Eric Draper, AP
Without quarterback Chuckie Keeton, the Utah State offense has been looking for a spark. It found it Saturday night in Albuquerque as the Aggies demolished New Mexico, 45-10.
“I’m so proud of these kids,” head coach Matt Wells said post game on KVNU 610. “This win changes everything for us.”
The man of the night was running back Joey DeMartino. The senior had been hampered by injuries in the Aggies' last two games but exploded against the Lobos. DeMartino carried the ball just 12 times but finished with 144 yards rushing and three touchdowns and added three catches for another 41 yards and a score for good measure.
“Good game by Joey. I thought he ran hard,” Wells told KVNU. “He’s been hobbled up and banged up. I’m really proud of him.”
Darrell Garretson got the starting nod at quarterback for the Aggies. Despite it being his first career start, the true freshman looked poised in the pocket and was efficient and accurate on his throws. Garretson finished 15 of 23 passing for 144 yards and a touchdown. Most importantly, Garretson didn’t turn the ball over after throwing two interceptions last week against Boise State.
“I thought Darrell played really efficient and really well,” Wells said to KVNU. “I thought it was all the guys around him, the wide receivers, the tight ends, everyone.”
Defensively, the Aggies shut down the Lobos in every way imaginable. The defense set the tone of the game early, forcing a fumble on the Lobos' first possession, which led to DeMartino’s first rushing score just a minute and a half into the game.
New Mexico came into the game averaging 349 yards rushing, the second highest mark in the nation, but finished with just 158. Of those 158 yards, 75 came on the Lobos' penultimate drive of the game, which led to New Mexico’s only touchdown of the game.
“The front seven won the game for us on both sides of the ball,” Wells told KVNU. “We shut down the run and were able to run the ball.”
Not to be left out of the fun, the Aggies' special teams produced two touchdowns. Bruce ‘JoJo’ Natson scored the first USU punt return touchdown since Kevin Robinson in 2007 just before the half.
“All season I’ve been wanting to return one back so bad. The punt return team held up and I found a seam and hit it,” Natson told KVNU after the game.
Punter Jaron Bentrude called his own number and added a 72-yard run for a score on a fake punt in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring for USU.
The Aggies will get a chance to heal up on a much needed bye week next Saturday before returning home against Hawaii on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 2 p.m. USU finishes with three of its final four games of the season at Romney Stadium.
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