A frustrating season for the Utah State football team came to a frustrating close Saturday as the Aggies dropped a 23-13 decision to Cal State-Fullerton.
The loss, in front of 2,119 at Santa Ana Stadium (everyone must have been across town at the USC-UCLA game) left the Aggies with a 4-7 overall record and a 4-3 mark in Big West play, which will leave them in a tie for third place. Meanwhile, Fullerton improved to 5-6 and 5-2.Twice the Aggies failed to score after reaching the 1-yard line on two different series and that proved to be the difference in the game. The first try came in the first half, when Brent Synder's pass was intercepted. The second came early in the fourth quarter when the Aggies failed to score in four tries inside the 3-yard line.
For the day, the Aggies held the ball for 13 more minutes than the Titans and gained more yards (389 to 378), but were unable to come up with thebig plays.
"It was a frustrating day," said USU Coach Chuck Shelton. "We didn't capitalize on our opportunities to score. It was about as frustrating as anything I've been through."
The Titans wasted little time in scoring as they took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards in just five plays with Dan Speltz throwing a 35-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Celestine. Although he completed just 15 of 28 passes, Speltz made the most of them with 297 yards through the air.
Late in the quarter, the Aggies put three points on the board when Russ Moody kicked a 27-yard field goal. The kick was set up by a fumble recovery by Steve Davis at the CSF 14-yard line.
On their next series, the Aggies got down to the one-yard line. But on 2nd down, Brent Snyder's pass to Ryan Duve was intercepted by linebacker Jerry Leggett.
From there, the Titans took the ball right down the field and made it 14-3 on a 33-yard pass from Speltz to Rocky Palamara.
Three minutes later the Aggies scored on a 7-yard pass from Snyder to Patrick Newman and it was 14-10 with 9:05 left. The TD capped off a 95-yard drive.
Just before the half, the Aggies closed the gap to one at 14-13 after an interception by Travis Clark, his fifth of the year. A pass to Newman was ruled just out of the end zone and the Aggies settled for a 38-yard Moody field goal.
The Titans improved their lead to 20-13 on a 59-yard Speltz-to-Palamara pass. The PAT try was blocked by the Aggies.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Aggies got down to the 3-yard line on a pass to Tracy Jenkins. A penalty, an incomplete pass and a run by Demetrius Brown put the ball on the 1. Another run by Brown came up short and then on 4th and 1, a pass to Kendal Smith was batted away.
"The first time down there we tried to pass and had it intercepted, so we decided to stay with the run and we still didn't score," said Shelton. "I guess you can second-guess yourself forever."
The Aggies had just one possession after that, but an interception by Sean Fernandes at the CSF 30 ended the threat. From there the Titans ran out most of the clock, scoring on a 36-yard field goal by Stan Lambert with 21 seconds left.
Snyder finished the day with 25 completions in 43 attempts for 282 yards. That gave him Aggie records in season pass attempts and completions and in career attempts and completions. He came up 122 yards short of Tony Adams' mark for career yards.