A late charge after a gutsy call proved to be the difference in the Battle of the Brothers as the Utah State football team let one get away in a 30-26 loss to the University of Utah.
“Knew it was going to an exciting game and go down to the wire, and they made one more play than we did,” said USU head coach Matt Wells. “Proud of our kids, they’ve got a lot of fight to them, they’re going to win a lot of games. Proud of their effort.”
After pulling to within 23-16, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham called for an onside kick and the Utes capitalized with another touchdown to take the lead, and the Utes finished strong to prevent the Aggies from coming back.
Travis Wilson had a stellar day for Utah, going 17-of-28 for 302 yards and two touchdowns, while junior quarterback Chuckie Keeton finished 31-of-40 for 314 yards and two touchdowns.
Penalties hurt the Aggies early, aiding Utah on one if it’s two first quarter touchdown drives. The Utes became the first team since Idaho in November of 2011 to score a touchdown against USU in the game’s first 15 minutes.
USU finished with seven penalties for 94 yards, including five penalties of the 15-yard variety.
“That’s just something we have to play smarter football,” said junior linebacker Zack Vigil. “I had one where he was out of bounds and I shouldn’t have touched him. Then we had other plays thinking the same thing.”
The Aggies opened up a 23-14 lead in the third quarter, but the offense went stagnant and Wilson led the Utes back through the air.
Keeton left the game for a play in the fourth quarter with cramps, something he said shouldn’t be an issue.
“Just the fact that I wasn’t on the field whenever I could, at all times, that was about it,” Keeton said. “It didn’t really slow me down too much, if anything I just have to be smarter with my body on the field, off the field. It’s another thing I need to improve on, I owe to this team.”
But despite Keeton re-entering the game a play later on 3rd-and-goal, the Aggies were unable to get in the end zone and had to settle for a field goal.
Utah answered right back with a field goal for a 27-26 lead, and the Utes held on down the stretch, adding another field goal as the game wound down for the final margin.
Utah State fell to 0-1 with the loss, and 78-29-4 against the Utes all-time.
Vigil said the Aggies will have to move on quickly as they turn around to face Air Force in the teams MWC opener.
“All of our goals are still there, we still want to win the Mountain West Conference, that’s the main objective,” Vigil said. “So we have to get in the film room, correct what happened tonight. Obviously this can’t happen again as a defense. 30 points is way too much.”
The Aggies and Falcons meet Saturday, Sept. 7 at 1:30 p.m.