SAN JOSE, Calif. — In a game chock full of glowing offensive numbers, Utah State couldn't be stopped.
And the Aggies' defense did its part, too, as nine players combined forces to pile up a school-record 13 sacks as USU steamed past San Jose State 49-27 in the two teams' Western Athletic Conference opener Saturday at Spartan Stadium.
Nine Aggies combined for a school-record 13 sacks, senior running back Kerwynn Williams scored three rushing touchdowns and sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton had four total touchdowns — three passing, one rushing — in leading Utah State to its largest margin of victory on the road since a 34-7 victory at North Texas in 1999.
Utah State improves to 5-2 on the season and 1-0 in league play with the win as USU has now won six straight WAC games dating back to last season. USU has also won five of its last seven road games, including each of its last three in WAC play. Overall, USU has now won 10 of its last 13 games dating back to the 2011 season, which is its best stretch since the 1972 and 1973 teams combined for a 10-3 record during a 13-game stretch.
San Jose State had its four-game winning streak halted and falls to 4-2 overall and 0-1 in the WAC with the loss.
Utah State's defense set the tone for the game on the very first play as junior linebacker Jake Doughty sacked Spartan quarterback David Fales. Junior defensive lineman Connor Williams, junior cornerback Nevin Lawson, redshirt freshman linebacker Kyler Fackrell and redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jordan Nielsen all had a career-high two sacks in the game. Aggies with one sack against SJSU included senior linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu, senior defensive lineman Al Lapuaho, junior defensive lineman A.J. Pataiali'i, and sophomore linebacker Zach Vigil, along with Doughty.
Despite getting sacked on the first play of the game, San Jose State drove down to the Utah State 8-yard line before settling for a 25-yard field goal, marking the first time this year USU has allowed any points in the first quarter.
Utah State's first touchdown of the game came on a 17-yard pass from Keeton to senior wide receiver Chuck Jacobs midway through the first quarter after driving 86 yards in 13 plays, taking 4:10 off the clock. On its next series, Keeton hit senior wide receiver Matt Austin with a 5-yard pass as USU drove 53 yards in just four plays, using 57 seconds. The Aggies' third touchdown of the game came on the first play of its next series as Williams scored from 50 yards out. And USU's final touchdown of the first half was on a 21-yard pass from Keeton to junior wide receiver Travis Van Leeuwen as USU drove 50 yards in six plays, taking 2:29 off the clock.
San Jose State then scored 17 points on its final three possessions of the second quarter to make the halftime score 28-20 in favor of Utah State. The Aggies now hold a 116-42 scoring advantage in the first half this year, including a 68-3 margin in the first quarter.
Williams got Utah State going in the third quarter as he scored from 86 yards out to give the visitors a 35-20 advantage. That 86-yard burst by Williams was the eighth-longest rush in school history and the longest since Robert Turbin had a school-record 96-yard run at Utah in 2009. On its next series, Keeton scored on a 28-yard run to cap an 8-play, 68-yard drive to make the score 42-20 with 9:55 to play in the third quarter.
San Jose State scored its only points of the second half late in the third quarter on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Fales to Noel Grisby, but the Spartans could not get any closer as Williams added his third touchdown run of the game from 12 yards out late in the fourth quarter to make the final score 49-27.
Williams finished the game with 176 rushing yards on just 15 carries (11.7 yards per carry) as he had scoring runs of 50, 86 and 12 yards. For Williams, it was his third 100-yard rushing game of the season and the fourth of his career. His three rushing touchdowns were also a career-high as he now has six rushing touchdowns this year and 13 in his career.
Keeton was 26-of-35 passing for 273 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and those 26 completions are a career-high. For Keeton, it was his eighth career 200-yard passing game and the third time he has thrown at least three touchdown passes in his career. Keeton also had 47 yards rushing on six carries including his 28 yard touchdown run, his first of the season.
Austin had a team-high six catches for 93 yards, including his fourth touchdown reception of the season and 10th of his career. In all, 10 Aggies caught passes in the contest.
For the game, Utah State had 485 yards of total offense (273 passing, 212 rushing) and averaged 8.2 yards per play, despite possessing the ball for just 21:36 and running just 59 offensive plays.
Fales was 38-of-50 passing for 467 yards with three touchdowns to lead San Jose State as the Spartans finished with 471 yards of total offense (467 passing, 4 rushing). The Spartans ran 92 plays in the game (32 more than USU) had controlled the ball for 38:24.
Along with its school-record 13 sacks, Utah State also limited San Jose State to 4 net yards rushing to rank tied for the 14th-fewest rushing yards in a game in school history.
Along with his career-high two sacks, Fackrell also tied his career-high with 11 tackles (7 solo) to go along with a forced fumble and fumble recovery.. Senior safety McKade Brady added 10 tackles (6-solo) for his fourth double-digit tackle outing of the season and the seventh of his career. Vigil also tied his career-high in tackles for the fourth time this season with 10.
Utah State returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 20, when it hosts WAC foe New Mexico State (1-5, 0-2) at 1 p.m. The game will be televised regionally on KMYU TV.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company