Utah State Comeback Ends With Late Interception In Loss To Fresno State

Oct 13, 2023, 9:48 PM | Updated: Oct 14, 2023, 12:57 pm

LOGAN, Utah – A Cooper Legas interception ended Utah State’s last hope in a disappointing 37-32 setback at home against Fresno State.

Utah State (3-4, 1-2) hosted Fresno State (6-1, 2-1) at Maverik Stadium on Friday, October 13.

RELATED: Rahsul Faison Run, PAT Gives Utah State Late Lead Over Fresno State

Cooper Legas overcame occasional accuracy problems, finishing with 363 yards on 23-of-39 passing, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Legas was elusive in the pocket all night, extending plays while scrambling for 43 yards. Rahsul Faison led USU running backs with 75 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.

A week after having three 100-yard receivers in the win over Colorado State, Terrell Vaughn and Jalen Royals each surpassed the century mark. Royals led the Aggies with seven catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Vaughn finished with sevem grabs for 119 yards and his eighth TD of the year. With two scoring connections, Legas and Royals have combined for eight touchdowns in three games.

First Quarter

After trading three-and-outs to open the game, Fresno State mounted the game’s first productive offensive drive midway through the first quarter.

Starting from their two-yard line, the Bulldogs needed ten plays to reach the red zone before a two-yard plunge from Malik Sherrod gave his team a 7-0 lead with 6:19 left in the quarter.

The Aggies crossed midfield for the first time on their second drive. Robert Briggs carried four times for 25 yards before Cooper Legas finished the 75-yard drive with a 29-yard dart to Jalen Royals to even the score at seven.

Utah State didn’t trail after the first quarter for just the second time this season.

RELATED: Jalen Royals Scores Eighth Touchdown As Utah State Evens Score With Fresno State

Second Quarter

After a Fresno State punt, USU drove into Bulldog territory before a Rahsul Faison touchdown was wiped away by two personal foul penalties against the Aggies. The penalties turned a potential Utah State lead into a punt after USU came up short on third-and-42.

Fresno ended a streak of four consecutive drives ending in punts when they used a short field to find the end zone for the second time tonight. Needing 11 plays on a 45-yard scoring drive, Logan Fife found Tre Watson for a seven-yard touchdown pass that gave the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead with 2:45 left in the half.

Utah State drove into Bulldog territory but an unnecessary roughness penalty against the Aggies negated a 32-yard pass play from Legas to Briggs that would have put USU in the red zone. Despite the penalty, Legas and Royals combined for a 52-yard score, their seventh touchdown connection in the past three games.

Royals finished the half with a team-high five catches for 105 yards and two scores. Legas completed 11-of-16 passes for 162 yards with zero turnovers. USU outgained Fresno State 256 yards to 192 yards at the half.

RELATED: USU WR Jalen Royals Continues Hot Streak With Second TD Against Fresno State

Third Quarter

The Aggies began the second half with a touchback and quickly advanced into Fresno State territory. After the drive stalled, Elliott Nimrod gave USU its first lead with a 37-yard field goal to make it 17-14 Utah State with 11:37 left in the period.

USU’s lead lasted for just 1:45 as missed tackles allowed the Bulldogs to retake the lead on a 46-yard scoring romp from Sherrod, his second TD of the night. Fresno State needed just four plays to find the end zone for a third time.

Utah State advanced to the FSU 34-yard line before a fourth-and-eight pass from Legas to Faison was off target, ending the drive with 7:04 left in the quarter.

After a defensive holding penalty gave Fresno State a red zone first down, the Bulldogs used a trick play to find the end zone. Jaelen Gill took a pass in the flat from Fife and deposited a pass into the waiting arms of Tre Watson for a 19-yard touchdown.

The touchdown gave FSU a 28-17 lead late in the third quarter.

USU committed the game’s first turnover when a Legas pass intended for Jalen Royals was intercepted after Royals and Vaughn combined to tip the pass up into the air.

The Bulldog drive would end with a punt and USU taking over with 45 seconds left in the quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Legas threw his third touchdown pass of the night when he found a streaking Terrell Vaughn for a 43-yard score. It was the tenth TD pass in the past three games for Legas and Vaughn’s eighth touchdown of the year.

RELATED: Terrell Vaughn Touchdown Brings Utah State Within One Score Of Fresno State Late

Fresno State answered with a 10-play, 64-yard field goal drive that extended the lead to 31-25 with 9:50 left.

Later in the period, Faison scored his second touchdown of the season, ending a five-play, 85-yard drive with a 24-yard rushing touchdown. After the extra point, USU led 32-31 with 4:42 to play.

The Bulldogs re-took the lead with 2:19 left after a five-play, 72-yard drive that ended with Sherrod’s third rushing touchdown of the night.

The second INT from Legas ended the Aggies next drive and iced the 37-32 Fresno State win.

Following The Aggies With KSL Sports Zone

Utah State (3-4, 1-2) has eight days to prepare for a road tilt against the San Jose State Spartans (1-5, 0-2) on Saturday, October 21. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. (MT). The Aggies enter riding a ten-game winning streak against SJSU but are 20-20-1 all-time against the Spartans. USU became bowl-eligible with a come-from-behind 35-31 win over San Jose State in Logan last November.

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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Utah State Comeback Ends With Late Interception In Loss To Fresno State