Utah State Hopes To Build On Complete Game Effort In Fresno State Loss

Oct 14, 2023, 4:07 PM | Updated: 4:08 pm

LOGAN, Utah – There were no moral victories for Utah State in a 37-32 Mountain West loss against Fresno State on Friday the 13th in Maverik Stadium.

Despite not picking up the win, Utah State (3-4, 1-2) put together its best game of the season.

“Clearly disappointed with the outcome, but not disappointed in the guys at all,” USU head coach Blake Anderson said postgame.

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

“That’s the most complete game we’ve played all year against a good football team. We had opportunities to win it and didn’t. They made the plays they needed to. We missed some opportunities. Some really good opportunities to convert. Some good opportunities to get off the field defensively. They made plays they had to win and we just couldn’t deny it.”

The Aggies’ defense struggled at times, giving up three scoring drives of ten plays or longer and forcing just one three-and-out all night. Fresno State sandwiched six scoring drives around five punts, coming up empty on consecutive drives one time.

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

Despite the defense struggling to get off the field, USU never fell behind by more than 11 points. The ability of Cooper Legas to extend plays and evade the rush allowed the Aggies to battle back and take two second-half leads. Utah State’s second lead of the night came with 4:42 left when Rahsul Faison’s 24-yard rushing touchdown put his team in front 32-31.

“Proud of the fact that we played four really hard quarters in all three phases. At times, we showed what we’re capable of and hope we can find it more consistently moving forward. It’s a tough loss because we had good opportunities and we just couldn’t execute when we needed to to finish it.”

Cooper Legas To Jalen Royals Connection

Since entering for McCae Hillstead on the first drive of the second half against Air Force, Legas and Jalen Royals have been unstoppable. Legas and Royals have combined for seven touchdowns in the past three games. Five of those scores have gone for 50+ yards.

After not making a catch in limited action in 2022, Royals has been the talk of the USU offense for the past month. With multiple scores and over 100 yards receiving in each of the past three games, the junior wideout has provided a nice second option to senior Terrell Vaughn.

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

“We’re all good players,” Royals said after the loss. “Coach (Anderson) gets the ball to all of us and Coach Kyle Cefalo, he definitely pushes us during practice and all that.”

After a somewhat slow start to the season, Royals has 27 catches for 507 yards and those seven scores since facing James Madison at home. It’s safe to say, Royals’ confidence is sky-high.

“My confidence definitely has gone up. I think I’m one of the best receivers in this conference and maybe in college football. That’s probably the biggest thing right there.”

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 Hopes To Build On Complete Game Effort In Fresno State Loss