Utah State kicks off the Blake Anderson era with a comeback win over Washington State

Junior quarterback Logan Bonner finds Deven Thompkins for the game-winning touchdown with 15 seconds on the clock

(Young Kwak | AP) Utah State running back Calvin Tyler Jr., right, carries the ball while pressured by Washington State defensive back Tanner Moku, obscured, during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Pullman, Wash.

The Blake Anderson era begins with a bang.

Utah State quarterback Logan Bonner threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Deven Thompkins with 11 seconds left to lift the Aggies to a 26-23 victory over Washington State on Saturday night.

The win was Utah State’s first under Anderson, the school’s new head coach, and the Aggies’ first road win over a Power 5 team since 1971.

“Food is going to taste better. Beds are gonna be softer,” Anderson said after becoming the first Utah State coach in more than 40 years to win his opening game. “This is a memory I’ll never forget.”

“I’m not surprised at all,” Anderson said of the upset win.

“We did not play our best football,” he said. “All in all we made the plays we absolutely had to make.”

Utah State (1-0) got the ball back on its own 22 with 3:02 left and Bonner drove them to the winning score. Bonner completed a pass to Derek Wright for a two-point conversion and the final score.

Bonner shared snaps at quarterback with junior Andrew Peasley on Thursday night after a tight battle in fall camp. But the transfer, who followed Anderson to Logan from Arkansas State, was the man with the ball in his hands when it counted late. Bonner was 17-for-24 for 149 yards, a touchdown and an interception on the night.

Anderson said the outcome did not settle the battle over who should be the team’s starting quarterback.

“Both did some really, really good things. Both did some dumb things,” he said of Bonner and Andrew Peasley “We’re not going to jump to conclusions.”

But with the game on the line, he turned to Bonner, who followed the coach to Utah State from Arkansas State.

“He has been in this situation a lot more than Peasley has,” Anderson said.

Peasley connected with Thompkins on a 45-yard pass to the WSU 1 in the first quarter. But the drive was stalled by three false start penalties and the Aggies had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Connor Coles and a 3-0 lead. Peasley finished the game with 76 yards on 6-of-12 passing.

Thompkins finished with eight catches for 94 yards and the game-winning score. Utah State running back Calvin Tyler Jr. rushed for 84 yards and a score on 14 attempts.

The win was Utah State’s first over a Pac-12 team since beating Utah in 2012 and marked a fresh start for a football team that went 1-5 last season, leading to the midseason firing of Gary Andersen.

(Young Kwak AP) Utah State players celebrate with fans after winning 26-23 against Washington State in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Pullman, Wash.

Max Borghi ran for 86 yards and a touchdown for Washington State (0-1) of the Pac-12, which finished 1-3 last year. Dean Janikowski’s 35-yard field goal for Washington State tied the game early in the second quarter.

Patrick Joyner sacked WSU quarterback Jarrett Guarantano in the end zone for a safety and a 5-3 lead.

Janikowski’s 31-yard field goal attempt bounced off the left upright for WSU late in the second quarter.

Derrick Langford picked off a Bonner pass late in the first half and returned it 36 yards to the Utah State 28. But three straight passes by Jayden de Laura were incomplete from the Utah State 9 and the Cougars had to settle for Janikowski’s 26-yard field goal and a 6-5 lead at halftime.

Coles kicked a 39-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half to give Utah State an 8-6 lead.

Borghi scored the first touchdown of the game on a 64-yard run down the left sideline with 10:47 left in the third, giving the Cougars a 13-8 lead.

Coles replied with a 28-yard field goal for Utah State.

Donovan Ollie caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jayden de Laura with 4:01 left in the third for a 20-11 Washington State lead. Janikowski added a 27-yard field goal early in the fourth for the Cougars.

Tyler Jr. plowed over from the 2-yard line for Utah State’s first touchdown with 5:16 left in the game, cutting Washington State’s lead to 23-18. That set up Utah State’s winning touchdown drive.


Utah State hosts North Dakota next Saturday

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