SACK ATTACK: USU records 13 sacks in 49-27 shellacking of San Jose State

<strong>SAN JOSE, Calif.—</strong> On the first play of Saturday’s game against San Jose State, Jake Doughty sacked Spartan quarterback David Fales. It was something Fales would become very familiar with as the Aggies tallied an astounding 13 sacks en route to a 49-27 road win.

“The scheme was great. Credit first goes to the kids, they were tremendous in getting to the quarterback and harassing him and making him pull down the ball,” USU head coach Gary Andersen said in a postgame interview with KVNU.

Coming off its worst offensive performance of the season, the USU offense also responded in a big way. Sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton got USU going early with two first quarter scoring passes, and Kerwynn Williams tore off runs of 50 and 86 yards as the Aggies rolled up 485 yards of offense against the Spartans. 

Expectations were high for the Spartans coming into Saturday’s game. The Spartans were off to a 4-1 start with a three point loss to Stanford as their only blemish. They were also coming off a bye week and were hosting the Aggies for their Homecoming game.

Early on, however, it was all Utah State.

After SJSU put a field goal on the board on its first drive, the Aggies reeled of 28 unanswered points. The first score came on a 17-yard TD pass from Keeton to Chuck Jacobs. A few minutes later, Keeton threw a great touch pass to Matt Austin on a 5-yard fade for a score. Austin finished the game with six catches for 93 yards and that touchdown.

Not to be outdone, Williams scored on the first play of USU’s next drive. After receiving great field position following a poor punt, Williams found a seam on the left side of the line and then exploded up the sideline for his 50-yard score. With 9:26 still remaining in the second quarter, Keeton finished the run as he connected with Travis Van Leeuwen for a 21-yard strike to put the Aggies up 28-3.

However, just when it looked like the Aggies were going to run away with the game, San Jose State responded. The Spartans scored 17 points during the final 6:18 of the first half. The final score came courtesy of a Noel Grigsby 20-yard TD catch with 24 seconds left. Both Grigsby’s touchdown and his first down catch prior to the score were reviewed, as the throws were low and may have touched the ground. The referees didn’t find enough evidence to overturn the call on the field of a catch in both instances though, so the plays stood.

Grigsby torched the Aggies for the second year in a row, as he finished with 11 catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns. And, despite leading by as many as 25 in the first half, USU found itself only up one score with a 28-20 lead going into the break.

“We didn’t play as well as we thought we would today on defense,” said USU defensive end Connor Williams who recorded two sacks. “They’re a real tough offense … we knew we had to bring our A game today and definitely stepped it up in the second half and shut down a lot of what they were doing.”

Similar to the first quarter though, Utah State finally shook off its third quarter woes and mounted an attack on the Spartans. The Aggies started with the ball, and on a crucial third down and three from their own 14 yard line, Williams made sure they got it.

The senior back, who was held to 18 yards rushing last week, found another seam and then erupted for an 86 yard touchdown – the eighth longest run in school history. The score put USU back on top by 15, and put the momentum back on the Aggies’ side. Williams finished with 15 rushing attempts for 176 yards and three touchdowns – and 11.7 yards per carry average.

“Obviously that was blocked out extremely well and he hit the jets and away he went,” Andersen said. “It’s hard to catch Kerwynn when he gets in that position, and he had another tremendous game with big, big plays.”

A few minutes later, Keeton added to the score as he kept the ball on an option read and ran for a 28-yard touchdown – his first rushing score of the season – on third down and one. With barely five minutes gone by in the second half, USU had stretched its lead back into the 20’s.

“The offensive staff I thought did a tremendous job in preparing for this game. We had some big plays, we were consistent or the most part,” Andersen said. “We still had the one turnover in the third quarter this time, which we obviously didn’t want to get, but it was after we scored twice this time, so that helped.”

San Jose State refused to give up as Grigsby scored his second touchdown of the game to cut the lead back to two scores for the Aggies. As well as the USU defensive front played, Fales had a great game through the air as he completed 38-of-50 attempts for 467 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

However, the sacks kept coming, and coming, and coming for the Aggies as Fales finished with negative 98 yards rushing which was a major reason the Spartans finished the game with only four rushing yards.

Williams added his third and final touchdown of the game on an untouched 12-yard jaunt. That score came after freshman linebacker Kyler Fackrell recorded the trifecta against Fales. Fackrell beat his defender to record the 13th sack of the game on Fales, he also caused Fales to fumble and then recovered the ball for the Aggies as well.

“I didn’t know we had 13 sacks, that’s big time there, but I still think we could have done better,” Connor Williams said.

Coming into the game it was the Spartans – the WAC leader in sacks – and defensive end Travis Johnson expected to apply the pressure. Instead, they were held without a sack as USU nearly doubled its season total in the category.

The Aggies return home from their second two-game road trip of the season to face off against the other Aggies of the Western Athletic Conference – New Mexico State (1-5, 0-2). The Southern Aggies have struggled so far this season, and have yet to win an FBS game. That game will kickoff at 1 p.m., and if USU (5-2, 1-0) wins, they will become bowl eligible.

“I’m sure everybody will come out and I just really appreciate all the support. The people are there, and then hopefully we can play well again,” Andersen said. “It does take us all, and we all know there is a tremendous homefield advantage in Logan. It’s a loud place to play, it’s an obnoxious place to play for an opposing team to walk into, and this is our team.”

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