LOGAN — It was the defense that got it done for Utah State on Friday night.
BYU was held to just 16 points, its lowest scoring output in this rivalry since 1982. In the process, Utah State exorcised 17 years worth of demons and beat the Cougars for the first time since 1993.
"I guess we can call it a rivalry now that we got a victory," Utah State coach Gary Andersen said after the game.
The game was a triumph for Andersen after an up-and-down week for himself and his team.
Following a 31-point drubbing at San Diego State last week, things only got worse for Andersen as he suffered a neck injury at home Monday morning that forced him out of practice for a few days.
"This has been an emotional week. I have never missed a practice before in my life, and I missed one this week, Andersen said. "It felt great to get back on the field with the boys on Wednesday."
Andersen is normally hands-on with the defense, but had to defer this week to his coaching staff as he spent time at home recovering.
In his place, defensive coordinator Bill Busch installed a defensive game plan that held BYU all-purpose running back JJ Di Luigi to just 42 yards rushing.
"Coming into the game we knew that (Jake Heaps) is a freshman quarterback so he'd look to check down," linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "Our game plan was to stop No. 10 (Di Luigi), you stop him and you stop their offense."
The secondary also played a huge part for the Aggie defense, coming up with two interceptions.
"The game plan this week was to play a lot of man and let the front seven stop the run," said senior Chris Randall.
Coming off an ankle injury that limited him last week at San Diego, Randall was able to come up with a crucial interception in the first half that set the tone for the rest of the game.
The turnovers and the stout play of the defense provided the Aggies good field position and enabled Aggie quarterback Diondre Borel to do his thing.
For the Aggies and Andersen it marks another corner turned for the program.
"We've made major strides; to beat BYU means major strides in in-state recruiting," Andersen said regarding the long-term effects of the victory over BYU. "It's a stepping stone for us and a very positive one."
For for, though, the Aggies are not worried about the long term, and instead will savor a much-needed victory.
"We still have a long ways to go. Tonight we are going to enjoy this victory, said Andersen. "This is a great opportunity for these kids to experience a victory like this, and especially at home, especially with the crowd like that in front of us."
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