Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Utah State Aggies safety McKade Brady (36) celebrates an Aggie safety during the UNLV game in Logan Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012.

The Utah State Aggie football team is leading the No. 19 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the de facto WAC championship game at the half, 17-3.

Half of the story in the first half has been the strength of the Utah State defense. The No. 2 offensive team in the country was held to 182 total yards (83 passing, 99 rushing) and three total points.

Louisiana Tech's offense began moving the ball down the field in earnest during the second quarter. In that quarter, the Aggies held them to a field goal and intercepted a pass in the end zone.

The other half of the story has been penalties. At one point early in the second quarter, the Bulldogs had moved farther down the field because of Utah State penalties than because of their own offense.

USU scored two offensive touchdowns in the first half, but a third touchdown was called back because of a holding penalty and personal foul. Kicker Nick Diaz went 1-for-2 on his field goal attempts in the first half.

Utah State extended its remarkable streak of first-quarter dominance. The Aggies have outscored their opponents in the first quarter by more than 100 points over the course of the season.

The only other time that Louisiana Tech has trailed by a significant margin this season was against Texas A&M, the same A&M team that knocked off No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Landon Hemsley is sports content manager for