CHANDLER HOLT

Utah State Aggie Football’s Top Plays From 2023 Season

Dec 23, 2023, 5:42 PM

utah state jalen royals top plays...

Utah State junior wide receiver Jalen Royals rises above the defense to make a catch against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Maverik Stadium on Friday, October 13. (Photo courtesy of Wade Denniston and Utah State Athletics)

(Photo courtesy of Wade Denniston and Utah State Athletics)

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State Football exceeded expectations in 2023 and posted some great highlights along the way.

Here are the Aggies’ top plays of the season.

USU was picked to finish eighth in the Mountain West preseason poll.

RELATED: Utah State Aggies Fall In Mountain West Preseason Poll

The Aggies were able to finish seventh with a record of 6-6.

Non-Conference Play

Utah State opened the season with a 24-14 loss to the No. 25 Iowa Hawkeyes. Safety Ike Larsen got his hands on a punt in the second quarter to give the Aggies better starting field position.

Utah State followed the loss with a dominant 50-point win over the Idaho State Bengals.

Naturally, when you put up 78 points, you’re going to have a lot of highlights.

The first one came less than 30 seconds into the game when running back Robert Briggs took a handoff 58 yards to the house.

In the second quarter, Utah State had another long touchdown run. This time, Davon Booth took it in for the Aggies.

Booth broke multiple tackles on his way to the end zone to give USU a 21-7 lead.

Rahsul Faison got in on the fun with a long touchdown of his own.

Faison put the Bengals’ defense in a spin cycle on the way to six more first-half points for the Aggies.

The highlights started on the opening drive and didn’t stop until the final minute.

Jaiden Francois intercepted the Idaho State QB and took it 75 yards for a pick-six.

In game four, the Aggies lost a heartbreaker after going down big in the first half.

Utah State ran a trick play to get on the board and stop the bleeding in the second quarter.

The highlights didn’t stop there.

USU continued to chip away at the lead with big scoring plays.

Colby Bowman caught a deep ball from McCae Hillstead to make the score 31-14.

After two more scores made it a one-possession game, Utah State tied it up with another long passing TD.

This time it was Micah Davis on the receiving end.

Hillstead finished with 399 yards and four passing touchdowns against the Dukes.

The Aggies were put in a similar situation against UConn the following week.

An early deficit forced USU to take deep shots in hopes of a comeback.

It worked in Utah State’s favor against the Huskies.

After tying the game at 17, QB Cooper Legas found Jalen Royals for a 71-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

Royals was determined to help the Aggies pick up their second win.

UConn tied the game at 24 with a touchdown of their own but Utah State didn’t let that stand for long.

Royals finished with seven receptions for 185 yards and three touchdowns.

With less than a minute left, Ike Larsen blocked an extra-point attempt to seal the game.

Conference Play

In a 39-21 loss to Air Force, all three scores were passing touchdowns thrown by McCae Hillstead.

Utah State carried momentum from their win over UConn into its next game against Colorado State.

After going down 17-0, USU fought back to tie the game in the second quarter.

It was the year of long passing touchdowns for Utah State.

Terrell Vaughn and Jalen Royals both caught a 50+ yard touchdown in the third quarter to put USU up 31-17.

Utah State put the nail in the coffin in the fourth quarter with a 48-yard touchdown run from Davon Booth.

The touchdown capped off a 44-7 scoring run for the Aggies.

Against Fresno State, Jalen Royals continued his impressive season with 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Royals showed that even if you play great defense, he can rise over the top and come down with six.

Not only that, you have to go in for a secure tackle against the Utah State WR or he will break away and find the end zone.

Royals tied the game at 14 in the second quarter after fighting through a couple of Bulldog defenders.

USU continued to fight in the second half but ultimately fell short and lost, 37-32.

Against SDSU in week nine, Legas found Royals in the third quarter to give Utah State their first lead of the game.

The game against the Aztecs went into double overtime where USU pulled out a 32-24 win.

Against Nevada, defensive tackle Seni Tuiaki intercepted QB AJ Bianco and rumbled in for the touchdown.

Two fourth-quarter Nevada touchdowns weren’t enough to complete the comeback as USU picked up its fifth win over the Wolf Pack.

The next week wasn’t pretty for Utah State.

The Aggies got on the board first against Boise State but ultimately ended up losing, 45-10.

Utah State closed out the regular season with a double-overtime win over the New Mexico Lobos.

Jalen Royals caught two touchdowns in the first quarter to put USU up 14-7.

In overtime, QB Levi Williams ran in back-to-back touchdowns to pick up the 44-41 win.

After going 6-6, Utah State became bowl eligible.

They drew the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl where they met the Georgia State Panthers.

Although the Aggies fell to the Panthers in a blowout, there were some notable highlights in the game.

Jalen Royals set the Utah State single-season receiving touchdown record with a TD in the first quarter.

Utah State had another record broken against Georgia State when Davon Booth took a handoff 65 yards to the end zone.

The score was the longest rushing score in a bowl game in program history.

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Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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Utah State Aggie Football’s Top Plays From 2023 Season