Oct. 7, 2006
LOGAN, Utah - Freshman quarterback Riley Nelson guided Utah State to a thrilling 13-12 come from behind victory in his first collegiate start here Saturday night. The win was USU's first this season and improved the Aggies to 1-5 overall and 1-1 in Western Athletic Conference play, while Fresno State fell to 1-4 and 1-1 in the league.
Nelson found Fresno native Kevin Robinson on a 30-yard touchdown pass with just :55 left in the game to boost the Aggies to just their second victory in their last 13 games. The Aggies drove 80 yards in 11 plays on the game-winning drive just after Fresno State extended its 9-7 lead to 12-7 with a field goal at the 3:56 mark.
Nelson, who set several national records as a prep senior last year, including accounting for 84 touchdowns last season at Logan High School, was nine of 19 passing for 120 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Nelson had played the last two series in USU's previous game against Idaho.
Nelson was six of six passing for 57 yards, while rushing three times for 34 more yards on the final drive. He had rushes of 16 and 21 yards on the final series and converted three third-down plays on the drive.
Utah State took an early 7-0 lead as Marcus Cross scored on a 54-yard reception late in the first quarter. The Aggies held Fresno State scoreless in the first half, marking the first time the opponents did not score before the break since 2003.
Fresno State evened the score at the 9:04 mark of the third quarter on a 60-yard pass to Chastin West. That was the longest pass allowed by the Aggies this season.
Fresno State took the lead on a safety when an errant Utah State punt snap sailed back 30 yards into the endzone early in the fourth quarter. Leading 9-7, the visiting Bulldogs added a 29-yard field goal with 3:56 left in the game before USU's final drive.
On the night Fresno State outgained Utah State 319 yards to 267 behind 138 rushing yards from Dwayne Wright. The Aggies countered with 93 rushing yards by Cross, as well as 76 on the ground by Nelson.
The Aggies will now play two straight road games, heading to San Jose State on Saturday, Oct. 14 and Louisiana Tech on Oct. 21.
UTAH STATE POSTGAME NOTES
vs. Fresno State, Oct. 7, 2006
o - The last time an Aggie quarterback led USU to a victory in his first Aggie start was Anthony Calvillo, who led USU to a 48-21 against New Mexico State in the fourth game of 1992. Calvillo was 18 of 29 for 207 yards in the contest.
o - The 12 points allowed by USU were the fewest allowed by the Aggies since holding Idaho to seven points in a 14-7 win in the second game of 2004.
o - Kevin Robinson, who is from Fresno, caught the game-winning touchdown pass for his first touchdown reception in his last seven games.
O - USU's 267 yards of total offense was its second best output of the year (305 last week vs. Idaho).
O - Fresno State's 60-yard touchdown pass was the longest pass play allowed by the Aggies this year (51 yards at Wyoming).
O - The safety against Utah State was the first allowed by the Aggies since last year against Fresno State.
O - Marcus Cross' 32-yard run on the Aggies' first possession was the longest rush by USU this year (Cross had a 29-yarder at BYU).
O - The last time the Aggies shutout an opponent in the first half was against Middle Tennessee (led 21-0) in the ninth game of 2003.
o - Marcus Cross' best rushing games this season before tonight - 127 at BYU, 114 at Arkansas, 68 vs. Idaho.
O - USU averaged 6.1 yards per play in the first half after entering the game averaging 3.5 yards. On the other side, the opponents averaged 6.4 yards per play coming into tonight and Fresno State averaged 4.5 in the first half.
UTAH STATE POSTGAME QUOTES
Vs. Fresno State
Oct. 7, 2006
Utah State Head Coach Brent Guy
"Winning a game and winning one in the fourth quarter against a great opponent like that is what we needed."
"I'm really proud about the way the team fought back, especially the offensive group. We got the offensive pass interference and backed it up, and we still got the ball in and took the lead."
"The defense did a good job on the last drive not letting them get in position to kick a field goal. We were concerned that the field goal could beat us and, that's why we went for two after the last touchdown."
"It's a big victory for us, but we have to build on it. We still have a lot of work to do, going on the road two weeks in a row against conference opponents. We have to learn from this experience. We can play better, execution wise."
"I thought Riley did a great job of managing the game which is what we knew he could do, and he did a great job running the ball. He showed why he was responsible for 84 touchdowns and set the national record."
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