Aggies fall short against USC on road

Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton, left, is sacked by Southern California defensive end Leonard Williams during the second half of their NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES – There are no moral victories.

That’s the mentality for the Utah State football team after a 17-14 loss to USC on Saturday at the Coliseum.

In a defensive struggle, the Aggies and Trojans duked it out in what USU head coach Matt Wells called a “slugfest.”

<span>”You glance at the stat sheet and you can see it. It’s down to the yard. It was an old-fashion gladiator slugfest,” Wells said. “Defensively, we played on a short field the whole second half and besides the one scoring drive, we weren’t able to flip the field and credit to them. But I’m proud how our guys bowed up in the red zone and on a short field against those guys.”</span>

<span>USU’s defense came up big in the second half, holding USC to three points on the Trojans final five possession that started on the Aggies’ half the field. But the offense failed to get anything going after starting their final five possessions inside their own 20.</span>

“<span>We had time to throw and guys weren’t open down the field. It’s twofold, whether it’s protecting the quarterback or getting open down the field,” Wells said. “They present a bunch of problems on the back end and on the front end too. That’s a really good front seven.”</span>

<span>Brandon Swindall and Travis Reynolds each caught a touchdown pass for Utah State, but the scores came after a big play. Joey DeMartino had a 55-yard run to set up Swindall’s catch, and Joe Hill had a 24-yard run to set up Reynolds.</span>

The Aggies mustered 285 yards of offense to the Trojans’ 282, but special teams failed on a field goal, a fake punt and shanked a punt to set up USC’s winning field goal in the fourth quarter.

Utah State fell to 2-2 with the loss, while USC improved to 3-1. The Aggies last five losses have been by a combined 15 points to a MAC team, a Big 10 team, an Independent team, and two PAC 12 teams.

The Aggies return to conference action on Saturday, Sept. 28 when they travel to San Jose State to face the Spartans.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST.

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