We did not win the game in the trenches. Their O-line dominated our D-line and their D-line dominated our O-line. I don’t think there is a bigger story than that. —Utah State coach Matt Wells
LOGAN — A week after handily defeating the rival BYU Cougars and claiming the Old Wagon Wheel, the Utah State Aggies were on the wrong end of a beat-down. The Colorado State Rams came into Logan Saturday afternoon and treated Maverik Stadium and Merlin Olsen Field like their personal playground, defeating Utah State 27-14.
“Colorado State is a good team. They played well, “said Utah State head coach Matt Wells. “We did not play well. I think that is what it boils down to.”
The Rams were dominant in almost all facets of the game, racking up 509 yards of total offense, 293 through the air and an additional 216 on the ground. Rams quarterback Nick Stevens was electric, completing 22 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Running back, or more fittingly, battering ram Izzy Matthews rushed for 84 yards and a score, while fellow CSU ball carrier Dalyn Dawkins tallied 121 yards on the ground.
“We did not win the game in the trenches,” said Wells. “Their O-line dominated our D-line and their D-line dominated our O-line. I don’t think there is a bigger story than that. They gave (Stevens) time to throw, they created running lanes for their backs. With a guy that is as good as Nick Stevens, with as good of wideouts as he has, you can’t do that and expect to win.”
By way of comparison, the Aggies were only able to muster 212 yards of offense, 152 via the arm of quarterback Kent Myers. The Utah State (3-3, 1-1) rushing attack was nearly nonexistent, as LaJuan Hunt and Eltoro Allen combined for a measly 37 yards on 12 carries.
“I thought we would move the ball. I thought we would have a lot more success than we did,” said Wells. “I thought we would be able to throw it on them. I knew running the ball would be a little tough, but I thought our passing game would make up for it. We simply didn’t execute. We didn’t play well.”
That was clear from the outset. The Aggies had the first crack at it, with Colorado State (4-2, 2-0) electing to defer possession until the second half, but the Aggies were forced to punt three unimpressive plays later.
The Rams meanwhile marched straight down the field, thanks to Stevens. The senior gunslinger was a perfect 5 for 5 on the drive, including a 15-yard pass to tight end Cameron Butler for the opening touchdown of the game.
The Rams scored 10 more points in the period, on a 33-yard field goal by Wyatt Bryan and a five-run rumble by Matthews.
CSU added an additional score, its final touchdown of the game, early in the second quarter when Stevens connected with Dalton Fackrell.
“(CSU) completely won the first quarter and most of the second,” said Wells. “Basically the entire first half.”
The Aggies did have a brief bright spot in an otherwise gloomy first half, courtesy of DJ Nelson. The third-string quarterback and special teams player put Utah State on the board midway through the second quarter when he blocked a Rams punt and then carried the ball into the end zone.
“We did a good job, as far as special teams went,” said Nelson. “We got the block, which was all 11 guys doing their job. I just believed I could get there, attacked, and it worked out.”
“(Nelson) is an unselfish kid. He is a team guy,” said Wells. “He is a smart and savvy player and is the quarterback of our special teams. We all appreciate him.”
The block was Nelson’s second of the season and his first career touchdown as an Aggie.
Unfortunately for Utah State, the blocked punt failed to confer any sort of momentum. The Aggies' offense, despite more than a few possessions in the second half, was unable to find the end zone. That is until the final minute of the fourth quarter, when the game was all but decided.
“We played them even in the second half I thought,” said Wells. “It was just too little too late.”