Nov. 26, 2011
LOGAN, Utah - Senior WR Stanley Morrison's TD pass to junior RB Robert Turbin as time expired in the third quarter pushed the Utah State football team over Nevada 21-17 as the Aggies celebrated Senior Day Saturday at Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium by becoming bowl eligible with their sixth win of the season.
With the victory, Utah State becomes bowl eligible for the first time since the 1997 season. The Aggies also captured their fourth-straight win to improve to 6-5 this season and 4-2 in Western Athletic Conference action. This is also USU's first six-win season since 1997. It is the Aggies' first four-game win streak since 2001, when USU also won four in a row, and Utah State has won four WAC games for the first time in the Aggies' seven years in the league and was USU's first four-game conference winning streak since 2000 in the Big West Conference.
The win over the Wolf Pack was also the first for the Aggies since 1950, snapping a seven-game home losing streak to Nevada.
It was USU's eighth game this season decided by one score. The eight games is now tied with Kansas State for the most in the country, while the Aggies' 31 total point differential is the fewest in the nation, as K-State has had a total of 36 point differential in its eight games.
Nevada falls to 6-5 overall and 4-2 in WAC action. The Wolf Pack have now lost two-straight games.
USU ended with 373 total offense yards, with 199 rushing and 174 passing, while Nevada accumulated an even 500 yards with 315 passing and 185 rushing, dominated the time of possession to the tune of 34:37-25:23.
Junior RB Kerwynn Williams had 71 yards on nine carries with one TD, while Turbin had 18 rushes for 61 yards, including a 4-yard gain on a crucial 4th-and-1 from the USU 44 with 1:41 left in the game. Turbin also had two catches for 36 yards, including the game-winning 34-yard TD. Junior WR Matt Austin also had a TD catch, on a 21-yard snag in the back of the endzone.
Junior QB Adam Kennedy was 7-of-14 passing for 140 yards with one TD pass.
Nevada was led by Rishard Matthews with 12 catches for 205 yards with one TD, a 76-yard scoring play on a screen pass from Tyler Lantrip. It was Lantrip's second pass of the game after coming on in relief of injured starter Cody Fajardo. Lampford Mark added 111 yards on 22 carries with one TD, a 35-yard scamper in the second quarter.
With a game-high 15 tackles, senior LB Bobby Wagner moved up to second on the USU career tackles list with 433. Wagner is also now tied for third with San Jose State's Matt Castelo (2004-07) in career tackles in the WAC.
Fellow senior LB Kyle Gallagher added 11 tackles and junior S McKade Brady posted 10 tackles. It was the Aggie defense's second-straight game with three players posting double-digit tackles, which are the only two times this season for that to happen.
Nevada jumped out a 10-0 lead on a 19-yard field goal by Jake Hurst with 5:44 in the first quarter. Mark opened the second stanza scoring for the Wolf Pack with a 35-yard run, capping a 9-play, 95-yard drive for Nevada with a TD. Hurst's PAT made it 10-0 at the 14:16 mark of the second quarter.
USU got on the board with 2:37 remaining until half on a 10-yard option run by Williams. The 89-yard drive was boosted by a big 53-yard pass play from Kennedy to senior WR Eric Moats, which was Moats' career-long reception.
Nevada tried to take a 13-3 lead into intermission, but Hurst's 31-yard field goal attempt was wide right as time expired, leaving the halftime score remaining 10-3 in Nevada's favor. After not trailing at halftime in its first seven games of the season, USU has now trailed at the break in three of its last four, and is now 3-0 when doing so.
Utah State took its first lead of the game with 1:48 left in the third quarter when Kennedy threw a 21-yard TD pass to Austin in the back of the end zone. The pass play was the second of consecutive connections from Kennedy to Austin, as the TD toss was set up by a 40-yard pass play down the sideline.
After Fajardo got hurt on Nevada's previous possession, Lantrip came on in the Wolf Pack's ensuing possession and hit Matthews with the screen pass, that he broke through and dashed off to the endzone, quickly re-gaining the lead for Nevada.
The Aggies needed only five plays to march 77 yards, with Williams darting 25 yards for a first down, and then seven yards on the next play. USU took a timeout with two seconds left in the quarter, setting up the Morrison to Turbin pass play for the TD.
Later in the fourth, Nevada drove down to the USU 12. Facing a 4th-and-1 from the 12, Lantrip ran an option play, but was stripped by senior DE Quinn Garner and Wagner recovered at the 11, ending the Wolf Pack's drive and getting the ball back for the Aggies.
USU took over with 5:14 on the clock, and ate up the clock with 12 rushes, sparked by Turbin's fourth-down dash. After Nevada used all of its timeouts, the last coming on a 3rd-and-10 from the USU 48, Kennedy darted through a huge hole created by the offensive line for the first down. Kennedy took one knee as the clock wound down sparking the Aggies' celebration.
Utah State concludes regular-season at New Mexico State at Las Cruces, N.M. on Saturday, Dec. 3. The all-Aggie affair kicks off at 1:30 MT and will be televised on KCSG (Comcast Ch. 116/DirectTv Ch. 44/Dish Network Ch. 37).
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on the USU football blog at usufootball.wordpress.com. 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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