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USU football: Local players give Aggies a case for rivalry revival

Published: Saturday, Sept. 8 2012 10:53 p.m. MDT

Utah State fans flood the field after the Aggies defeated Utah 27-20 on Friday night.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah State fans flood the field after the Aggies defeated Utah 27-20 on Friday night. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

LOGAN — There is plenty of room for debate on where the Utah-Utah State rivalry stands after the Aggies' 27-20 overtime victory Friday night. Despite 110 meetings stretching back to 1890, the rivalry doesn't have national notoriety or even carry the same local excitement that Utah and BYU or even Utah State and BYU share. If you are looking for a compelling case to keep the rivalry after the two meet in Salt Lake City next season, look no further than the significance the game holds for local athletes like linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu.

"This game is the world to me. Most of my family members are BYU and Utah fans," Filmoeatu, the West Valley City and Granger High School native, said. "It's hard for them to go for me because I am at Utah State. They look at this team as the little brother of these two. Having all my family members in the stands, I can't explain it. I fell to a knee and I couldn't move. It was the greatest feeling in the world."

BIG NIGHT FOR BARTLETT: Tight end Kellen Bartlett did not get the post-game attention that quarterback Chuckie Keeton or running back Kerwynn Williams did, but a strong case can be made for Bartlett being the Aggies' offensive MVP against Utah. Bartlett was the pressure release valve for Keeton all night, collecting a career-high eight receptions for 47 yards and his first career touchdown.

Utah State Aggies center Tyler Larsen (58) kisses his girlfriend Samantha Miller while celebrating their win over the Utah Utes  in Logan  Friday, Sept. 7, 2012.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah State Aggies center Tyler Larsen (58) kisses his girlfriend Samantha Miller while celebrating their win over the Utah Utes in Logan Friday, Sept. 7, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

"Their linebackers were really antsy and the play calling helped out a lot," Keeton said of the connection he had with Bartlett.

It has been a long road back for Bartlett, who showed signs of breaking out as a junior — including a five-catch, 121-yard performance at Nevada — before suffering season-ending injuries in both 2010 (arm) and 2011 (leg). Thanks to a medical redshirt, Bartlett is back for a second shot at his senior season and is making a difference as both a receiver and a blocker.

AGGIES, UTES GARNER ATTENTION: Thanks to a national broadcast by ESPN2 and the fact that there were no other games Friday night, Utah State became a trending topic worldwide on the social media network Twitter. Current WBC Welterweight Champion boxer and noted gambling enthusiast Floyd Mayweather Jr. was among the many to tweet that they were watching the game. Mayweather had special interest, tweeting out a picture of a betting slip to his more than 3 million followers showing that he put $100,000 on Utah State at halftime. Utah State's victory earned "Money" Mayweather a cool $86,956 in profit.

VIGIL'S KEY BLOCK: The Zach Vigil blocked punt, which was recovered by Clayton Christiensen to put USU up 7-0, was the Aggies' first blocked punt recovered for a touchdown since a 2002 game against Boise State. It also saved what was otherwise an ugly night for USU's special teams: kicker Brock Warren missed both an extra point and a 45-yard field goal, and Cameron Webb fumbled a punt return.

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