LOGAN — Strange things are said to occur under a full moon. And while the huge harvest moon lingering in the sky above Maverik Stadium Friday night was stunning, it might be the only way to explain the rather unusual nature of the Aggies' 34-20 victory over the Red Wolves.
Up 24-0 at halftime, Utah State (2-1) had to hold on for dear life in the second half as the Red Wolves (0-3) grabbed the momentum immediately after intermission.
Playing without starting running back Devante Mays, who suffered a knee injury in last week's loss at USC, the Aggies struggled to maintain drives — until it mattered the most, that is.
Clinging to a 27-20 lead with 7:28 left and starting inside of its own 10-yard line, Utah State ate up seven minutes of clock time on a 13-play drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Tonny Lindsey with 29 seconds left.
Quarterback Kent Myers played a major role during USU's game-clinching drive, breaking loose for a 30-yard run on one Aggie third down and long, and then 20 more yards on another third and long.
Myers ended up rushing for 63 yards on 11 carries while completing 11 of 25 passes for 136 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Starting in place of Mays, Lindsey finished with 98 yards and two TDs on 19 carries.
Utah St vs Arkansas St highlights. The Aggies won 34-20. pic.twitter.com/hCWwobsgI8— Carra McManamon (@curramac22) September 17, 2016
Penalties were a killer for Arkansas State, which racked up 18 infractions for a total of 129 yards. The Red Wolves totaled 70 rushing yards on 31 carries, but sophomore quarterback Justice Hansen came off the bench to complete 18 of 26 passes for 277 yards, one interception and one touchdown.
After being held to three-and-out on its first possession of the game, the Aggies were able to capitalize on a unique miscue by starting ASU quarterback Chad Voytik on the Red Wolves' first drive. While looking to pass on first and 15 from his own 38-yard line, the football slipped sideways out of Voytik's right hand and the ball was promptly picked up by Aggie defensive end Siua Taufa at the 30.
While trying to advance the football, Taufa was quickly bottled up by Red Wolves, but then the ball squirted backwards out of his hands in what may or may not have been a no-look-pass attempt to teammate Edmund Faimolo. Fortunately for the Aggies, the ball ended up in the hands of Devin Centers after it bounced off of Faimolo, and the senior center managed to carry the ball all the way to the 18-yard line before finally being brought down.
During the bizarre play, which was reviewed by the officiating crew, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was also called on Arkansas State, leaving the Aggies with first and goal at the 9. Three plays later, USU wide receiver Ron'Quavion Tarver went up and over ASU cornerback Blaise Taylor in the end zone to snare a pass from Myers that left the Aggies up 7-0 with 11:29 left in the first quarter.
Utah State added a 38-yard field goal by Brock Warren and a 1-yard TD run by backup quarterback Damion Hobbs in the first quarter, and a 28-yard touchdown run by Lindsey in the second quarter to take a 24-0 advantage into the locker room.
But the Red Wolves changed the game around in the third quarter behind Hansen, who gave ASU a huge spark that resulted in two quick scores in the third quarter.
A 30-yard field goal by Warren with 2:40 to go in the third quarter helped stop the bleeding, but the Red Wolves managed to get two field goals of their own in the fourth quarter to pull within a touchdown and keep Aggie fans very nervous.