Logan • Utah State needed only one win entering Saturday’s play to be eligible to play in a postseason contest.
And the Aggies accomplished just that by bowling over Hawaii 38-0 in a Mountain West Contest at Maverik Stadium.
Utah State (6-5, 4-3) got the critical sixth victory needed for bowl eligibility with a balanced attack offensively and a defense that kept the visiting Rainbow Warriors off the scoreboard — the team’s first shutout since 2013.
“I think that’s the first time we put a full 60 minutes together. It’s not perfect, but damn near,” said Aggies senior safety Dallin Leavitt, characterizing the defensive effort with words that could have been painted over the entire team.
“It’s really nice. We’ve doubled our win total from last year and we’re bowl eligible,” he added.
The Aggies missed a field goal to end their first possession of the day but then scored touchdowns on the next three drives and held a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. Trips into the end zone included a 60-yard run by backup running back Gerold Bright to open the scoring, a 10-yard pass from starting quarterback Jordan Love to Ron’quavion Tarver for the second TD and then a nice 49-yard touchdown strike from former starter Kent Myers to Braelon Roberts.
“It felt great for me, seeing him do that,” said running back LaJuan Hunt of Myers’ spiral down the left sideline that hit Roberts in stride. “It means the world to me.”
At the end of the half, Hawaii (3-8, 1-7) advanced to the 1 in the closing seconds before turning the ball over with :05 on the clock.
Junior safety Gaje Ferguson made the critical stop on Hawaii running back Diocemy Saint Juste with linebacker Justus Te’i falling on the loose ball.
“Gaje made a great play. Came in there and stuffed the running back and stuck his hand in there and forced the fumble,” Leavitt said.
“What a jolt of energy,” Wells said. “A huge play right on the goal line.”
After forcing a three-and-out from the visitors to start the third quarter, it took all of one play for Utah State to extend the lead to 28-0. That came on a 48-yard run by Hunt, who finished with 111 on the day.
Love threw for 113 yards as the freshman made his fourth straight start. Also rushing for 47 yards, Love made his way into the end zone on a 15-yard rush with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
Bright also accumulated 93 yards as Utah State had 311 total on the ground.
“Anytime you rush for 300 yards, it’s a good day at the office for the O-line,” said Wells, who also credited the blocking of tight ends Dax Raymond, Damian Hobbs and Carson Terrell.
In the postgame press conference, the Utah State coach was asked how emotional he was about having only a couple of weeks left with his 18 seniors.
Bearing in mind the team just reached bowl eligibility, Wells reoriented the question.
“We’ve got a few more weeks left with them,” Wells said.
• Utah State got its sixth win of the season, making the Aggies eligible for a bowl game.
• The Aggies recorded their first shutout since 2013 in coach Matt Wells’ first season.
• Offensively, Utah State rushed for 311 yards collectively with LaJuan Hunt leading the way with 111.