LOGAN — Homecoming was sweet for Utah State as it routed UNLV 59-28 to move to 2-0 in the Mountain West.
"A really great win for our guys," said head coach Matt Wells. "It's big for us to play really good and find a way to win in Maverik Stadium. To do that again this week is great. It also met one of our goals. We're trying to be undefeated at home, so that's another step in that direction."
The Aggies actually got off to a rough start as usually sure-footed kicker Dominik Eberle missed a 25-yard field goal on the Aggies' first drive. UNLV, not Utah State, struck first as running back Lexington Thomas took the ball into the end zone from 1 yard out with 5:38 left in the first quarter.
But Utah State showed that it can score with terrifying swiftness.
On the next drive, Jordan Love found Jordan Nathan for a 24-yard touchdown. The next Aggie drive ended with a 80-yard TD pass from Love to Jalen Greene. The next drive, Love found Savon Scarver for a 26-yard score shortly after Jontrell Rocquemore picked off UNLV's Max Gilliam. Special teams struck next as Deven Thompkins blocked a punt that Baron Gajkowski scooped and scored. The next two drives for Utah State ended with a 7-yard TD rush for Darwin Thompson and a 7-yard pass from Love to Ron'quavion Tarver.
Utah State scored 42 unanswered points in 18:17 to end the first half. All of this came during a stretch when a little rain and even a little hail was falling at Maverik Stadium.
"That just shows that when our offense gets rolling, we can get rolling and put up points in a hurry," said Love. "It was fun to be out there."
"That stretch in the second quarter was unbelievable, when it started to hail. I think for a while I needed it to hail some more. When the sun came out we struggled a little bit. That's a credit to our guys," Wells said.
The defense was also disruptive as the Aggies finished with seven sacks and 11 tackles-for-loss against the Rebels. Linebacker David Woodward set a new personal record with three sacks against UNLV, but he's still looking at the things the defense can improve on moving forward.
"We have a pretty good pass-rushing team this year," said Woodward. "We're not quite there yet, but we're heading there. We need to clean up the little things. Every week we have a few mistakes that need to be cleaned up."
While everything seemed to go right for the Aggies, special teams didn't exactly have a special day other than the punt block. Eberle missed his first two field goals of the season, while Nathan fumbled a punt return that UNLV quickly turned into a touchdown.
But UNLV simply had no answer for Love. He finished the day 17-for-23 for 322 yards and five touchdowns. His five TD effort tied a school record for the most passing TDs in a single game, and he left the game late in the third quarter. Who knows what kind of records he could have set had he stayed in the game.
And in typical Jordan Love fashion, the sophomore quarterback gave a lot of credit to his offensive line.
"That's huge. Zero sacks. Not a lot of people get to say that," said Love. "We're playing really good right now. It's hard to get past them, so I feel really safe."
Utah State now sits alone on top of the Mountain Division after New Mexico lost to Colorado State. The Aggies were picked fourth in the division before the season started. Now, they just might be the favorites.
"I think that we're a force in the Mountain West," Love said.11 comments on this story
But the Aggies are focused on just their upcoming trip to Wyoming.
"Going to Wyoming, that's a tough place to play. We've got to have a good week this week preparing for them, and everyone's got to be focused on that game," Love said.
"It's going to be us against the whole city of Laramie. Everyone is going to have brown and yellow on. That's a tough place to play. They've certainly beat us the past two years," Wells said. "It will be an extremely tough challenge to go on the road and win, but we'll see where we're at."