by Max Jeppesen
With the team down double digits in the fourth quarter, the result was in doubt for many Utah State Aggie fans. The team never doubted and came back to notch a 25-23 win over the Washington State Cougars.
Defying the Odds
Blake Anderson was not surprised at the result when asked about last night’s comeback win. He became the first head coach to win their debut game since Paul Kreuger in 1973. After a rough 2020 season, it’s clear that the team is behind their new coach. They are ready to take on anyone.
Coming into this game, Utah State was not the favorite. Washington State had many returning offensive weapons and Utah State hadn’t won against a P5 team on the road since 1971.
This was a wild back-and-forth game. Both teams switched up their quarterbacks at times, and both teams even ended up with 30 minutes of possession. This was a battle of who could find ways to outwit the other.
That Aggie Defense Though
Utah State’s defense stole the show early. They only allowed two field goals the whole first half. Patrick Joyner Jr. sacked Jarrett Guarantano for a safety in the second quarter. As for Utah State, finding their man on the offensive side was more of a complicated issue. Both Andrew Peasley and Logan Bonner gave up turnovers in the second quarter.
The halftime score was a 5-6 game with Washington State in front. Some fans thought at this point it looked more like a baseball than football score.
After the safety, Jayden de Laura would be the quarterback for the Cougars. He quickly became a dual-threat who was able to lead Washington State to score 17 points in 18 minutes. It quickly became an 11-23 game in the fourth quarter.
Up to this point, Peasley and Bonner were trading possessions running the offense. Logan Bonner led a nine play 76-yard drive and even converted a fourth and three situation early in the fourth quarter. With 5:30 remaining in the game, Utah State had a second and goal opportunity. They couldn’t settle for field goals any longer.
For the previous 55 minutes of football, the Aggies had failed to score a touchdown; they were tasked to score two in the final five and a half minutes.
On the second and goal, Calvin Tyler Jr. got the job done. The first touchdown of the 2021 season brought USU within five. It was then 18-23 with 5:24 left on the clock. Utah State’s defense needed to quickly stop de Laura.
The Cougars picked up small gains on the first two plays to get to a third and five situation. The junior college transfer Jaylin Bannerman sacked de Laura and forced the punt. It was the first time de Laura was sacked the whole game. It came at the most crucial moment. USU got the ball back with 2:54 left on the clock.
Logan Bonner had to cover 78 yards for the win. After another fourth and three conversion and a pass interference rule, Utah State was seven yards away from victory with only 13 seconds left. On first and goal, Logan Bonner slotted a brilliant pass to Deven Thompkins for the touchdown! The Aggies took the lead 24-23! The two-point conversion was the nail in the coffin. The Aggies won 26-23 and thwarted a last second attempt to lateral the kickoff down the field.
To say that this game was a comeback is an understatement. It’s clear that Utah State trusts their coach and can compete against high-caliber opponents on the road. The defense was impressive. For years, Washington State has been a powerhouse offensively. Allowing under 400 yards on the road against the Cougars doesn’t sound amazing, but it is.
Offensively, the Aggies struggled. Both quarterbacks made terrific plays and also some mistakes. It is unclear who will be the starter at the moment for the game against North Dakota. It would not be surprising to see a similar rotation as the one the Aggies showed against Washington State.
Featured image courtesy Young Kwak | AP