Utah State tamed by Wyoming 44-17

Utah State tamed by Wyoming 44-17

Utah State

Utah State tamed by Wyoming 44-17

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With their destiny fully in control for a conference title, USU laid a big egg against an aggressive Wyoming team on senior night. The Aggies fought through early struggles to stay close for a half, but superior physical play and opportunistic plays from the Cowboys were simply too much to overcome late.

As much as I’m gonna hate writing this, let’s recap how Wyoming was able to dominate USU on the road, quarter by painful quarter.

First Quarter

The game started with Wyoming taking the ball. They went three and out quickly and punted to the Aggies. QB Logan Bonner was able to engineer a drive into Wyoming territory, but it stalled out on 4th down, and going for it didn’t pay off at the 36-yard line.

QB Levi Williams was able to move the Pokes into Aggie territory on the ensuing drive. Williams then sustain a personal foul from the Aggie defense, but not until after he tossed a 40-yard bomb to Isaiah Neyor for a TD.

USU got the ball back and responded with a 75-yard TD drive of their own. RB Calvin Tyler ripped off a 22-yard run and then Brandon Bowling caught several passes on the way to help get the offense inside Wyoming’s 10-yard line. Bonner then threw a 10-yard TD pass to Brandon Bowling to notch the score up at 7-7.

In what would prove to be an omen for the misery ahead for USU, Cameron Stone took a kickoff return 98 yards for a TD. He largely went untouched and USU would be forced to play catch-up the rest of the night.

USU did manage to strike back quickly, though. On the next drive, Elelyon Noa had a couple of big runs to help set the Aggies up in Wyoming territory again. Bonner then underthrew his next ball, but Deven Thompkins still managed to catch for a 41-yard TD grab. It appeared the crowd was in for a shootout game for the right to take home the rifle trophy.

Second Quarter

There were less fireworks in this quarter, but some keys plays would prove to be decisive later as the game wore on.

Wyoming would initially punt the ball on a failed drive, and USU was making hay with a solid Justin McGriff reception to get past midfield. However, Elelyon Noa took a hit on his run and fumbled the ball, giving Wyoming another scoring opportunity.

They got into the redzone and Williams appeared poised to throw a TD pass. However, Shaq Bond was in the right place and managed to snag the pass for an interception at the 2-yard line. It wasn’t pretty, yet it kept points off the board.

Unfortunately, USU quickly went three and out and found themselves in virtually the same position they were in earlier. Wyoming drove the ball with ease and scored again from Williams to WR Joshua Cobbs for a 17 yard-TD catch.

Aggies had to punt again after another lackluster offensive series. Wyoming again exerted their will over an undersized D-line and only ended up settling for a field goal due to RB Titus Swen tripping on the turf. Wyoming’s receivers were feasting on the Aggie secondary and Xazavian Valladay was getting big runs in himself for the Pokes.

USU was able to mount an alright drive with the help of Brandon Bowling and Deven Thompkins. Both caught several important balls and Calvin Tyler got the Aggies close enough for Connor Coles to boot a 36-yard field goal. Down 24-17 at the half, it was a territory that was familiar to USU, so it didn’t feel out of hand.

Wyoming would have other plans when the teams came back out of the half.

Third Quarter

Utah State received the kickoff to start. They were able to quickly drive down to Wyoming’s 25-yard line with a huge Calvin Tyler run of 34 yards. After failing to convert the third down, USU lined up for another field goal attempt, but the holder was unable to corral a wayward ball and Wyoming’s defender jumped on it for a 19-yard gain.

In two short plays, Xazavian Valladay and Titus Swen punished the Aggie defense with tough runs for a fast TD. The game was about to get out of hand and USU was largely powerless to stop it.

USU went three and out for the seemingly thousandth time and Wyoming chipped away yet again. The Pokes ate up over five minutes of clock and settled for a 24-yard field goal, but it was obvious the Aggies were unable to stop the Cowboys from doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted to. Their running back duo was feasting on what was recently a strong Aggie run defense and reminding us just how bad this part of the defense was earlier in the season.

USU started taking risks and their efforts were essentially for naught. Bonner threw into double coverage, but it was flagged for pass interference on Wyoming. Bonner then ran for his life to gain 21 yards and inspire some hope, but he next took a huge sack and came up limping a bit. The Aggies would have to punt again and any hope of a comeback win would hinge on the next series.

The Aggies downed their punt at the 2-yard line. They initially tackled Titus Swen for a 1-yard loss, but then Swen shook that off for a 99-yard scamper completely untouched for a TD. This was the backbreaker, no doubt.

Fourth Quarter

There was very little worth mentioning in this quarter. The game was completely over for USU and Wyoming was merely there as a formality until the clock struck 0:00.

USU tried to mount a drive, but they ended up turning the ball over on downs after gaining only 22 yards. Wyoming then went conservative in their play-calling and settled for another field goal attempt to bolster their margin. John Hoyland booted it for 34 yards, along with any Aggie dreams of outright clinching a division title by their own hand.

Bonner stayed in the game for far too long and took too many hits. He didn’t look physically right, so Andrew Peasley then came in to relieve him. Peasley was able to avoid a sack on a pride drive, but he threw the ball deep and got intercepted by a Wyoming defender. The Pokes then simply ran out the clock and then ran to the rifle they hadn’t won since 2017.

Final Thoughts

This was the worst game of the season for USU, by far. It’s even worse because it came on the heels of their arguably best effort of the season against SJSU. This group of seniors deserved better, but critical special teams mistakes and horrible run defense made this win impossible to obtain. Wyoming romped for 602 yards of total offense and it felt like more.

The only silver lining is that the division hopes are still alive. USU has to go on the road one more time to defeat a lackluster New Mexico team, but they now have to rely on San Diego State to beat Boise State in the conference game of the year. If the Aztecs manage to knock off a surging Boise team, it means USU will then be next in line to almost assuredly get beat by them.

USU had a charmed season. But the good fortune ran out and the lack of depth in the trenches showed up in the worst way against a highly motivated Cowboy squad. It’s nevertheless amazing USU can still get to 10 wins on the year if they regroup next week. To win these bruising battles in the future and play like a true champion, they need more depth on the lines.

As it stands, if USU is still going to have a shot at the title, they’re going to back their way into that game since they didn’t earn the right themselves.

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