Cougars scratch Aggies in final preseason game

The Utah State Aggie football team wrapped up the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 35-17 loss Friday night versus in-state rival and No. 20 BYU at Lavell Edwards Stadium. The loss was the Aggies’ tenth straight at the hands of the Cougars. The game was dominated by the BYU offensive and defensive lines. BYU stifled an Aggie rushing attack which has been explosive to this point in the season. The Cougars countered with a strong running game of their own. During the week BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall stressed the importance of gap integrity on the defensive side of the football. The Cougars were pounded by the Florida State running game two weeks ago. Unless the defense could do a better job of staying in their assigned lanes the strong USU running backs possessed the potential to do the same. The BYU defense responded to coach Mendenhall very well and held the Aggies to 109 yards rushing and 2.9 yards per carry. BYU held Aggie star back Robert Turbin to just 47 yards, his lowest output of the season. In the week leading up to Friday night’s game in Provo both BYU and Utah State had been described as having explosive offenses. The defenses, on the other hand, were glaring weaknesses. Both teams appeared to have similar game plans. Time consuming drives and keeping the other team’s defense on the field was important to both teams. BYU controlled the line of scrimmage and won the time of possession battle. The Cougars ran 18 plays and drove the ball 83 yards in over eight minutes to record their first touchdown and tie the game 7-7. The BYU running game was the catalyst for the Cougars dominance. They finished with 213 yards on 43 carries. The two passing games were comparable. Diondre Borel led Utah State with 213 yards on 20 completions. Max Hall threw just 23 times completing 16 passes for 218 yards. Mistakes at key times in the game doomed Utah State’s upset attempt. Diondre Borel continued to have problems pitching the ball on the option. With the Aggies trailing just 14-7 and less than a minute remaining in the first half Diondre tried to pitch to Stanley Morrison. The ball hit the turf and was recovered by the Cougars. The turnover set up a two yard touchdown run by running back Manase Tonga which propelled BYU to a 21-7 halftime lead. Late in the third quarter USU tried to convert on a 4th and 2 from thier own side of the field. Running back Robert Turbin took a hand off and slipped on the turf short of the first down. BYU took over possession and struck with a touchdown extending the lead to 28-10. BYU turned the ball over on the third play from scrimmage. Max Hall completed a pass to Spencer Hafoka who was hit by Bobby Wagner popping the ball into the air. Aggie cornerback Chris Randle snagged it and gave USU a short field. Utah State made good on the short field. Diondre Borel completed a couple of pin point passes and then ran the ball in from six yards out to put USU up 7-0 early. Interceptions remain a problem for Max Hall. The senior quarterback threw two interceptions on successive drives to open the second half. He finished the night by throwing a season total of 10 interceptions which is the most in the NCAA. The first one resulted in a Utah State field goal by Chris Ulinski. Omar Sawyer made an acrobatic catch to put USU into the red zone but a false start helped stall the Aggie drive and they settled for cutting the lead to 21-10. Hall’s two interceptions were made by Aggie safety Rajric Coleman and cornerback Kejon Murphy. Diondre Borel scored one touchdown rushing and threw one touchdown pass to Xavier Bowman in the games closing seconds. Utah State will open Western Athletic Conference play next Saturday when they travel to Las Cruces, N.M. to face the Aggies of New Mexico State.

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