LOGAN, Utah – Senior placekicker Nick Diaz converted on a 39-yard field on the last play of the scrimmage to help the Aggie offense record a 78-77 win against the Aggie defense in front of approximately 6,000 fans here Saturday on Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium in the annual Blue vs. White Spring Game.
With a special scoring system, the offense got six points for a touchdown, three points for a field goal, two points for a rush of 15 or more yards, two points for a pass of 20 or more yards, one point for a first down and one or two points for respective conversions. The defense earned six points for a touchdown, five points for a turnover, three points for a three-and-out, three points for a blocked field goal, two points for a stopped drive, sack or tackle for loss, as well as one or two points for failed respective conversions.
Utah State’s offense got solid production from a number of players including two running backs as junior Rashad Hall had 124 rushing yards on 15 carries, while sophomore Kennedy Williams had 95 rushing yards on 19 carries, including a 4-yard touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Darell Garretson was 11-of-26 passing for 221 yards and two touchdowns, while senior quarterback Craig Harrison was 13-of-27 passing for 145 yards with one interception.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Nick Markosian had five receptions for 60 yards to lead the wideouts, while junior Brandon Swindall caught three passes for 71 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown. Redshirt freshman Braelon Roberts added three receptions for 55 yards, and freshman Damoun Patterson had three receptions for 54 yards.
Junior linebacker Jarom Baldomero led the Aggie defense with eight tackles, while junior linebacker Kyler Fackrell had two sacks as part of his three tackles. Sophomore cornerback Devin Centers added four tackles to go along with an interception he returned 80 yards and a forced fumble in the red zone.
In all, the Aggie defense registered five sacks and 10.0 tackles for loss during the spring game, while forcing three turnovers.
Utah State’s offense scored field goals on its first two series as Diaz connected from 42 yards and sophomore kicker Jake Thompson hit from 34 yards out. USU’s first touchdown came three series later on a 29-yard pass from Garretson to Swindall to cap a 5-play, 69-yard drive.
On Utah State’s next series, Centers intercepted a Harrison pass and returned it 80 yards before being tackled at the 2-yard-line. The defense then took over and forced the offense into a 20-yard field goal by Diaz.
From there, the Aggie defense forced six-straight three-and-outs with two to end the first-half and four more to begin the second-half before the Aggie offense scored touchdowns on back-to-back possessions as Garretson hit senior wide receiver Ronald Butler with a 5-yard touchdown to cap a 4-play, 86-yard drive, and Williams added a 4-yard touchdown run to cap a 5-play, 75-yard drive.
Utah State’s defense then held the Aggie offense without any points during the next two series, while forcing two turnovers, as Centers forced a fumble at its own 1-yard-line that was recovered by junior linebacker Torrey Green, and freshman linebacker Derek Larsen intercepted a pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Brown and returned it 22 yards.
The offense’s final two scores of the scrimmage were via field goals as Thompson converted from 47-yards and Diaz connected from 39-yards for the winning points on the last play of the scrimmage after the Aggie offense had an 8-play 53-yard drive in the final two minutes.
Utah State returns 15 starters (O-6, D-5, S-4) and 41 letterwinners (O-19, D-18, S-4) from last year’s 9-5 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Championship team that also went 7-1 in league play to win the Mountain Division to advance to the inaugural Mountain West Championship game.
Among those returning for Utah State include eight players who have earned various all-conference accolades including senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton who was a first-team all-Western Athletic Conference selection as a sophomore in 2012 before missing the final nine games of the 2013 season due to injury. Senior defensive end B.J. Larsen, senior linebacker Zach Vigil and junior linebacker Kyler Fackrell all earned second-team all-Mountain West honors a year ago, while senior safety Brian Suite, senior placekicker Nick Diaz and junior wide receiver/punt returner JoJo Natson all earned honorable mention all-MW accolades in 2013.
Utah State will open the 2014 season on Sunday, Aug. 31 at Tennessee and play its first home game the following weekend as it hosts Idaho State on Saturday, Sept. 6. USU will begin Mountain West play on Saturday, Oct. 11 at home against Air Force.
For Aggie football ticket information, fans can contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the “Buy Tickets” tab at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on Facebook at Utah State Football, as well as on Instagram at instagram.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
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<em><strong>UTAH STATE FOOTBALL SCRIMMAGE QUOTES</strong></em>
<strong>HEAD COACH MATT WELLS</strong>
<strong>Overall thoughts on the spring game:</strong>
“It’s a great day to be an Aggie. The coolest thing is seeing all of these alumni and lettermen coming back and supporting the program. That’s important to us that our players understand the support that they’re given and the legacy that has been left before them.”
“As far as the game, can it get any closer than that? We tried to create some excitement and get it down to the end. To see Nick Diaz hit a game-winning field goal is cool and a neat way to end the spring. It’s been very productive and I thought today was good in a lot of ways. It can get a little sloppy at the end when you start moving guys around and taking guys in and out but that’s okay, it’s part of the spring game. I thought the running backs stood out a little bit today. It was good to see Rashad Hall and Kennedy Williams get down hill, they did some really nice things out on the perimeter. Brandon Swindall continues to play well, I’m happy with him. I thought our kickers did well, they stood out to me right out of the gate. Jaron Bentrude punted well and I thought both kickers did really well also.”
<strong>On Devin Centers standing out:</strong>
“That’s a great indication of a playmaker. He started doing that in practice one and he’s done it throughout. He did it in the early scrimmages and our mini-scrimmages and then again today. He’s around the ball and he’s in the right place at the right time. Coach (Todd) Orlando is playing him in a bunch of different positions. He’s going to be a really good player for us on defense. The big thing is that he’s playing with such confidence, you can just see it by the way he carries himself. A lot of that started with special teams last year.”
<strong>On the competition between the offense and the defense:</strong>
“It’s healthy. I think our kids really know how to practice against each other and I’m really happy with that. That’s a hard culture to create to have the competitive spirit combined with the competitive nature, yet combining it with what we call ‘Aggies taking care of Aggies.’ We’re not going to cheap shot or anything like that. Our guys are very competitive and they leave it on the field. I think that will make us a strong team come the fall.”
<strong>JUNIOR RUNNING BACK RASHAD HALL</strong>
“I think the offense did good. The first five all did great at blocking. And just like always, our defense was ready to go. Overall, everybody did great today. It was a great day for a scrimmage.”
<strong>On his play:</strong>
“To be honest, I give it all to my offensive line. Anybody could have done what I did. I just saw the hole and I took it. But my offensive line gets all the credit.”
<strong>JUNIOR LINEBACKER KYLER FACKRELL</strong>
“Well, the defense lost so that’s never good. I think a lot of guys really stepped up. We did a pretty good job overall. They had some big pass plays, which is not ideal. A lot of guys like Devin Centers played great. Alex Huerta made a lot of plays. I think overall, the spring has been great to develop a lot of guys.”
<strong>On the play of Devin Centers this spring:</strong>
“He’s done an amazing job of picking it up, coming from not playing at all, and knowing all his assignments and being physical. He’s got a lot of athletic ability, and he’s done a great job.”
<strong>SOPHOMORE CORNERBACK DEVIN CENTERS</strong>
“I thought it went pretty well. The defense could have played a little better, but that’s why we’re here. We’re here to get better. We’re going to work hard and be competitors, so we can come out here and win the Mountain West and go to a bowl game.”
<strong>On his interception return:</strong>
“I feel like I would have gotten in, but we can’t hit quarterbacks. I couldn’t just run through the quarterback, I had to cut it back, but it’s okay. In a game, it’ll be a different story. I’ll be in the end zone, we’ll be celebrating and all the crowd will be cheering.”
<strong>SOPHOMORE RUNNING BACK KENNEDY WILLIAMS</strong>
“First of all, I want to talk about the offensive line. They did a really good job today giving us a good push. Our guards on our inside zone were pushing really good today. The running backs in general had a pretty good day. A lot of guys stepped up. Karris Johnson had a good couple of runs, even Matt Tolbert came in late in the game. Rashad Hall showed that he can be a good person for us this fall. Everything else kind of fell in for us today.”
<strong>On having his brother, former Aggie Kerwynn Williams, on the sideline today:</strong>
“It was cool having him in there. He gave me a couple pointers here and then. Talking about how I should make my cuts and some pass protection information.”
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