Logan • Underneath the area where the Utah Stage Aggies have their postgame press conferences, the BYU Cougars celebrated in the visiting locker room. Players could be heard singing along as “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker played loudly while the Aggies fielded questions from reporters.
BYU linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi said because of the team’s overall youth, many of the players haven’t beaten Utah State. He said the players discussed doing just that and taking back the series trophy at a recent dinner.
“To come out with the win is just awesome,” Kaufisi said. “A lot of guys are really excited about it.”
The Aggies have owned the BYU Cougars in the last two years. But third year was the charm for the Cougars on Saturday at Maverik Stadium.
The Cougars beat the Aggies 42-14, putting USU at 4-4 overall on the season and taking the wagon wheel back to Provo. USU has lost three of its past four games, while the BYU (4-4) is on a two-game winning streak after dropping three straight.
“We got some momentum going now, so I’m looking forward to building on it,” Cougars coach Kalani Sitake said.
BYU quarterback Jaren Hall threw for 214 yards on 12-of-16 passing and added 54 rushing yards. He ran in two touchdowns as well.
Jordan Love had his best performance in terms of yardage, throwing for 394 yards on 29-of-49 passes. But his two interceptions in the second quarter led directly to touchdowns for the Cougars, giving the road team some separation.
Both of Hall’s rushing touchdowns came on drives after Love’s inceptions. It was a second quarter that the Aggies would have liked to forget, save for the touchdown just before halftime that cut their deficit in half.
But once the third quarter started, the Cougars turned on the jets on offense and the cranks on defense. BYU held the Aggies scoreless while finding the end zone twice.
BYU backup quarterback Baylor Romney, who replaced Hall at halftime, finished a drive that lasted more than three minutes with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Micah Simon, giving the Cougars a 28-14 lead. Romney’s 3-yard run on BYU’s next drive, which came after its defense forced an Aggies three-and-out, increased the Cougars lead to 35-14.
“BYU outplayed us,” Aggies coach Gary Andersen said.
The Aggies had five turnovers in the game. Andersen said those and bad tackling contributed to USU’s poor second-half performance.
Romney went 10 of 16 and threw for 191 yards, including two touchdown passes. Lopini Katoa was easily BYU’s best receiver, catching just four passes for a whopping 129 yards.
Aleva Hifo opened the scoring with a 6-yard run to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead. His touchdown ended an 11-play drive for BYU, which forced the Aggies into the a 3-and-out on their opening drive and found the end zone on its first possession.
Love and wide receiver Siaosi Mariner connected with less than 20 seconds remaining in the first quarter to the tie the game. Love threw 26 yards to Mariner, who caught it in the deep right corner of the end zone.
Later, Hall ran — and jumped — for a 16-yard touchdown to give the Cougars a 14-7 lead. Moments before, Love threw an interception that put BYU inside the red zone.
Love, who completed nine of 10 passes in the first quarter, threw another interception a few minutes later, but that one wasn’t in as dangerous of territory. The Cougars capitalized anyway, with Hall throwing a 27-yard pass and rushing 1 yard and 7 yards on the next two plays for the 21-7 BYU lead.
Love also threw a third interception just before the game ended.
Gerold Bright scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to cut USU’s deficit to just seven points with 34 seconds left in the first half. Love converted two third downs — one on a pass and the other on his own run — that gave the Aggies life on the drive.
Aggies receiver Nathan Jordan collected 133 yards on seven catches, while Bright rushed for 66 yards on 12 carries.
Utah State finished the game with more plays run than BYU, but lost the time-of-possession battle. The Cougars had the ball for just over 35 minutes, while the Aggies had it for just shy of 25.
The Aggies can still become bowl eligible because they need only two more wins to reach the six required for consideration. Their next conference game is on the road next Saturday at Fresno State.