Huge First Half Gives Utah State First Victory of 2023 Season

Sep 9, 2023, 9:13 PM | Updated: Sep 11, 2023, 1:40 pm

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State scored a program-record 44 points in the second quarter on their way to a 78-28 win over Idaho State.

Utah State played in front of its home crowd for the first time in 2023, hosting the Big Sky’s Idaho State Bengals on Saturday, September 9.

44 second-quarter points put the game out of reach and allowed Blake Anderson’s team to get much-needed reps for the backups.

Cooper Legas completed 14-of-16 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns before giving way to Levi Williams in the second half. Williams finished 5-of-7 for 68 yards and the first two touchdowns of his Aggie career.

Terrell Vaughn led all wide receivers with 11 catches for 73 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Vaughn is the first Aggie with double-digit receptions in back-to-back games since Kevin Curtis in 2001.

The rushing attack was the story of the game as Robert Briggs, Rahsul Faison, and Davon Booth combined for 284 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Each back had a run of at least 40 yards in the game.

Defensively, Anthony Switzer set a career-high with 10 tackles. Jaiden Francois’ pick-six was the first touchdown of his USU career. Cole Joyce and Paul Fitzgerald each had a sack while the Aggies finished with four tackles for a loss as a team.

78 points is the fourth most scored in program history and the highest-scoring single-game since 1919.

First Quarter

Idaho State’s opening kickoff sailed out of bounds, giving USU the ball at their own 35-yard line.

Following a short completion to Terrell Vaughn, Robert Briggs took the handoff on the Aggies second play from scrimmage and burst threw the line untouched for a 58-yard touchdown.

RELATED: Robert Briggs Gives Utah State Early Lead Against Bengals

The Bengals answered with a 75-yard drive, finding the end zone when Jordan Cooke found Christian Fredrickson for a nine-yard score. Idaho State needed just 3:43 of game time to drive down the field and score.

After punts from both teams, Legas found Vaughn down the Bengal sideline for a 21-yard gain. Two plays later, Davon Booth broke loose for 31 yards to give Utah State first-and-goal from the eight-yard line.

Legas completed all seven of his passes for 58 yards in the quarter. Vaughn caught six balls for 50 yards and Briggs led the Aggie ground game with 66 yards and a touchdown on four carries. Harassed in the backfield all quarter, Legas also ran for 18 yards on six carries.

Second Quarter

On the first play of the quarter, Booth fought through traffic around the right side before diving at the pylon for the Aggies second touchdown of the night.

Minutes later, Booth’s second touchdown of the game opened the floodgates for USU.

After Legas found Vaughn in the back of the end zone for his tenth catch of the night, Ike Larsen returned an interception for a touchdown. Utah State’s first forced turnover of the season gave the Aggies 20 points in 71 seconds of game time.

RELATED: Utah State Scores Program Record 44 Second Quarter Points

Larsen’s return gave USU a 34-7 lead.

Not done yet, Legas would hit Jalen Royals for his first touchdown as an Aggie following a fumble recovery by Cian Slone.

Following an Idaho State three-and-out, Rahsul Faison got in on the fun, rushing 60 yards for USU’s fourth touchdown on the ground.

RELATED: Utah State Scores 20 Points In 71 Seconds Against Idaho State

The 51 points scored in the first half are the second most scored in the half. The Aggies put 52 points up against New Mexico in 2018.

Utah State led 51-14 after two quarters of play.

Third Quarter

After the Aggie defense forced a punt on the Bengals first drive of the second half, Levi Williams took over at quarterback for the Aggies.

Williams immediately drove the Aggies down the field, gaining 30 yards on the ground before finding Vaughn in the end zone for a wide-open touchdown.

RELATED: Levi Williams Finds Vaughn For First Touchdown Pass As An Aggie

The score gave USU a 58-14 lead.

On their next drive, Utah State was forced to punt but a career-high 69-yard boot from punter Stephen Kotsanlee pinned Idaho State inside their own ten-yard line to begin the drive.

Off-setting penalties on an ISU first-down completion forced the Bengals to punt from deep in their own end.

After the punt, USU took over on the Idaho State end of the field. On 2nd-&-11, Williams scrambled before launching a bomb down the sideline to Micah Davis for his first touchdown as an Aggie.

The ninth Utah State touchdown of the game gave the Aggies a 65-14 lead. 65 points is the seventh most in program history.

Idaho State found the end zone on the final play of the period as Hunter Hays found Michael Shulikov in the back of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass.

Utah State led 65-21 after three quarters.

Fourth Quarter

Freshman quarterback McCae Hillstead entered for Williams to begin the fourth and completed his first pass as an Aggie to Kyrese Rowan for three yards. Utah State would finish the drive with a punt.

Idaho State followed with a 75-yard scoring drive to make it 65-28 USU.

Late in the quarter, senior running back Cooper Jones scored the first touchdown of his career to give Utah State a 71-28 lead.

USU added their second pick-six of the game when junior cornerback Jaiden Francois picked off a pass after it was deflected and returned it to the house. After the extra point, Utah State held a 78-28 lead.

After recovering the kickoff, USU ran out the clock for a 78-28 win.

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Utah State will open their Mountain West schedule next weekend as they will take on the Air Force Falcons in Colorado Springs, CO. Kickoff for this game is scheduled for 6 p.m. (MT). The Aggies defeated Air Force 34-27 last year at Maverik Stadium. the Falcons hold a 6-5 advantage in the all-time series.

USU football games are found on KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard and former Aggie quarterback Kevin White (1988-89) on the call.

KSL Sports coverage of Utah State University Athletics can be found here. 

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Huge First Half Gives Utah State First Victory of 2023 Season