Logan • In a way, the Utah State Aggies made some strides and improved both offensively and defensively over the course of Saturday’s game with Colorado State.
But, yes, the beginning does matter.
The Aggies lost their first Mountain West Conference game of the year, 27-14 to the visiting Rams.
Colorado State jumps out to a 24-0 lead as Rams quarterback Nick Stevens connects on his first nine passes.
• Utah State totals 46 yards of offense in the first half as the Aggies’ lone score was a returned block of a punt by D.J. Nelson.
• Dalyn Dawkins runs for 121 yards for the visiting Rams while Izzy Matthews adds 84.
Colorado State (4-2, 2-0) rolled to a 24-0 lead — a margin achieved when quarterback Nick Stevens hit Bingham High grad Dalton Fackrell with a 20-yard touchdown pass three minutes into the second quarter.
“We just didn’t play good for a decent stretch in the first half,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said. “We didn’t make it competitive early and we kind of did late, but it was just a case of too little, too late.”
Colorado State’s passing attack was extremely efficient at the start as Utah State’s defense left open receivers — and Stevens didn’t miss even when they were covered.
The Rams QB connected on his first nine passes of the game.
“We can’t dig a hole like that and expect to win ballgames,” Aggies defensive back Gaje Ferguson said.
Meanwhile, on offense, Utah State (3-3, 1-1) was in a mighty struggle through the first two quarters.
At half, the Aggies had gained a total of 7 yards passing as Kent Myers and Jordan Love connected on four of a dozen attempts.
Wells thought that the Colorado State line play was the major reason for the troubles in the throwing game.
“I think there were a handful of times we had good protection, but we couldn’t get open in the back end,” Wells said. “There’s that combination, but for the most part their D-line really got after us.”
Utah State first dented the scoreboard when D.J. Nelson broke through to block a Rams’ punt with 6:08 left in the second quarter. Nelson picked up the loose ball and ran 20 yards for the touchdown.
“We did our best to get momentum swings when we could,” Nelson said.
Stevens finished with 293 yards on 22-for-31 passing and, as Colorado State increasingly went to a run-dominated attack in the second half, Rams running back Dalyn Dawkins finished with 121 yards while bruising rusher Izzy Matthews added 84.
For Utah State, Myers finished with 152 yards through the air as the Aggies gradually found some more openings in the tight CSU defense.
With 1:37 left in the game, LaJuan Hunt collected the final score for the home team on a 22-yard pass from Myers.
“We started slow, but I thought the emotion was the same as it was the last two weeks,” said Wells, whose team had beaten San Jose State and BYU leading into Saturday’s contest
After the game, Wells indicated that the chase was still on — even though the clock had run out.
“They’re in control of their own destiny. Now you’ve got to win in case they mess up,” the USU coach said.