Utah State beats the brakes off San Jose State 48-17

Utah State beats the brakes off San Jose State 48-17

Utah State

Utah State beats the brakes off San Jose State 48-17

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(Almost) Complete Domination

In what has become an all too familiar trend, USU got down by double digits early to their opponent. After the rough start due to a couple of turnovers, the team then unleashed a torrent of offense that SJSU was largely powerless to stop. The Aggies played their most complete game of the season and easily handled the Spartans, going 5-0 on the road for the first time since 1973.

Let’s go quarter by quarter on how USU extended their win streak over SJSU to nine and got one step closer to locking up the Mountain Division.

First Quarter

The Spartans won the toss and elected to receive. After the USU defense forced a quick three-and-out, USU’s offense gained very little on its opening drive. The Aggies pinned their punt inside the 10 yard line and then the Aggie defense got another fast three-and-out series from the Spartan offense.

USU again failed to mount a good drive, but they downed the ball again inside the 10-yard line to make SJSU drive the length of the field. QB Nick Starkel woke up from what seemed liked a long winter slumber and completed several big passes to march the Spartan offense down to the Aggie 35-yard line. USU then showed off its penchant for getting tackles for loss on back-to-back plays to force the turnover on downs. Bullet dodged.

Unfortunately, USU’s fortunes soured quickly when QB Logan Bonner threw a pick six to Kenyon Reed on the ensuing drive.

Bonner had been under pressure a fair amount early in this game. He was sacked shortly before throwing the ill-advised ball in a tight window, and the offensive timing wasn’t down yet.

On the very next drive, Bonner took a savage hit by DE Junior Fehoko and lost the fumble to DE Cade Hall. SJSU’s defense was flexing its muscles and the offense then capitalized in a hurry.

Second Quarter

QB Nick Nash took a bad snap and turned it into a big run play for a first down. RB Tyler Nevens then ripped off a 19-yard run to set up 1st-and-goal inside the five, which the Spartans then easily converted using his big frame and head of steam. USU was down 14-0 and positively reeling.

It seemed for a moment that QB Andrew Peasley might come into the game and relieve Bonner. However, Blake Anderson showed faith in his starter and let him redeem himself. And boy did Bonner redeem himself.

To start the drive, Bonner hurled a 43-yard bomb to Deven Thompkins (who else?). After a Calvin Tyler first down run, SJSU got hit with pass interference in the end zone, setting USU up nice and cozy down at the two-yard line. Savon Scarver then scored a TD on a jet sweep.

On the next Spartan drive, USU consistently got pressure on QB Nick Nash. Facing a third and long situation, USU’s defensive line then crunched around Nash and OLB Ajani Carter got the strip sack to set up the Aggies on offense inside the five-yard line.

Bonner then tossed an easy score to Derek Wright to knot the game up at 14 points apiece. Of course Wright hauled it in near the corner of the end zone.

After this point, USU would completely run away with this game. Nick Heninger got a big sack and Nick Starkel even left the game for a while due to an injury scare. USU got the ball back again and wasted no time going on another scoring drive. Elelyon Noa had a strong pair of runs and then SJSU committed another PI penalty to then set up Justin McGriff for an 11-yard catch.

Noa arguably had his best game the season and he punched the ball in from the three-yard line. This would be his fourth rushing TD on the year, putting USU up 21-14 on their hosts.

The Aggie defense continued its stout play and quickly forced another punt after consecutive tackles on Nash by Nick Heninger. The Spartans had no reliable running game and Nash had completed no passes up to this point in the game.

Bonner got roughed by the Spartan defense, which extended the drive. Though Bonner was taking some vicious hits and Peasley came in to relieve him for a bit, the run game got going by Calvin Tyler. This helped set up the Aggies in good field goal position, which Connor Coles then took advantage of with a 32-yard kick. This added an exclamation to 24 unanswered points by USU going into the break.

Third Quarter

USU got the ball to start the half and went three-and-out. The Spartans then got a decent drive going with a big Isaiah Hamilton catch for 16-yards. Inside Aggie territory, Ajani Carter showed up yet again and defended his man well, yielding a 43-yard field goal attempt by the Spartans. This would bring the Spartans closer at 24-17, but they would never score again in the contest.

Bonner threw a 53-yard strike to Thompkins and then Bonner kept the ball on the next snap for a 12-yard scamper. This then set up a five-yard TD grab by Brandon Bowling. San Jose State was completely unable to contain this receiving corps and they were beginning to run out of time.

The Spartans tried to mount a drive, but LB Justin Rice sniffed out a run to get the stop on fourth and one. USU would not respond with a drive of their own on the next possession and punter Stephen Kotsanlee shanked the punt, putting the Spartans at the Aggie 45-yard line in great field position. If SJSU was going to make a comeback, it had to be right here.

Needless to say, it just wasn’t the Spartans’ night. Nick Starkel was unable to corral a wayward snap and Cash Gilliam was right there to fall on the ball and resurrect USU’s drive attempt.

Fourth Quarter

The Aggies got close enough for another field goal attempt, but Connor Coles missed from 28 yards out. SJSU tried to cobble together a drive, but they were unable to take advantage of the Aggie defense jumping offsides and they were short on the third down conversion run. Spartans had to punt yet again.

A quick pass from Bonner helped Thompkins eclipse 100 yards on the night, making it his sixth straight game with 100+ yards receiving. Then, in what was surely the final insult to a Spartan defense that had been getting embarrassed all night, SJSU had too many men on the field. Bonner recognized this and quickly lobbed a 41-yard TD pass to Derek Wright since SJSU was unable to get the timeout registered.

The Spartans had all but packed it in by this point with another three-and-out. USU was on cruise control and notched up another field goal attempt from 40 yards out to go up 41-17.

Nick Starkel threw a long pass over the middle as a last gasp, but Ajani Carter had other plans and intercepted the pass, the first in his career. He then ran it all the way inside the 10-yard line, which Calvin Tyler then capitalized on shortly thereafter with a six-yard rushing TD, ending the Aggies’ scoring at 48-17 for the night.

Final Thoughts

USU played their best game of the season, hands down.

The Aggies ran 80 plays to just 54 for the Spartans, holding the home team to 150 yards of total offense and just 12 yards rushing. This defense has gotten more consistent and they are piling up TFLs at a high rate, ranking third in the FBS with 7.7 per game. Going down the stretch, USU is in great position to make a championship run if they continue this elevated play.

After a bad start for Logan Bonner with the turnovers, the signal caller was then lights out as he amassed 263 yards and four TD passes against a good secondary. He keeps taking hits yet somehow keeps getting up and powering this offense, which has been incredible to witness at times. Aggie fans would do well to appreciate his production as he is the only Aggie QB in school history to throw for four TDs in three consecutive games.

Despite some injuries on the O-Line and secondary, USU is in excellent shape to get their fourth double digit win season in the last decade. Blake Anderson has completely turned the program around in just one season and he has done a phenomenal job here.

Enjoy the ride. There could be as many as four games left to chase down some big records, both individually and as a team.

 

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