LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State's offense produced 563 total yards (428-passing, 135-rushing), but it was the Aggie defense that came out on top in its annual Spring Game with a come-from-behind 75-64 win Saturday afternoon on Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium.
With a special scoring system, the offense got six points for a touchdown, three points for a field goal, two points for a rush of 15 or more yards, two points for a pass of 20 or more yards, one point for a first down and one or two points for respective conversions. The defense earned 12 points for a touchdown, six points for a turnover, three points for a three-and-out, three points for a blocked or missed field goal, two points for a stopped drive, sack or tackle for loss, as well as one or two points for failed respective conversions.
"Today was good and the weather held off," said fifth-year head coach Matt Wells. "It was a really good crowd for the weather. Our guys competed hard and it was a really fast start by the offense and they did a nice job early. There were some good plays by the defense late in the scrimmage. Nobody got hurt, so it was a good day and competitive score.
"The defense did a nice job of stopping the run. I didn't think we ran the ball really well today, but we threw it and caught it, and moved the ball down the field that way."
Utah State's No. 1 offense started fast, scoring on its opening drive as senior QB Kent Myers connected with sophomore WR Gerold Bright on a 21-yard pass to complete a 10-play, 80-yard drive. On its next series, the USU offense drove 65 yards in 17 plays before stalling and settling for a 27-yard field goal from freshman PK Michael Smith.
Utah State's defense then posted consecutive three-and-outs to get back into the game, only to see Myers rush for 85 yards on the first play of the next series as the No. 1 offense capped the 87-yard, two-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by junior RB Justen Hervey.
Myers finished the scrimmage completing 10-of-12 passes for 93 yards and one touchdown, and added a team-best 70 rushing yards on just three carries. Redshirt freshman QB Jordan Love was 19-of-31 passing for 236 yards with one interception, and junior QB DJ Nelson was 11-of-18 passing for 99 yards and one pick. Hervey led the Aggie running backs as he gained 46 yards on 17 carries, while Bright had a team-high five receptions for 77 yards.
"We wanted to come out at the beginning of the game and play quick and score, get that juice and momentum going," said Myers. "We did pretty well on that, but there are a lot of things we can still work on."
The Aggie defense controlled much of the second half as it allowed just one score, a 4-yard touchdown run by Nelson, while posting a pair of interceptions from senior CB Wesley Bailey and senior LB Patrick Lee Miranda.
Junior LB Chase Christiansen led the Aggie defense with nine tackles, including 1.0 tackles for loss, while redshirt freshman LB Dalton Baker added six stops, which included 2.0 tackles for loss. Junior NG Gasetoto Schuster posted a pair of sacks during the Spring Game and finished with three tackles.
"It was kind of rough at times and we gave up too many yards, but in the end, we made some stops on the goal-line, which was huge for us," said Christiansen. "Overall, it was decent, but not where we want it to be. We've got a lot to improve on."
Utah State, which returns 15 starters (O-7, D-8) and 40 letterwinners (O-18, D-20, S-2) from last year, will open the 2017 season on Friday, Sept. 1, at Wisconsin and begin its home season the following weekend against Idaho State on Thursday, Sept. 7. Mountain West play begins for USU two weekends later at San José State on Saturday, Sept. 23.
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.
ADDITIONAL QUOTES ON SPRING GAME
Head Coach Matt Wells
On how he thought Kent Myers looked running the offense:
"I thought he did well. He played efficient, threw the ball well and managed the offense in his limited reps -- he only played in the first half."
On the second half:
"A lot of younger players played in the second half and it's always fun to see the competitiveness of them individually, and then both sides going back and forth. I didn't have to manufacture the score today because it went down to the wire."
Senior QB Kent Myers
On the new offense:
"It's a lot of freedom with the quarterbacks and we're able to make a lot of checks out there. There are a lot of vertical routes and we can spread out the defense, and get the ball to our playmakers."
On his long run that nearly went for a touchdown:
"I think I would've scored and I was trying not to get touched because as soon as they put a fingernail on me, I'm down. But in a real game, I'm scoring on that for sure."
Junior LB Chase Christiansen
On the defense getting better as the scrimmage wore on:
"Early on, we struggled and gave up that big run, which is something we never want to see. You get a feel for it as the game goes on and there is kind of a rhythm and a flow to it, and we picked up on that and started making more plays."
On the red-zone defense:
"That is an emphasis that we've had lately. When the offense gets in the red zone, our goal is 50 percent of the available points, so if we can keep them from scoring a touchdown and better yet, they miss a field goal, that's huge for us."
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