LOGAN – Fresno State stuck around for most of the game, but a two-touchdown fourth quarter helped the Utah State football team put away the Bulldogs 38-20 in Maverik Stadium Saturday night.
The win came after three-straight conference losses and a bye week. Head coach Matt Wells said he is proud of the way his players have been able to ignore the outside negativity and continue to fight. He said the win gave him hope.
“It’s hard to win games in college football,” he said. “There is a lot of doubters out there, whether it is media, it is people around, whatever. I thought our guys did a tremendous job the last two weeks of really focusing on what’s important.”
The win was USU’s first in conference this year.
“It feels good,” quarterback Kent Myers said. “It feels like we’re getting our mojo back. This program is used to winning and we just needed to find that first win.”
Myers completed 17-of-29 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran the ball eight times for 66 yards.
After forcing a three-and-out to start the game, Utah State scored on its first drive of the game. A 21-yard touchdown pass to Braelon Roberts capped off the seven-play, 60-yard drive, but Fresno State retaliated later that quarter. After moving the ball from its own 19 and down field inside the Aggie 10, the Bulldog offense faced a fourth-and-1. The field goal attempt was good, but a rare defensive delay-of-game penalty was called against USU before the snap. The penalty gave Fresno State a first-and-goal, which it turned into a three-yard rush touchdown the next play.
The Aggie offense had difficulty sustaining drives throughout the first half, but the defense and special teams combined to help the Aggies score. Immediately following a three-yard Derek Larsen sack, corner back Jentz Painter followed up his own six-yard sack with a blocked punt on the very next play. The block turned into six points when it was recovered in the end zone by Austin Cheney.
“I came untouched and went and blocked the punt and it was right there,” Painter said. “Actually the ball was on the one-yard line. I was kind of hesitant of what to do, if I should jump on it … I passed it down to my boy Cheney and got the touchdown.”
USU added three more points in the first half on a career-long 43-yard Brock Warren field goal, but Fresno State found the endzone with just 24 seconds left in the second quarter. The 13-play, 77-yard drive cut the Aggie lead to 17-14 at the half.
“I was so proud of Brock (Warren),” Wells said. “Into the wind, drilled that thing.”
Each team scored once in the third quarter. USU’s eight-play, 75 yard opening drive included three runs by Myers for 36 yards and a 28-yard completion to Roberts. Tight end Wyatt Houston finished it with a five-yard touchdown grab.
“We got a good first run for a first down,” Myers said of the half-opening drive. “After that we stressed on scoring. When we get past the 50 we got to score.”
Fresno State responded with a 27-yard field goal on a 65-yard drive where its offense faced third-and-nine or longer four times.
Just 35 seconds into the fourth quarter Ron’Quavion Tarver got his foot in corner of the endzone while catching a 25-yard pass from Myers. USU moved the ball 59 yards in a drive that took only 1:17 off the clock, its quickest scoring drive of the game.
“Credit goes to the receivers,” Myers said. “They made some good plays when the ball was in the air, my lineman gave me good protection up front. Everything was good all around.”
Fresno State trimmed USU’s lead to 11 after a 49-yard field goal on its next possession, but the Aggies were able to top it with another touchdown. Quarterback Damion Hobbs came into the game on two separate occasions during the 11-play,75-yard drive and ran four yards in the endzone to finish it.
The Aggies are now 1-3 in conference and 3-4 overall. The team will stay at home to take on the San Diego State Aztecs in a Friday night game.