Aggies uses last-minute commute to beat UNLV 28-24 – Cache Valley Daily

Photo by Robert Scott

LAS VEGAS — It took a handful of late defensive saves and a last-minute touchdown, but Utah State football overcame missed opportunities to leave Allegiant Stadium with a 28-24 win over UNLV Saturday night.

The Aggies improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference. The Rebels remain winless at 0-6 overall and 0-2 in conference.

USU head coach Blake Anderson said he was worried ahead of the game. He broke the 0-5 record and said the UNLV was more than capable of winning, especially if his guys were not playing their best football.

“There are a lot of things we haven’t done well,” he said. “At the end of the day the guys were resilient and kept fighting, which they have been doing all year. We found a way to make some big plays in the home stretch when we absolutely had to. “

Those big plays included defensive saves, a fourth down conversion, and big runs as the running game struggled earlier. Endgame heroisms are nothing new to this Aggie team. In every win this year, USU has trailed by at least 10 points. Safety Aggie Shaq Bond, who finished with two interceptions, said he knows Utah State is not the biggest or the fastest team, but believes his teammates can “beat it all.” the world ”and that this gives the USU a conditioning advantage late in the game.

“We can run for days,” he said. “You could see us huff and puff, but I’m not kidding, our legs are cool even in the third and fourth trimester.”

Aggie quarterback Logan Bonner completed 21 of 32 passes for 285 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the win. Wide receiver Deven Thompkins caught 12 of those passes for 180 yards and both touchdowns.

Having a player who flaunts those kinds of numbers is a dream for any head coach, but Anderson said Thompkins’ biggest impact is his work ethic.

When your best player is the hardest worker in the room, everyone gets better.He said.

For the Rebels, Charles Williams did most of the damage. The senior running back averaged 8.2 yards per carry, picking up 221 yards and three touchdowns.

“He’s physical,” Anderson said. “He ran through arm tackles the entire game. I thought his patience and his vision were really, really good.

Bond said there had been no half-time adjustments from the coaches. They were only told to “take (Williams) to the ground”.

“Tonight I went to see (Williams),” Bond said. “I was like, ‘Dude, you’re running hard, boy. It was better than what I had seen in a movie.

Heading into the game, Aggie Savon Scarver wide receiver had six career TDs returns, but had none this season or last. Getting a seventh would match it for the most part in NCAA history. Scarver said he became frustrated at not having the opportunity to return kicks, mainly because opponents weren’t kicking the ball at him, but believed this week would be his chance. He said he noticed in the movie that the UNLV kicker tended to only hit him towards the goal line. His opportunity presented itself and he took advantage of it. Scarver went from end zone to end zone early in the first quarter and is now tied for the record.

“This guy is electric,” Anderson said. “He was excited and ready to go. He did exactly what he needed to do and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

What made it more special for Scarver was that it was happening in his hometown of Las Vegas.

“I had friends and family here from all over,” he said. “Just to come home and tie the record means a lot to me.”

Aggie’s defense had little response for Williams and the UNLV offense early on. The Rebels collected a 26-yard field goal on their first practice and followed it with back-to-back touchdown passes from Williams on subsequent possessions.

It was big games that put Utah State on the board in the first half. The first touchdown came on Scarver’s record-breaking kick return. The second came from Thompkins, who managed a 37-yard pass from Bonner in the end zone. There was potential for more points in the first half, but missed opportunities dampened Aggie’s offense. The USU were 0-2 in the red zone before the break, including a practice that ended at the 1-yard line. Penalties, an interception and a 52-yard misfire sent the USU to halftime 17-14 behind.

Utah State took their first lead in the opening practice of the second half, moving the ball 45 yards in five games and finishing with Thomkins’ second catch in the end zone. UNLV retaliated, again using Williams in an ongoing attack, the USU had little response. Williams’ third touchdown gave UNLV a 24-21 lead halfway through the third.

The USU had the opportunity to tie the game with 12:32 left, but Connor Coles’ field goal was off target. Then with just 5:16 to go, Coles’ 41-yard attempt was blocked. Aggie’s defense held on, keeping UNLV’s lead to just three and the win close at hand.

“There will be times when the defense struggles and the offense has to pick them up,” Anderson said. “We saw it earlier in the year. The thing I told them in the locker room is that there will be times when we don’t make good plays, but keep shooting for each other… We see that play out.

The USU defense gave Bonner and the offense one more opportunity, forcing a punt with less than three minutes remaining. It took nine plays, a fourth conversion and just over two minutes, but Elelyon Noa finished the 60-yard run with an 11-yard touchdown run with 2:46 left. UNLV was unable to retaliate.

Utah State will return home to face Colorado State on Friday night at 7:30 pm The Rams are 3-3 overall, but at 2-0 in the conference, they lead the Mountain Division standings.






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