LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State linebacker Suli Tamaivena and boundary safety Gaje Ferguson combined for 27 tackles, and backup quarterback DJ Nelson scored the first touchdown of his career, but it still wasn’t enough in the Aggies’ 27-14 loss to Colorado State in front of 18,004 fans Saturday afternoon on Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium.
“Without looking at the tape, it’s hard to summarize today,” Ferguson said. “There were some good flashes, but there were also bad flashes. Inconsistent is the word I would use to describe today.”
Rams quarterback Nick Stevens completed 22-of-31 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns to help Colorado State (4-2, 2-0 Mountain West) remain perfect in the Mountain Division of the conference.
“First of all, congratulations to Colorado State. They’re a good team and they played well,” Utah State head coach Matt Wells said. “The middle of the first quarter to the middle of the second quarter was obviously the deciding time in the game. They played well and we did not. It boils down to us not winning the game in the trenches. I don’t think there’s a bigger story than that.”
Tamaivena, a junior, recorded a career-best 14 tackles, while Ferguson, also a junior, added a career-high 13 stops for Utah State (3-3, 1-1 MW), which had its two-game winning streak snapped.
The Rams limited the Aggies to just 212 yards of total offense. Senior quarterback Kent Myers was 17-of-29 passing for 152 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown pass to senior running back LaJuan Hunt that pulled the home team to within 27-14 with 1:37 to go in the game.
Following Hunt’s first touchdown reception since the second game of the 2015 campaign, Utah State successfully converted the ensuing on-side kick. Sophomore placekicker Dominik Eberle got the perfect bounce on his kick and Hunt recovered it.
However, Colorado State did not allow the Aggies to move the ball and Utah State turned it over on downs with 1:09 remaining.
Hunt led Utah State in rushing with 19 yards on eight carries. He matched his career high in catches with four for 30 yards. Redshirt sophomore tight end Dax Raymond was the Aggies’ top receiver on the day with a career-best six catches for 45 yards.
Colorado State scored the first 24 points of the game and it was a special teams play that finally got Utah State on the board. Nelson took matters into his own hands as he blocked a punt by the Rams’ Ryan Stonehouse, scooped it up and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, pulling the Aggies to within 24-7 with 6:08 left until halftime.
“Opportunities to make plays haven’t come around too often, so when they do it’s really fun,” Nelson said of his scoop and score. “It’s fun to hear people screaming and yelling, just like it is in any stadium. You get that rush. I’ve grown up here and been to games, suffering through games like today and enjoying games like last week. It’s just special to be a part of the program and go out there to play in front of my hometown.”
Junior punter Aaron Dalton also had a solid day on special teams for Utah State as he punted 10 times for an average of 42.9, including a long of 54 yards and three downed inside the 20-yard line.
Utah State wraps up its three-game homestand next weekend when the Aggies welcome Mountain West foe Wyoming to town on Saturday, Oct. 14. The game is slated to kick off at 2:30 p.m. and can be seen live on Facebook.
For 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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