LOGAN – Utah State’s regular season and home winning streak came to end after BYU left Maverik Stadium with a 51-28 win. The Aggies had 445 total yards to BYU’s 358, but missed field goals and major mistakes cost the Aggies the game.
“The team that gains the most yards doesn’t always win,” head coach Matt Wells said. “You cant have those issues and expect to win a game of this magnitude against a very, very good BYU team.”
Less than five minutes into the game both teams had already scored a touchdown. The Aggies’ came first when Keeton faked a pitch to running back Kennedy Williams and sprinted 52 yards into the endzone. BYU responded with a 7-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard run into the endzone by Algernon Brown.
USU’s next two drives ended with failed field goal attempts. The first was a 49-yarder that was blocked, the next was one from 32 yards out that bounced off the uprights. BYU was able to hit a 41-yard field goal on its next drive to go up 10-7.
The third time the Aggies lined up for a field goal, DJ Nelson kept the ball on the fake and rushed 13 yards to keep the drive alive. Keeton found wide receiver Hunter Sharp on two-straight plays to move the ball down field before running back LaJuan Hunt finished the job on a 6-yard touchdown run.
After the Aggie defense forced a three-and-out, Keeton started moving the ball again. The 7-play, 58-yard touchdown drive was also a record breaking one for the senior quarterback. His 24-yard touchdown pass to Sharp was the 61st passing touchdown of his career, the most of any Aggie quarterback.
“It was special,” Keeton said of the record-breaking pass. “But at the same time, it was part of the game.”
Utah State had a 21-10 lead with less than 3 minutes remaining in the half, but it didn’t last long. BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum came out and completed a 72-yard touchdown pass to Mitch Mathews on the first play of the drive. Then, when the Aggies had the ball with just seconds left on the clock, Keeton was pressured and dropped the ball while trying to avoid the defenders. BYU picked it up and returned it 37 yards into the endzone as time expired.
“I fumbled, he picked it up and scored,” Keeton said. “I looked at the clock and there wasn’t any time left. More than anything it was me trying to do just a little too much.”
The Cougars entered the second half with a 24-21 advantage and added to it on their first second-half drive. Mangum completed 3 passes for 62 yards, to take a 31-21 lead.
“It was a critical stretch right before halftime and coming out of halftime,” Wells said. “A 21-point swing if I’m not mistaken.”
Utah State struggled to move the ball, but finally got close enough to attempt another field goal, this one a 34-yarder. The kick was blocked and returned by BYU to the USU 10. The Cougars picked up another touchdown on the next play to take a 38-21 lead.
The Aggies fired back with a 86-yard, 8-play touchdown drive that was highlighted by an Andrew Rodriguez 58-yard reception. The score cut the Cougar lead to 10 with almost a whole quarter left to play, but the Aggies didn’t get any closer than that. BYU scored two more touchdowns through the rest of the quarter while shutting down the Aggie offense.
USU finished the regular season 6-6 overall and 5-3 in conference. Wells said it will probably be at least a week until the team knows about a bowl invitation.
“We will be ready to go,” Wells said. “We’ve still got something to play for. We’ve got a chance to maybe win four-straight bowl games.”