The Utah State Aggies defeated the No. 23 Northern Illinois Huskies 21-14 in an ugly matchup at the Poinsettia Bowl Thursday night. The win over Northern Illinois was Utah State just third win in 54 tries against a ranked team as well as the teams second straight bowl win, a program first.
This game was either filled with poor play or a defensive struggle; depending on one's view. What can be said is that Utah State's defense came to play and shutdown Northern Illinois and their Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch. The Huskies offense averaged 41 points per game and they were held to just 14 points against the Aggies. Lynch threw the ball well in the first half and finished the game 20 of 35 for 216 yards, but he rushed for just 39 yards which has his second worst output of the season.
Utah State was led by running back Joey DeMartino who ran for 143 yards plus a touchdown; the Aggies won 14-straight games when someone rush for over 100 yards.
The first half was a low scoring affair where Utah State scored just six points and had a missed field goal, but Northern Illinois was able to move the ball but due to penalties, bad punts, their own missed field goal and stalled drives they ended up with just seven points.
Northern Illinois looked to capitalize on their touchdown in the first half as they received to start the third quarter, but Lynch was picked off by a diving Brian Suite. Utah State ended up scoring a touchdown off of that turnover.
Utah State sealed the win when they drove 80 yards on 17 plays which ate up over seven minutes which resulted in DeMartino's only score of the day.
Lynch did lead Northern Illinois back to make it a 21-14 game on a big fourth down play with 1:44 left in the game, but the ensuing onside kick was snuffed out by wide receiver Brandon Swindall.
Aggies quarterback Darell Garretson struggled in this game with two interceptions; one was thrown in their end zone and the other was a tipped pass that allowed Northern Illinois to get the ball in the Huskies red zone. However, Northern Illinois scored zero points of those turnovers. Northern Illinois had to punt on their first interception and then on the second, and much shorter field, Mathew Sims missed a field goal, his second of the game.
For the season the Aggies have been great in not allowing teams to score points off of their own miscues.
Utah State has turned the ball over 16 times this year. Opponents have scored a total of 13 points. LESS THAN ONE POINT PER TURNOVER. #USU— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) December 27, 2013
Utah State celebrating their bowl win.
The Aggies celebrate their 2nd straight bowl win pic.twitter.com/TdZtdylzHx— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) December 27, 2013