USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Utah State rallied twice in the fourth quarter against Air Force. Unfortunately for the Aggies, they needed a third, but didn’t get it.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Love completed 17-of-30 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns, but the Falcons scored with 1:38 remaining in the game to pull out a wild 38-35 victory Saturday night in front of an announced crowd of 17,252 at Falcon Stadium.
With the loss, Utah State closed out the regular season with a 6-6 overall mark and 4-4 record in Mountain West play.Air Force ended at 5-7 and 4-4. The two teams finished tied for fourth in league play.
Air Force quarterback Isaiah Sanders rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries. His final TD of the night was from 10 yards out with 1:38 to go in the fourth quarter, giving the Falcons their final margin of victory.
There was still enough time on the clock for Utah State to drive down the field for a potential game-winning touchdown or game-tying field goal. The Aggies took over on their own 25 with 1:38 to go and following a 33-yard pass to senior wide receiver Braelon Roberts, they were across midfield at the Falcons’ 42.
Love’s next four pass attempts fell incomplete, though, and Utah State turned the ball over on downs.
Utah State trailed 24-21 entering the fourth, but a 24-yard touchdown pass from Love to junior wide receiver Ron’quavion Tarver put the Aggies back on top. The six-play, 99-yard scoring drive was set up by the defense, when redshirt freshman linebacker Kevin Meitzenheimer stopped Sanders on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1.
The Falcons regained the lead 3 1/2 minutes later when they recovered a fumble in the end zone, but again, the Aggies rallied. Love found Tarver for the second time in the quarter, this time from 22 yards out, to make it 35-31 with 5:28 to go.
Too much time was left on the clock for Air Force, which drove 75 yards on 13 plays for the game-winning touchdown.
Sophomore wide receiver Gerold Bright led the Aggies in rushing with a career-best 102 yards on nine carries, including a career-long 75-yard touchdown run that gave Utah State a 14-3 lead midway through the opening quarter.
Fellow wide receiver, junior Aaren Vaughns, added a career-high 69 yards rushing and one touchdown on two carries. He scored on a 71-yard reverse less than two minutes into the first quarter for the game’s first touchdown.
Senior running back LaJuan Hunt produced the Aggies’ third rushing touchdown of the first half on an 11-yard run with 5:56 to go in the second quarter, giving Utah State a 21-10 lead.
It appeared as if the Aggies would head into the locker room with that 11-point advantage, but the Falcons drove 91 yards on 11 plays, capped by Sanders’ 2-yard touchdown run with four seconds remaining until the break.
Tarver led Utah State in receiving with four catches for 86 yards, while Roberts finished with three receptions for 64 yards.
As a team, the Aggies gained 521 yards of total offense – 284 through the air and 237 on the ground. Conversely, Air Force had 440 yards of offense, the majority of which came on the ground to the tune of 407.
Redshirt freshman linebacker David Woodward led Utah State’s defensive effort with a career-high 13 tackles, including 1.0 tackles for loss. Junior linebacker Suli Tamaivena added 11 stops.
Utah State will now await for an invitation to play in its sixth bowl game in the last seven years, and the 12th all-time in school history.
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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