Utah State football sees COVID-19 spike, cancels game against Wyoming

Utah State wide receiver Savon Scarver (11) catches a pass during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against San Diego State, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP, Pool)

Savon Scarver will have one less chance to record a national-record-tying seventh kickoff return for a touchdown. Redshirt freshman quarterback Cooper Legas will have to wait at least one more week to take the field.

Utah State canceled Thursday’s football game at Wyoming on Wednesday, citing an “upward trend of COVID-19 cases” within the Aggies program, according to a Mountain West Conference news release. The matchup, which was to be held in Laramie, Wyo., will be declared a no contest and will not be rescheduled.

Interim USU coach Frank Maile said Monday that scheduling around players who have the virus or have to be quarantined has been a challenge he’s taken “one day at a time.”

“When I wake up in the mornings after a test, I’m looking for test results and waiting for a trainer to tell me who can still play ball. And it’s kind of a new normal right now, unfortunately,” he said. “But the kids have been relentless and resilient through this process.

The Aggies were going to start Legas, an Orem High standout, at quarterback after losing the top two quarterbacks from its depth chart in the last week. Starter Jason Shelley, a junior transfer from Utah, was dismissed from the team Sunday by Maile for a rules violation. Backup Andrew Peasley sat out last week’s game against Fresno State and is one of the players who has contracted the coronavirus, Maile confirmed Monday.

Scarver, a senior, recorded his sixth kickoff return for a touchdown last week in a loss to Fresno State that dropped the Aggies to 0-4. One more will put him in a six-way tie for the NCAA record.

The Cowboys (1-2) have now had two straight games canceled by an opponent struggling with a coronavirus outbreak. Colorado State canceled last Saturday’s game against Wyoming on Nov. 8.

Already, 12 NCAA games scheduled for this week have been canceled or postponed. The Utah Utes, whose own outbreaks of COVID-19 have caused them to cancel their first two games of the season, are hoping to finally open the season Saturday against USC. Undefeated BYU, which had to cancel one game this season due to a COVID-19 outbreak, is also still on track to host North Alabama on Saturday.

Doctors recommend anyone who has contracted the virus quarantine for at least 10 days after they begin to show symptoms. An immediate 14-day quarantine is recommended for anyone in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

USU’s next scheduled game is seven days away, on Thanksgiving Day against New Mexico at Maverik Stadium in Logan. No fans except the players’s families will be allowed in the stadium, if the game is played, Aggies athletic director John Hartwell announced Wednesday. A USU press release said the “decision is based off recommendations and safety guidelines from university, local and state officials due to increased COVID-19 hospitalizations and unsustainable case rates in Utah.”

The Aggies had 5,116 fans attend their home opener against San Diego State on Oct. 31. The school did not allow fans for their home game against Fresno State.