LOGAN – With the game tied at 16 in the fourth quarter, head coach Matt Wells called a trick play. Instead of picking up what looked to be an easy field goal, he called DJ Nelson’s number, who was in the game as a holder. Nelson ran four yards for the score.
“I thought we were going to grab some momentum right there,” Nelson said. “Defense was going to come out and get a stop and we were going to win the game.”
The score put the Aggies on top 23-16, but it wouldn’t last. Led by quarterback Josh Allen, Wyoming scored the game’s final 12 points to leave Merlin Olsen Field with its second-straight victory over USU.
“It’s a hurt locker room right now,” Wells said after the game.
The Aggie offense put up 363 total yards to Wyoming’s 293, but the Cowboys were able to grab three interceptions and recover two Aggie fumbles.
“The turnover margin said it all,” Wells said. “It was the difference in the ball game.”
There didn’t seem to be any of the momentum Nelson was hoping for. Allen responded to the trick play touchdown with a 63-yard drive that led to a tying field goal and a subsequent 63-yard touchdown drive to take a seven-point lead. Even after the two scoring drives USU’s offense still had 3:38 to work with, but running back LaJuan Hunt, who led the Aggies with 75 rushing yards, fumbled the ball at midfield.
“That was the first close game we were in,” Wells said, “and there were too many mistakes going down the stretch.”
The defense was able to force a punt after the fumble, leaving Myers with 49 seconds to score, but the senior quarterback was sacked for a safety.
“It was just rough,” said linebacker Suli Tamaievena, who led USU with 14 tackles. “Right now I can’t even talk. I felt like we were going to win this game.”
USU had plenty of positives to start the game. Senior safety Dallin Leavitt picked off Allen’s pass on Wyoming’s first offensive play, leading to a Dominik Eberle 45-yard field goal.
On the next offensive series, running back Tre Miller recorded his first collegiate stats. The freshman brought in an eight-yard Myers pass, but soon fumbled after getting his first carry. Wyoming recovered the ball on the USU 42, moved it inside the 10 and tied the game on a 21-yard field goal.
The Aggie offense had only moved the ball 25 yards in its first three drives, but was able to go 62 yards in its fourth try to set up Eberle’s second field goal of the game, a 31 yarder. The Cowboy offense responded with its longest drive of the game. Allen used his feet to convert on two fourth downs during the series, including a fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. The extra point attempt missed.
Trailing 9-6 midway through the second quarter, redshirt freshman Jordan Love came in at quarterback. The first drive ended in an interception, but the second went for six. He led the team 38 yards on six plays before wide receiver Aaren Vaughns took the ball on a reverse. Vaughns threw the ball to the endzone for the first pass of his career, a 29-yard completion to Braelon Roberts. The trick play and subsequent extra point put USU up 13-9.
Wells decided to keep playing Love. He did well during his second drive, which resulted in another Eberle field goal and a 16-9 halftime lead, but the freshman quarterback followed it up with two straight interceptions – the first one a pick-6.
“I made the call to continue to play Jordan,” he said, “because I thought he had a hot hand.”
Myers got the rest of the reps at quarterback. His first drive back set up Nelson tying touchdown on the fake field goal, but that was the last time the offense scored.
The Aggies fell to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in conference. Utah State will travel to Las Vegas next Saturday to take on UNLV.