserved.
Not only did the Aggie football players win against a team USU hadn’t beaten since 1997, but they won big, 52-26. It came against the No. 21 team in country and the defending conference champions. The victory, as head coach Matt Wells put it, wasn’t the championship game, but it put the Aggies in the driver’s seat to go get it.
“We’ll control our own destiny,” he said. “That’ll be a challenge, to be able to play with a lead.”
The blowout started early on, most of it thanks to seven first-half turnovers that helped the Aggies pile on points.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything like it in the first half, as far as turnovers,” Wells said. “The key to the game was obviously those turnovers, but it was turning around and getting them into touchdowns.”
But it was actually Boise State that got on the scoreboard first. The Broncos had a 38-yard punt return that helped set up a 46-yard field goal, but the lead didn’t last long. The Aggies responded with a touchdown soon after, but it almost didn’t happen. The USU drive was kept alive by a 51-yard LaJuan Hunt run on third-and-15. Two plays later, Myers faked a reverse on a keeper and picked up 16 more yards, putting the Aggies in the red zone. On fourth-and-1 from the 2-yard line Myers’ pass found tight end Wyatt Houston open in the back of the end zone.
After a quick Boise State three-and-out the Aggie drive once again looked in question, but thanks to a 17-yard Brandon Swindall reception on third-and-6, the Aggies were able to pick up a big 51-yard field goal by Jake Thompson.
The Boise State offense took its turn on the field, then the turnovers started.
A Kyler Fackrell fumble recovery at the Bronco 11-yard line set up a Hunter Sharp receiving touchdown. Then, two plays later, linebacker Nick Vigil forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Jordan Nielson. It set up a LaJuan Hunt touchdown run that gave the Aggies a 24-3 lead.
For a few minutes following the turnover-touchdown chaos, the Aggie momentum slowed down. There were a few defensive stops on each side, then the Broncos scored a touchdown of their own, cutting the USU lead to 24-10, but the score came in an unusual way. Halfway through the Bronco march down the field, quarterback Brett Rypien threw an interception to Jalen Davis on third-and-9, but during the return the ball was fumbled and given back to Boise State, who scored seven plays and 51 yards later.
Boise State again stopped the Aggie offense on its next drive and was looking to cut the lead even more before halftime when the Aggies came up with another turnover. Rypien fumbled the ball after a successful USU safety blitz. Myers used his legs to capitalize off the Marwin Evans-forced, Vigil-recovered fumble and ran 39 yards into the endzone.
Boise State was now down 31-10 and had just 1:20 left in the half to work with, but when wide receiver Chaz Anderson caught the ball on the first play of the drive he was met by a couple Aggie defenders. Anderson lost the ball and USU recovered on the 22-yard line. On the next play Hunter Sharp caught a pass in the opposite corner of the endzone.
“He went up and made a good play,” Myers said. “I tried to put it in the back of the pylon and just put it where he can catch it.”
Now, Boise State had an even bigger deficit with even less time on the clock, and the same story repeated itself. Rypien and his team moved the ball down to the Aggie 33-yard line, but with 17 seconds left, Evans came up big again. He picked of Rypien’s pass and ran it 90 yards into the opposite endzone while time expired.
“The stadium erupted,” Wells said. “I couldn’t hear a thing on the headset.
“To have that right before halftime, that was big.”
The Aggies entered the locker room up 44-10 at the half.
“Guys were fired up, screaming and yelling in the locker room,” Vigil said of his team at the break. “We had to calm everybody down and let them know we still had a second half to play.”
USU picked up one more turnover to start the half. Bronco wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck caught the ball and raced 32 yards down the field but fumbled when caught by Davis. After the turnover, it was a defensive battle for much of the third quarter until Boise State finished a 10-play,48-yard drive with 3:02 left in the third.
When the Boise State offense woke up, so did USU’s. In an efficient 5-play series, Damion Hobbs came in at quarterback and ran for 7 yards, then Devonte Mays ran for 48. Andrew Rodriguez picked up 11 on a Myers pass, then Hobbs ran 8 yards to the Bronco 1-yard line. Mays finished the drive with a rushing touchdown the next play.
“We matched them touchdown for touchdown through most of the third quarter,” Wells said. “Neither team could really get anything going on offense, but I thought the demeanor was good.”
The Broncos scored both a field goal and a touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 52-26, but it was far too little and far too late.
Myers finished completing 17 of 24 passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns. The Aggies improved to 2-0 in conference and 4-2 overall.