I thought the offense played great. The scoreboard doesn’t show it, but we knew this was going to be a grinder game. We knew CSU was going to show up and the battle was going to be up front. Our offense did great to pull out a win, and our defense did excellent to get the goose egg. —Utah State running back Joey DeMartino
LOGAN — The Utah State defense knew it was going to be in for a challenge against Colorado State. Running back Kapri Bibbs had run for 603 yards and 10 touchdowns in the previous two games, and the Rams were winners of four of their last five games. The defense answered the challenge with a shutout, its first since a 49-0 victory over Arkansas State on Oct. 25, 2003, leading the way for a 13-0 victory over the visiting Rams (6-6, 4-3 Mountain West) in front of 20,284 fans at Romney Stadium.
“You’ve got a great chance to win a game if you shut someone out,” Utah State head coach Matt Wells said after the game.
Not many would have predicted a low scoring affair from two teams that both average more than 35 points per game, but the Aggies (7-4, 6-1) proved again that they can win games of all types. The USU offense collected only 191 total yards, 43 of which came through the air. With the offense sputtering, it was the defense that picked up the team. Brothers Nick and Zach Vigil both picked off Rams quarterback Garrett Grayson, but the big key was holding Bibbs and the explosive Ram running game to just 38 total rushing yards on 34 carries, a mark that left Wells dumbfounded.
“Is that really true?” Wells asked when glancing at the box score rushing totals. “Holy moly. Great job.”
With the wind whipping out of Logan Canyon, neither team found any success throwing the ball. Aggie quarterback Darrell Garretson completed just eight passes for 43 yards while Grayson finished with 147 yards throwing. One player that wasn’t affected by the wind was Aggie punter Jaron Bentrude, who consistently pinned CSU deep in its own territory, downing eight of nine punts inside the 20.
“Our guys were very opportunistic in the kicking game,” Wells said. “It’s field position football. I’m proud of Jaron.”
The bright spot for the Utah State offense was running back Joey DeMartino, who had 127 yards on a career-high 35 carries and scored the game's only touchdown. The 35 carriers were not only a career-high for DeMartino, but the most for an Aggie since Emmitt White in 2001.
“I thought the offense played great. The scoreboard doesn’t show it, but we knew this was going to be a grinder game. We knew CSU was going to show up and the battle was going to be up front,” DeMartino said. “Our offense did great to pull out a win, and our defense did excellent to get the goose egg.”
Neither team was able to get much of anything going in the first half. On short field position, Utah State was able to carve out an eight-play, 25-yard drive just before the end of the first half, culminating in a Nick Diaz 24-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead to the locker room. USU capitalized on that momentum with another scoring drive coming out of the break that ended with a DeMartino 1-yard scoring plunge to push the lead to 10-0. Diaz finished the scoring with a 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Utah State has now won seven games in three straight seasons and has one more game left in the regular season as it hosts Wyoming next Saturday at noon.
Kraig Williams is a 2010 Utah State University graduate and regular Deseret News sports blogger. He can be followed on Twitter @DesNewsKraig.