Blocked Extra Point Allows Utah State To Survive After Second-Half Comeback

Sep 30, 2023, 1:35 PM | Updated: Oct 2, 2023, 1:46 pm

LOGAN, Utah – Ike Larsen did it again. A blocked extra point in the final minute allowed Utah State to survive another slow start and a quarterback injury to beat UConn 34-33.

USU (2-3, 0-1) came back from an early 14-point deficit to keep UConn (0-5) winless.

RELATED: McCae Hillstead Leaves Game With Injury, Cooper Legas Inserted For Utah State


Cooper Legas came on in relief of an injured McCae Hillstead and ignited a stagnant Utah State offense. Legas and Jalen Royals connected for three touchdown passes in 14:45 of game time between the third and fourth quarters. Royals finished with seven catches for 185 yards. Legas completed 11-of-13 passes for 204 yards and zero turnovers in the win.

RELATED: Son’s Death Pushes Utah State’s Blake Anderson To Face Vulnerabilities

For Larsen, it was the fifth blocked kick and first extra point block of his career. MJ Tafisi Jr. led the Aggies with 13 tackles. Anthony Switzer finished with ten stops and three tackles for a loss, including one sack.

RELATED: Cooper Legas Finds Jalen Royals For Third Touchdown Pass Of Second Half

First Quarter

Utah State won the toss and elected to kick. After picking up two first downs and looking productive, sophomore safety Devin Dye picked off Ta’Quan Roberson near midfield. It was Dye’s second INT of the year.

With Davon Booth in the backfield, UConn forced a three-and-out from the Aggie offense. Stephen Kotsanlee pinned the Huskies deep with a perfect punt that was downed at the one-yard line.

After forcing a Husky punt, freshman McCae Hillstead tried to find Micah Davis in double coverage but the pass was intercepted by Jackson Mitchell. UConn responded with the first sustained drive for either team.

Eating up 7:49 of clock, UConn needed 12 plays to drive 80 yards before 303-pound defensive tackle Jelani Stafford plowed into the end zone for a touchdown with 1:14 left in the quarter.

On the Aggies ensuing drive, Stafford pressured Hillstead, forcing a pass that bounced off of graduate junior Colby Bowman’s hands and into the waiting arms of Chris Shearin for Hillstead’s second INT of the quarter.

With UConn leading 7-0 after one quarter, Utah State has been outscored 67-7 in the first quarter of play this season.

Second Quarter

After the turnover, the Huskies scored their first second-quarter points of the season when Roberson found Nick Harris for a four-yard TD to take a 14-0 lead.

After trading possessions, USU picked up their first first down on a Hillstead scramble as they looked to right the ship after another slow start. Three plays later the drive ended on Kotsanlee’s third punt of the half.

UConn ate up another 5:27 with a drive that resulted in a 36-yard field goal.

Taking possession down 17 with 37 seconds left, Hillstead connected with a wide-open Bowman for a much-needed 63-yard touchdown to make it 17-7.

RELATED: Colby Bowman Shakes Free For 63-Yard Touchdown As Aggies Trail

Before the scoring strike, Hillstead was 3-of-7 for 12 yards and two interceptions in his second career start. Utah State has 22 yards rushing and 97 total yards at the half as they trail 17-7.

UConn possessed the ball for 24:20 in the first half.

Third Quarter

Hillstead was replaced by Cooper Legas on the Aggies first drive of the second half after taking a vicious hit. Legas showed the next man up mentality USU is looking for when he threw a 15-yard scoring pass to Jalen Royals on his second snap.

RELATED: Cooper Legas Finds Jalen Royals For TD After Hillstead Injury

Later in the period, Elliot Nimrod nailed a 37-yard field goal to tie the game at 17 with 6:56 left in the quarter.

After forcing a UConn punt, Legas and Royals connected once again for six points. This time, it was Royals taking a short screen pass and exploding through the Husky defense untouched for a 71-yard touchdown.

RELATED: Jalen Royals Takes Screen Pass 71-Yards For Utah State Touchdown

Fourth Quarter

UConn came right back with a long touchdown pass from Roberson to Geordon Porter to tie the game at 24 with 14:17 left to play.

Minutes later, Legas and Royals connected again, this time for a 52-yard catch and run that put the Aggies in front 31-24.

After the Huskies trimmed the lead to four with a field goal, Legas led Utah State on its longest possession of the day. USU went 69 yards on 12 plays before calling on Nimrod for a 24-yard field goal to make it 34-27 with 5:20 left in regulation.

UConn had one last gasp left, advancing into Aggie territory with a quick passing attack. Five completions allowed the Huskies a first-and-goal from the USU two-yard-line.

After an extended review, Stafford scored his second touchdown of the day to bring the Huskies within one point. On the extra point, USU safety Ike Larsen broke through the line to block the fifth kick of his career, preserving the 34-33 win for Utah State.

Following The Aggies With KSL Sports Zone

Utah State (2-3, 0-1) welcomes Mountain West conference foe Colorado State (2-2) to Maverik Stadium on Saturday, October 7. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (MT). USU is 37-39-2 all-time against the Rams but has won the last four matchups. The Aggies are 7-3 in the last ten games and look to move above .500 at home as they enter with a 20-20-1 record on Merlin Olsen Field.

Utah State 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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Blocked Extra Point Allows Utah State To Survive After Second-Half Comeback