USU, BYU football: Aggies steam to 31-16 victory over Cougars
Aggies dominate stumbling Cougars in Logan
Ravell Call, Deseret News
LOGAN — In the end, Utah State partied like it was 1993.
It marked USU's first win in the series since a 58-56 triumph in October 1993 — and Aggie fans rushed the field to celebrate.
"A tremendous victory for us. It was something we have been looking for, obviously, for a long time," said USU coach Gary Andersen. "Against a quality team, in a packed house, on ESPN, I guess we can call it a rivalry now, huh? We finally got a victory."
Yes, perhaps the rivalry between the pair of in-state teams was reborn.
"It was a nice win for Utah State and their program and their fans," said Cougars' coach Bronco Mendenhall.
BYU suffered its fourth consecutive loss this season, and it's the first time the Cougars have had a four-game losing streak since 1993. Ironically, the fourth setback that season was also courtesy of USU.
BYU is reeling like it's 1973, which is the last time the Cougars opened a season with a 1-4 record.
"This is BYU football. We're better than that," said disappointed true freshman quarterback Jake Heaps, who completed 27-of-55 passes for 270 yards and two interceptions. "Utah State came out and played a great game."
So what went wrong for BYU Friday night? Just about everything. And the Cougars' troubles were similar to the ones in their previous three losses.
Once again, they had trouble scoring, they gave up big plays and they generally looked out-of-sync.
"Just execution," Mendenhall said when asked to explain his team's struggles. "In multiple situations over and over and over again. We continue to need to play more cleanly and more precisely, to move the football and make critical stops when we need to."
And this wasn't a blowout loss to a team with a winning record, like Air Force, Florida State or Nevada. USU entered Friday's contest with a 1-3 record and coming off a humbling 41-7 loss at San Diego State.
By the way, what team is up next for BYU? That would be San Diego State.
The Aggies looked faster, hungrier and more prepared than the Cougars and controlled the game from start to finish.
After taking the opening kickoff, BYU drove to the Utah State 38 but was forced to punt. The Aggies and Cougars then traded punts before quarterback Diondre Borel connected with Xavier Martin on a 79-yard touchdown pass to give USU the early lead, 7-0.
"I don't feel like that was devastating at all," said senior cornerback Brandon Bradley of that play. "It was just a missed assignment. They ended up making a big play on it and they capitalized on our mistake."
Suddenly, the momentum was on USU's side, and it stayed there for the remainder of the contest.
The Cougar offense sputtered and the Aggies took a 10-0 advantage at the end of the first quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Braeden Loveless.
USU increased its lead to 17-0 after a 12-play, 62-yard drive that took 4:35 off the clock and culminated with a one-yard TD run by Borel midway through the second quarter.
For the game, Borel completed 10-of-13 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed 10 times for 68 yards and another TD.
The Cougars showed some signs of life on their next series, which began with a 34-yard kickoff return by Logan native J.D. Falslev. Heaps completed a 21-yard pass to Devin Mahina to put BYU in USU territory. On third-and-8 from the Aggies' 20, Heaps' pass was nearly picked off by cornerback Chris Randle out in the flat. Had Randle caught the ball, he likely would have returned it for a touchdown. Instead, the ball went through his hands and into the arms of Cougar receiver Cody Hoffman for a nine-yard catch.
Still, BYU was unable to capitalize, settling for a 23-yard field goal by Mitch Payne. But it did put the Cougars on the scoreboard, making it 17-3.
But the Aggies weren't done yet.
USU's Kerwynn Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 67 yards, setting up a two-yard touchdown run by Derrvin Speight. And the Aggies ran into the locker room with a commanding 24-3 lead at halftime.
BYU's woes continued in the second half. After holding USU on its first possession, the Cougars advanced to the USU 31 before Heaps threw three straight incompletions — two of them into the end zone. BYU came up empty again when Payne missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt.
USU answered with another touchdown, on a one-yard run by Speight, to put the Aggies up 31-3.
The Cougars finally reached the end zone in the third quarter on a one-yard run by Bryan Kariya. It was BYU's first second-half touchdown since the season-opening victory over Washington.
In the fourth quarter, the Cougars had a chance to cut even more into that deficit, but Heaps threw his second interception of the game.
BYU managed to get back into the end zone with 31 seconds remaining in the game on a three-yard run by J.J. DiLuigi to make the final score 31-16.
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