Aug. 30, 2007
LOGAN, Utah - In what began as a hot bed of excitement turned into cold disappointment as Utah State was defeated by visiting UNLV, 23-16, Thursday night at Romney Stadium in the Aggies' home and season opener. Frank Summers' 11-yard run with 1:02 to play and Sergio Aguayo's PAT gave UNLV its first road win dating back to 2004.
With kickoff game-time at 91 degrees, USU's hottest game since 2003, the Aggies jumped out to a 10-3 lead in their first home season-opener since 2002. Thursday was not only USU's first non-Saturday game since 2004, but the August 30 start was the Aggies' earliest season-opener since 2003 and the earliest home-opener since the year before.
Senior running back Aaron Lesue scored his first career TD as an Aggie on a two-yard plunge with 13:08 left in the second quarter and freshman kicker Chris Ulinski drilled the PAT for his first USU point.
After a 45-yard punt return by senior Kevin Robinson gave the Aggies the ball at the UNLV 21 with one second left, freshman kicker Peter Caldwell split the uprights from 38-yards out as time expired to send the Aggies into the locker room with a 10-3 lead.
UNLV tacked on a pair of Aguayo field goals from 30 and 22 yards, respectively, to pull the Rebels within, 10-9 through three quarters.
Quarterback Travis Dixon, a redshirt freshman making his Rebel debut, had a 15-yard scamper to put UNLV ahead, 16-10.
The Aggies countered with a one-yard TD dive by senior signal-caller Leon Jackson III, his first in two seasons, but Ulinski's PAT was wide right, leaving the score tied at 16-all, setting up UNLV's game winner.
USU had 234 yards (137 passing, 97 rushing) of total offense, while UNLV had 314 yards (173 rushing, 141 passing).
Freshman Curtis Marsh led USU with 50 rushing yards on 13 carries, while Lesue had 33 yards and the TD.
Jackson started the game six-of-seven passing and ended 13-of-19 for 137 yards. The USU punting duties were also handled by Jackson, who had seven punts for a 47.4 average with a long of 60.
Robinson had a team-high five receptions for 62 yards and six kick off returns for 166 yards.
Dixon led UNLV with 129 rushing yards and 141 passing yards on 12-of-20 passing.
Defensively, senior safety Antonio Taylor, who led USU in tackles last season picked up right where he left off, leading the team in tackles with 10, as well as a pass break up.
Sophomore linebacker Paul Igboeli, last season's WAC Freshman of the Year added eight stops, while junior linebacker Jake Hutton made a successful return to the Aggie lineup with six tackles, including a sack.
USU now opens a stretch of four road games in its next five contests by playing its second Mountain West Conference opponent in as many weeks when the Aggies travel to Laramie, Wyo., to tangle with Wyoming. Kickoff for next Saturday's game is set for Noon.
After playing at Oklahoma on Sept. 15, USU returns for Homecoming on Sept. 22, taking on San Jose State to open WAC play.
Football tickets are available through the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, online at www.UtahStateAggies.com and clicking on "tickets" in left column, or by calling 1-888-U-STATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
USU POST-GAME NOTES
- Temperature at kickoff was 91 - the hottest Utah State football game since it was 100 degrees when USU played at Arizona State on Sept. 13, 2003.
- Utah State scored its first offensive TD of the season in its first game... last year, the first offensive TD came in the fifth game, but both first scores of the season have been rushing TD's.
- USU has scored its first offensive TD of the season on rushes in all three of head coach Brent Guy's seasons... The Aggies scored their first TD of the year on a pass play in 2004.
- USU's 7-3 lead in the second quarter was the Aggies' first lead since 14-7 of the San Jose State game (Oct. 14, 2006), as USU trailed the entire game of its last five games of last year.
- The 10-3 halftime lead was USU's first lead at the half since the San Jose State game (Oct. 14, 2006) of that game when the Aggies led 14-7 at the half.... That was only one of USU's two leads at the half of last season.
- USU's three starting offensive linemen of Pace Jorgensen, Shawn Murphy and Ryan Tonnemacher have now started a combined 63 games at Utah State, while playing in 67... Jorgensen made his 28th career start...Tonnemacher made his 22nd career start... Murphy made his 13th career start.
- USU senior QB Leon Jackson III made his 15th career start while playing his 31st career game.
- USU senior WR Kevin Robinson made his 25th career start and played in his 35th career game.
- USU senior DT Frank Maile was playing in his 31st career game.
- Aggie senior RB Aaron Lesue scored his first USU TD on his 2-yard plunge in the second qtr.
- USU freshman K Chris Ulinski scored his first career point in an Aggie uniform with the PAT on USU's second-quarter TD.
- Kevin Robinson's 49-yard punt return was his longest since his sophomore season of 87 yards in 2005 vs. San Jose State on Oct. 8.
- USU freshman K Peter Caldwell recorded his first career Aggie points on his 38-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
- USU kicked its first field goal of the season as time expired of the first half... Last year, Utah State was the last team in the NCAA Division I to convert a field goal, when the Aggies made a 46-yarder in game nine vs. Hawai'i on Nov. 4, 2006.
- This was USU's first home opener since 2002... Thursday not only marked USU's first non-Saturday game since Nov. 11, 2004, but the Aggies' earliest season-opener since 2003.
- Leon Jackson's rushing TD was his first since his sophomore season on Oct. 15, 2005 against Fresno State.
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