LOGAN — Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton and running back Kerwynn Williams had career days as the Aggies took down UNLV 35-13 in front of 24,226 fans Saturday at Romney Stadium on "wear your fighting white day."
The win moved the Aggies to 4-1 for the first time since 1978.
"Can't understate it, it's a tremendous victory," Utah State head coach Gary Andersen said. "It's great to be 4-1."
Keeton and Williams led the charge for the Aggie offense's best game of the season. The unit racked up 564 total yards and was able to hit on home run plays repeatedly through the passing game.
"Obviously Chuckie (Keeton) had a tremendous game," Andersen said. "His numbers will speak for that."
Keeton had eye-popping numbers, finishing with the best day for a USU quarterback in over a decade by completing 20-of-33 passes for 402 yards and four touchdowns. The sophomore quarterback became just the 10th Aggie quarterback to break the 400-yard mark and the first since Jose Fuentes in 2002.
Keeton's favorite target against the Rebels was Williams, a running back who had the best receiving day for a USU non-receiver since 1959. The senior from Las Vegas broke the century mark on the ground and through the air against his hometown team. Williams finished with seven receptions for 147 yards and a score and carried the ball another 20 times for 113 yards in a performance that ranks among the best in his career.
When Keeton wasn't finding Williams in the backfield, he was hooking up with wide receiver Chuck Jacobs down the field. Jacobs was the recipient of two of Keeton's touchdown tosses, one from 50 yards out and the other from 17, and finished with four catches for 101 yards.
"This was the game Chuck really needed," Keeton said of Jacobs. "He really showed what he can do. … Once he has a step on someone, I feel like he's never going to be caught. He's a special kid. He's like a bottle waiting to explode."
After allowing a touchdown in the first half for the first time this season, the USU defense got back to the form that has had it ranked 11th in the nation. Right away in the second half, the defense was put in a tenuous position, as a blown block led to a USU fumble on the first play of the second half and gave the Rebels the ball on the Utah State 22. The defense held its ground and UNLV was forced to settle for a field goal that cut the Aggies' lead to 20-10.
The Rebels were able to put together one more drive in the third quarter, but were again forced to settle for a short field goal to cut the deficit to 20-13 near the end of the third quarter. However, UNLV would not get past midfield again. The Utah State defense then put the cherry on top, scoring the final points of the game on a sack from Jake Doughty and Kyler Fackrell.
"Any time the defense scores, it's a great thing," Doughty said. "We finally did it and it felt good."
Utah State will finish the non-conference portion of their schedule next week as the Aggies will travel to Provo to face in-state rival BYU on Friday night.
Kraig is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter at DesNewsKraig.