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BYU vs Utah State Recap: Cougars wrangle the Aggies in Logan for 51-28 win

The Cougars snap the Aggies 13 game home winning streak in dominant fashion.

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

First Half

Once again the BYU Cougars and Utah State Aggies played a game that involved wild plays and intense momentum swings. The Aggies started off the excitement early as they trotted out Senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton on senior day. Keeton was at risk of never beating the Cougars and relished in his final opportunity. With the Cougars kicking off to start the game, Chuckie wasted no time in driving his team 75 yards that was capped off by his own 52 yard rushing touchdown to take the 7-0 lead. BYU didn't want to let the Aggies one-up them so they came out firing and found themselves on the eight yard line after a sensational catch by Mitch Mathews from Tanner Mangum. The catch required a review in order to overturn the incomplete call but Mathews was able to catch the ball with a foot inbounds. On the next play Algernon Brown went up the middle for an eight yard touchdown to tie the game.

The Cougars would hold the Aggies on the next drive to force them into a 49 yard field goal that was then blocked by Bronson Kaufusi. BYU would drive into the red zone before penalties and missed opportunities forced a 41 yard field goal by Trevor Sampson, and a 10-7 lead for the Cougars. Just before the end of the quarter the Cougars popped up their kick-off that was caught at the USU 45 for great field position for the Aggies.

The second quarter didn't start out well for the Aggies as they continued to drive through missed tackles and bad angles. However, they had their own share of dropped passes and their drive stalled in the red zone. With Kaufusi possibly still in his head the Aggies kicker missed from 32 out as it hit the post. BYU took over and dropped their own passes before providing the first punt of the game. Once again starting with good field position the Aggies stalled in Cougar territory and lined up for another 49 yard field goal. With the fake called the back up quarterback, DJ Nelson, executed the fake kick to perfection and gained 16 yards. The Aggies would capitalize on the extra plays and drove in for a six yard touchdown rush by LaJuan Hunt for a 14-10 lead. The Cougars would once again go three and out which set up another drive by the Aggies as Keeton found Hunter Sharp for a 25 yard touchdown and a 21-10 lead. The Cougars had a chance to use the clock and score before the half but three straight incompletions gave USU the ball back with 1:02. It appeared that the drive would start around their own 15 but a Kick Catch Interference was called after Michael Davis was blocked into the returner, giving the Aggies the ball at the 30. After some bad clock management the Aggies had one last play to drive down field but as Keeton scrambled he fumbled the ball and Cougar defender Tomasi Laulile picked up the loose ball and took it back 39 yards for a touchdown as time expired. With the TD the Cougars took a 24-21 halftime lead.

Second Half

The Cougars would take the momentum gained at the half into their first drive of the third quarter as Riley Burt took the kickoff back to the 38 yard line. Brown would take the first play from scrimmage 19 yards to the Aggies 42 yard line and two plays later Mangum found Mathews for a 35 yard touchdown. Once again Mathews used his size as he jumped up to catch the ball higher than the defender and brought it down with ease. With the 31-21 lead the defense fed off the offense on the first Aggies drive as they forced a punt. The Cougars offense would then sputter as they went backwards due to a mishandled hand-off and an intentional grounding call forced Jonny Linehan to punt from his endzone.

After the Aggies squander good field position and punt to the seven, BYU gained a first down but a sack ended the drive. On the drive Mangum went over 3,000 yards passing for the year on a short seven yard pass to Remington Peck. After a poor punt by Linehan, and a good return by the Sharp, gave the Aggies great field position at the Cougar 31 the Aggies once again stalled inside the 20 and went for a 33 yard field goal. Once again Kaufusi used his big paw to block the kick and Micah Hannemann took it back to the Aggies 10 yard line. On the very next play Francis Bernard took the ball 10 yards to the left for a touchdown and a 38-21 lead.

After the Cougars scored 28 straight points to take the 17 point lead, the Aggies needed to do something but it would take a long field as the offense took the field at their own 14 yard line. It wouldn't stay deep for long as Keeton would find Andrew Rodriguez for a 58 yard pass. The Aggies would drive into the red zone as time expired in the 3rd quarter, down 38-21.

The Aggies started out strong in the fourth as they drew a pass interference call on Harvey Langi that gave them the ball at the two yard line. On the next play the Aggies star linebacker, Nick Vigil took the direct snap and powered in for the two yard touchdown for the Aggies first points in the second half. After the Cougars offense has sputtered to get yards on their own, the upcoming drive took on key importance as they needed to run time off the clock, flip field position, and gain back momentum. It didn't look good at they started form their own 10 after another holding penalty on the kick off, and two incompletions. On third down Devon Blackmon saved the drive as he went up between two defenders and came down with a 35 yard play. A 22 yard rush by Brown, an 11 yard rush by Langi later and the Cougars were in the red zone. A pass interference on the Aggies trying to cover Nick Kurtz once again gave the Cougars the ball inside the five and a swing pass to Bernard finished off the Cougars 90 yard drive. With the missed extra point the Cougars found their lead at 16, 44 to 28, and about 12 minutes left in the game.

Both offenses stalled on their ensuing drives but the Aggies flipped field position once again as they took over just inside Cougar territory, looking to get back into the game before time ran out. A false start didn't help  the drive but they converted two plays later. The drive killer came two plays later as BYU batted the ball high in the air and it was caught by an offensive lineman for a five yard loss. The Aggies couldn't convert on fourth down and BYU took over with seven to play.  Again the penalty bug hit just as much as the dropping the pass bug as a chop block sent the Cougars back 15 yards and then a dropped pass by Kurtz led the Cougars to run a run draw to force a USU timeout.

Missed tackles on the return gave the Aggies the ball at their own 47 with six to play. What may have been the key drive of the game for the Aggies, penalties are what stopped the drive. After a chop block and false start dropped them back to their own 20, the Aggies failed to gain a yard and gave up the ball on downs. BYU was content to run the clock as they gave the ball to Brown and Langi to run clock, and went for it on fourth and one. BYU forgot to play conservative at this point as the play action led to a wide open Brown who waltzed into the endzone from 18 yards out for the 51-28 lead. With under three minutes to go the Aggies tried to comeback but a hard hit by Preator led to a fumble that was picked up by Fred Warner that was run back to the 13. This time the Cougars were happy to end the game with a few kneel downs, giving Utah State less than 40 seconds with the ball. With the 51-28 win the Cougars once again found the 9-3 mark in the regular season, the first time since 2011.

Tanner Mangum had a nice day with 284 yards passing but the player of the game on offense goes to Mitch Mathews as he had six catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns. The defense gave up yards but when needed made the plays as they sent Keeton out with never having beat the Cougars. The Cougars will next play in their bowl game, either the Las Vegas Bowl or the Hawaii Bowl.