Utah State Hangs On Against Hawai’i, Sit One Win Of Bowl Eligibility

Nov 13, 2022, 2:04 AM | Updated: 2:27 am


Utah State safety Hunter Reynolds (Courtesy of Utah State Athletics)

(Courtesy of Utah State Athletics)

LOGAN, Utah –Β It won’t win any awards for esthetics, but Utah State’s win at Hawai’i may have been their most important game of the season as they fight for bowl eligibility.

Utah State (5-5, 4-2) held on to survive a furious rally, beating the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (2-9, 1-5)

“I thought we played really well,” head coach Blake Anderson said of the at-times sloppy victory. “I will never ever take a win for granted, especially on the road.”

Entering the game, the Aggies needed two wins in their final three games. Following Hawai’i, USU returns home to face a San Jose State (6-3, 4-2) team that was blown out over the weekend at San Diego State. Utah State then closes their season on the road against perennial Mountain West juggernaut Boise State. The Broncos (7-3, 6-0) currently lead the Mountain Division.

Not an easy way to close the season to be certain, but for the Aggies to have any chance at six wins and a bowl game, they couldn’t afford a slip up against an undermanned but well prepared Hawai’i team.

Cooper Legas’ Career Day

An offense that has struggled to consistently find running backs and tight ends in the passing game may have unlocked something in the win.

Junior quarterback Cooper Legas finished 16-of-25 for a career high 238 yards through the air and three touchdowns.

Beyond the numbers, it was who and how Cooper Legas and his targets were able to find space in the Hawai’i secondary.

Legas opened the scoring when he hit tight end Josh Sterzer for the Aggies longest scoring completion of the season, a 68-yard strike that found Sterzer WIDE OPEN.

It was the first touchdown of the season for a Utah State tight end.

Early in the second period, after one of the Aggies few sustained drives, Legas again found one of his tight ends in the end zone. This time it was Broc Lane creating separation from a defender the create a throwing lane for the 16-yard touchdown pass.

Legas went on to complete seven of his 16 passes to running backs or tight ends.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Legas enjoyed a career-high passing yardage day while completing 64 percent of his passes, a significant improvement over hiss 60 percent completion rate entering the game.

Calvin Tyler Jr. added his second receiving touchdown of the year, a 35-yard fourth down conversion late in the second quarter.

Defense Holds On Late

Utah State forced a season-high four turnovers with three interceptions and a forced fumble following a muffed punt.

“The turnovers created by the defense were awesome,” Anderson said postgame.

Notably, the safety tandem of Hunter Reynolds and Ike Larsen has made big play after big play, all season long. Saturday night on the islands was no different for the dynamic duo.

Reynolds led the defense with nine total tackles. He also added an interception, a tackle for a loss and broke up a pass; all while serving as the emotional and experience leader on the back end of the Aggie defense.

β€œHe is like having a coach on the field. To me, he has maximized his career, and he is getting looks at the next level and I think he gets them because he is so efficient and smart,” Anderson said.

But it was Ike Larsen who ended up making some of the most important plays of the night for coordinator Ephraim Banda’s defense.

With 5:30 left in the first half, Larsen intercepted his first pass of the night and putting his offense in a position to improve upon their seven point lead.

Later in the game, with the Aggie offense unable to move the ball against the Rainbow Warriors defense and the team clinging to a 10 point lead, Larsen sealed the Utah State victory when he stepped in front of a Brayden Schrager pass for his second interception of the night.

The redshirt-freshman out of Sky View High School in Cache Valley would sprint 36-yards, untouched for a back-breaking defensive touchdown, giving his team a 41-24 lead.

It was the second defensive touchdown in as many games for Utah State.

Larsen also had a career-high 2.0 tackles for loss to go along with a career-high-tying 1.0 sacks to give him 2.0 sacks and 3.0 TFLs on the season.

Up Next

Utah State (5-5, 4-2) return home where they will host the San Jose State Spartans (6-3, 4-2) at Maverik Stadium. Kickoff for this game is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. (MDT).

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

Coverage of Utah State University Athletics from KSL Sports can be found here.Β 

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Utah State Hangs On Against Hawai’i, Sit One Win Of Bowl Eligibility