Fresno State controls second half, beats USU 41-24

On likely their last stop in Romney Stadium as a member of the Western Athletic Conference, Fresno State (2-0, 1-0 WAC) controlled the second half and left with the win, beating Utah State University (1-2, 0-1 WAC) 41-24.Utah State never trailed in the game until early in the 4th quarter, always striking first only to have Fresno State answer. The tide began to turn against the Aggies near the end of the third when Fresno State forced Aggie quarterback Diondre Borel into a fumble (which the Aggies recovered deep behind the line of scrimmage). Fresno followed that up with a blocked punt by Jamel Hamler. The momentum was theirs for the rest of the game, ultimately outscoring the Aggies 24-0 to end the game. “The blocked punt really changed the momentum of the game,” USU’s Dervin Speight said after the game. “That gave us a dagger.” “We gave them an opportunity to deliver a big time game and we didn’t,” USU head coach Gary Andersen said after the game. “We were not effective in all three phases in the second half.”USU gave up 140 yards of rushing in the second half, produced only 121 yards of total offense in the second, and had numerous problems on special teams. The Aggies gave up 99 yards on punt returns and 110 yards on kick off returns for the game. Not only did USU struggle with its kick off and punt coverage, they also struggled with their own punting, garnering only 33 yards a punt on average. USU had four more kick off returns, but could not amass as much yards as Fresno did.”They changed field position all night long,” Andersen said. “That’s the way it was.”USU was not able to contain Fresno State’s adequate replacement for their injured starting running back. A.J. Fields ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns Saturday night. By contrast, Borel was the Aggies’ leading rusher with 66 yards on 17 carries.Utah State started the game clearly trying to establish a run game, carrying the ball 28 times to Fresno’s 16 in the first half for 119 yards. USU also ran gutsy plays, opting for a fake field goal and fourth down conversions. Borel electrified the crowd by escaping what looked to be a sure sack by two Bulldog defenders. Borel escaped the pressure and delivered an eight yard touchdown strike to Dontel Watkins. By the time the game ended, however, Fresno caught up in rushing attempts (44 to USU’s 45) and passed USU on total yards, out-rushing the Aggies 230 to 205. USU only tallied 121 yards of total offense in the second half (only 36 in the fourth) and had several series in a row where they were unable to convert on third down.”I need to do a better job of getting ourselves in a better position to win games,” Andersen said of the loss.NOTES: Peter Caldwell’s 50 yard field goal in the first half was a career long for him. Caldwell, Chris Randle and Rajric Coleman suffered injuries in the game. The extent of their injuries is unknown at this time. “It’s difficult to lose all three,” Andersen said of the injuries. “That puts three freshman in a situation where they’ll have to compete.” Attendance for Saturday night’s game was announced at 19,059.

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