Logan • It almost didn’t seem to matter that one potential touchdown went awry at the end of the first half for Utah State on Saturday.
With the offense clicking behind a freshman quarterback, more chances would surely take place.
But the momentum turned on the home team in the second half, with turnovers being the key culprit, and Wyoming came away with a 28-23 Mountain West Conference victory at Maverik Stadium.
Josh Evans threw a 28-yard pass to C.J. Johnson for the Cowboys with 3:45 left in the game that gave the visitors the lead for good.
“I saw the tight end do a little hitch and I tried to look over to the quarterback,” said Utah State linebacker Suli Tamaivena. “I could see him do a pump-fake and go. I tried to catch up to him, but it was too late.”
The last best chance for Utah State (3-4, 1-2) came on the next possession. LaJuan Hunt broke off runs of 10 and 7 yards on the first two plays, but the senior back fumbled on the third play.
Wyoming (4-2, 2-0), after punting to the Aggies with a minute left, sealed the victory with a sack of USU quarterback Kent Myers in the end zone for a safety.
“Turnover margin, we said it all week, would be the difference in the ballgame,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said. “We had three picks and two fumbles. It comes down to not throwing picks and not putting the ball down on the ground.”
Utah State stayed with the plan of recent weeks by giving the ball to freshman quarterback Jordan Love, in lieu of starter Myers, at the beginning of the second quarter.
This time, Love stayed in longer than one possession as he lined up behind center for the rest of the first half. And the Aggies saw success in the period with wide receiver Aaren Vaughns, on a reverse, throwing to Braelon Roberts for a 29-yard touchdown pass and a 13-9 lead. That lead was extended with a 49-yard field goal by Domink Eberle with three seconds left in the half.
But the 16-9 advantage could have been more. Three plays before, both Ron’Quavion Tarver and Dax Raymond could have caught a Love pass in the end zone — but the Aggies receivers knocked the ball away from each other.
“You’d like to score right there before halftime,” Wells said. “Eberle had a long field goal, but we had a penalty and a couple of drops, so that was frustrating.”
Love’s time on the field came after he threw a pair of interceptions — the first returned for a 28-yard touchdown by Wyoming’s Kevin Prosser with 8:46 left in the third. That tied the game at 16, but Utah State got back the lead on a fake field goal in the fourth when holder D.J. Nelson took the ball in from the 4.
“This one hurts, but you’ve just got to move on to next week,” Nelson said. “In sports psychology, there’s a 30-minute rule. You can dwell on it for 30 minutes, but then you’ve got to let it go because you can’t change the past.”