Sep 7, 2013
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Paced by a career day from junior quarterback Chuckie Keeton, Utah State football flew past Air Force, 52-20, Saturday afternoon at Falcon Stadium in the Aggies' Mountain West Conference debut.
The win was also the first for USU head coach Matt Wells, who is in his first season at the helm of the Aggie program.
USU evens its record at 1-1 with the win, improving to 29-25-3 all-time in conference openers. AFA is also 1-1 on the season.
Keeton tied his own school record with five TD passes, as well as posting a new career-high with 32 completions on a 32-of-40 passing effort for 360 yards, getting intercepted once. The junior signal-caller also rushed for 77 yards on eight carries, going over 1,000 yards for his career, becoming the 25th player in school history and the second quarterback to do so, joining Diondre Borel. Keeton had 437 yards of total offense on the day to move into fourth-place on USU's career total offense list, now with 6,321 yards.
The QB's efforts led USU's offense that amassed 577 total yards, with 360 through the air and 217 on the ground. It was the Aggies' sixth game in the last eight outings with over 500 yards of total offense.
Senior wide receiver Travis Van Leeuwen led 10 different Aggie players with a reception, snaring a career-high six catches for 70 yards with one TD. Sophomore wide receiver Brandon Swindall had a career-best five receptions for a career-high 63 receiving yards. The five TD catches were all caught by different receivers, including two with their first career TD receptions in junior wide receiver Ronald Butler and junior tight end Keegan Andersen.
The Aggies were 11-of-15 on third-down conversions, punting just twice in the game, while the USU defense held the Falcons to 2-of-15 on third-downs, forcing six punts.
Air Force was led by Jaleel Awini with 48 yards rushing and 61 yards passing, but was just 4-of-12 passing. Ty Macarthur caught three passes for 49 yards.
Senior linebacker Jake Doughty spearheaded an Aggie defense that limited Air Force to 270 yards of total offense, posting 11 stops on the game, logging double-digit tackles for the second-straight game and sixth of his career.
That fumble came on AFA's ensuing possession after USU took the opening kickoff and marched down the field with Keeton hitting Van Leeuwen for a 30-yard scoring play. After taking over at the AFA 35 following the fumble, junior running back Joe Hill darted in from 1-yard out and junior placekicker Nick Diaz drilled the PAT for a 14-0 Aggie advantage with less than four minute run off the game clock.
Air Force registered the next two scores, getting 33 and 34-yard field goals from Will Conanat to close to 14-6 at the end of the first quarter. USU opened the second stanza scoring with a 2-yard TD run by senior running back Joey DeMartino for a 21-6 lead. AFA countered with a 3-yard run by Awini with 3:20 left in the half to close to 21-13. Diaz capped a short, quick USU drive with a 41-yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining, sending USU into halftime with a 24-13 lead.
The Aggies erupted out of halftime, as USU scored 21 points in the third quarter as part of its 31 unanswered points, started by getting a 23-yard strike from Keeton to Butler, making a memorable first USU career catch for Butler with it being a TD. On USU's next drive, Keeton hit Hill for a 20-yard TD and then Keeton connected with senior wide receiver Travis Reynolds for a 36-yard catch, run and score.
Keeton capped the Aggies' scoring with a 1-yard toss to Andersen with 11:53 to go in the game, before Air Force scored on a 37-yard TD pass from Karson Roberts to Jalen Robinette with 8:04 left for the final scoring of the game and USU cruised to its first-ever MW win.
The Aggies host in-state foe Weber State in USU's home-opener on Saturday, Sept. 14 in a 6 p.m. (MT) kickoff at Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium in Utah State's annual Homecoming game. In addition to Homecoming, it is also the Aggies' Hall of Fame game, honoring its 2013 induction class.
For Aggie football ticket information, fans can contact the USU Athletics Ticket Office over the phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or 435-797-0305 during regular hours of operation. Fans can also buy their tickets in person at the USU Ticket Office inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or online by clicking on the "Buy Tickets" tab at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on facebook at Utah State Football, as well as on instagram at instagram.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at Utah State University Athletics.
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