Aggies Force Three Turnovers In Comeback Win Over UConn

Aug 27, 2022, 6:18 PM | Updated: 6:33 pm
Logan Bonner - Utah State Aggies...
Logan Bonner #1 of the Utah State Aggies throws a pass against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks during their game at Maverick Stadium on September 10, 2021 in Logan, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

LOGAN, UT – Utah State won their 13th straight non-conference home game with season opening, come from behind 31-20 win over the Connecticut Huskies.

The Aggies hosted UConn at Maverik Stadium in Logan, UT in the 2022 season opener for both teams.

Utah State’s defense got off to a slow start, being gashed by Husky running back Nate Carter. Carter had 52-yard and 13-yard carries on the opening touchdown drive. He would go on to have seven rushes of 10+ yards while finishing with a career-high 190 yards.

Following a second UConn touchdown, USU’s offensive and defensive units seemed to find a groove as the Huskies were forced to punt on their final four possessions in the first half. The Aggies scored 24 unanswered points during that span.

After looking like a potential juggernaut to close the first half, the Aggies fell flat in the third quarter and early fourth.

Both teams traded punts throughout the third quarter with neither getting on the scoreboard. UConn added field goals on back-to-back fourth quarter drives but wouldn’t get closer than 24-20.

Graduate senior QB Logan Bonner’s third TD late in the game put the contest out of reach for the Huskies. Aggie defensive back Ike Larsen sealed the win with a late interception.

“It’s a win. That’s the best thing I can say. Definitely not a polished win by any means. We have a lot of things to work on. We found a way to start from behind yet again,” head coach Blake Anderson said following the win. “I am proud that the guys didn’t panic.”

First Half

An ugly first quarter saw the Aggies fall behind 14-0. After the slow start, it was all Utah State in the second quarter as USU piled up 24 unanswered points to take a 24-14 advantage into halftime.

The Aggie rushing defense didn’t have any answers for UConn’s running game as the Huskies piled up 170 rushing yards compared to just 57 yards through the air. 2022 Doak Walker Award nominee Nate Carter finished the half with a career-high 147 rushing yards.

The Aggie defense forced a pair of first quarter turnovers, allowing them to stay close while the offense found a rhythm.

Safety Hunter Reynolds picked off Zion Turner’s first pass of the season after starter Ta’Quan Roberson left with an apparent right knee injury. Utah State would go three-and-out on the ensuing drive.

Following an Aggie punt, UConn used a 44-yard rush from Nate Carter and a 23-yard run from Cale Millen as the big plays on their second touchdown drive of the game to take a 14-0 lead.

On UConn’s first possession of the second quarter, Aggie defensive back Ajani Carter stripped Nate Carter and Daniel Grzesiak fell on the loose ball. The fumble recovery led to a Logan Bonner to Kyle Van Leeuwen 11-yard touchdown later in the drive.

Carter said he won’t hesitate to go for the strip in the future, “We emphasize on tackling. We want to get them on the ground first, but if I have the chance to get the ball out, I’m going to try and get the ball out and be play changer. Give the offense a chance to go and score again.”

With points on the board, the Aggie defense started to buckle down, allowing just two Husky first downs the rest of the half.

Bonner and the Aggies offense started moving the ball freely as they took over possession with just over six minutes left.

Robert Briggs added a 23-yard rushing touchdown with 3:42 left to tie it up. Briggs accounted for 45 yards on the drive as he also caught a 16-yard pass from Bonner.

After a UConn four-and-out, the Aggies used four plays to score their third straight touchdown. This time it was a 14-yard Logan Bonner connection with Justin McGriff in the back corner of the end zone.

Connor Coles added a 47-yard field goal just before the end of the half to give Utah State a 24-14 lead.

Second Half

The teams traded punts in the third quarter as both defenses took control.

UConn gained just 87 yards on 19 third quarter plays while the Aggies were limited to 61 yards on only 12 offensive plays.

Two Connecticut fourth quarter field goals cut the Aggie lead to 24-20 early in the fourth quarter.

The Aggie offense took over with 10:09 on the clock and were scuffling. Struggling to create anything through the air and the running game stuck in the mud, the Aggies needed a boost.

That boost came in the form of a pass interference call that turned a would-be fourth down into a first down for the Aggies.

On 3rd-and-12 and the Aggies in front 24-20, a Bonner pass fell incomplete at the feet of Kyle Van Leeuwen and UConn defensive back Kaleb Anthony. Anthony was flagged for pass interference, giving USU a first down and 15 free yards.

Five plays later, the Aggies were celebrating in the back of the end zone after Bonner connected with former Maryland wide receiver Brian Cobbs for his first touchdown as an Aggie.

With the Aggies in front 31-20, former Sky View Bobcat and redshirt freshman Ike Larsen intercepted Zion Turner to put the Utah State win on ice. It was the third turnover of the afternoon forced by the Aggie defense.

Bonner finished with 281 yards on 20-for-29 passing with three touchdowns.

Cobbs caught seven passes in his first game in Logan. He finished with a team high 78 yards and the touchdown. Van Leeuwen added three catches for 54 yards with Justin McGriff logging three catches for 53 yards.

On the ground, Calvin Tyler Jr. racked up the carries and yards late as he finished with 33 carries for 161 yards. Briggs scored the Aggies only rushing touchdown of the afternoon, finishing with 85 yards on 10 carries.

Tyler didn’t realize how man carries he had until looking at the box score. “I didn’t know I had 30 carries until after the game. It felt good, but I was a little winded coming into the fourth quarter, but I’m ready to get back to practice and get back in shape.”

After losing their starting quarterback early, UConn only threw 119 yards. In spite of the passing game futility, the Huskies gained 245 yards rushing as a team as Nathan Carter had a career day with 190 yards on the ground.

MJ Tafisi led the Aggies defense with 10 tackles and two tackles for a loss. Three players each finished with seven tackles. USU did not log a sack in the game but finished with 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Up Next

The Aggies turn their attention to perennial powerhouse Alabama. Utah State travels to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where they will face the preseason No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide in their season opener.

Every Utah State football game can be heard on the KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard and former Aggie quarterback Kevin White on the call.

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