LOGAN — If there was a chink in the armor of the growing legend of Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton coming into Thursday night’s season opener against Utah, it was that his numbers were not great in big road games.
At Wisconsin last year, Keeton gave Utah State a chance to win but finished just 18-34 for 184 yards as the Aggies fell just short. At BYU it was a similar story: 22-38 passing for 202 yards in a three-point loss.
Against Utah on Thursday night, Keeton put to bed any notion that he was only a product of a soft schedule. The junior finished 31-40 throwing for 314 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 15 carriers for 85 yards, including a sensational diving touchdown that gave the Aggies a 23-14 lead in the third quarter.
Utah defenders struggled to bring Keeton down as he seemingly eluded them at every turn, changing seemingly sure sacks into positive plays for the Aggies over and over again, almost single-handedly keeping Utah State in the game.
Despite a phenomenal individual performance, Keeton did not see many moral victories and took much of the blame for the Aggies' 30-26 loss to the Utes.
“The offense did a lot of good things, but at the same time we had too many three-and-outs,” Keeton said after the game. “I put a lot of that on myself. I need to be smarter in this offense. It’s my team. It’s Jake Doughty’s team. It’s Zach Vigil’s team. We all need to step up, including myself. I put a lot of the loss on myself.”
It’s hard to imagine what more Keeton could have done individually, but there is no doubt that the Aggie offense’s third-quarter stall out changed the complexion of the game. Following Keeton’s touchdown run, Utah State held the momentum and a nine-point lead. Another touchdown drive might have been enough to put away the Utes or at least provide the Aggies a nice fourth-quarter cushion.
Instead, the Utah defense made adjustments and the Aggies endured back-to-back drives without registering a first down. The Utah offense responded with a touchdown drive to close the gap and then recovered an onside kick. What was a winnable game began to slip away from USU.
“There is always going to be adversity in every game and I guess that was it,” Keeton said. “It’s all about how we respond to adversity and we didn’t exactly respond in the right way. That’s something we, as captains, need to pick up. Hopefully we will and will come out of this next game with a W.”
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter @DesNewsKraig.
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