Utah State vs. Air Force final score: Chuckie Keeton leads Aggies to first MWC win

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Spor

Utah State won their first ever Mountain West game in a rout over Air Force.

Chuckie Keeton and the Utah State Aggies bounced back from a disappointing loss last week to route the Air Force Falcons 52-20 in Colorado Springs, Colo. Once again the quarterback play led the way as the Aggie offense totaled 577 yards and Keeton accounted for five touchdowns through the air, plus a pick. Keeton went 32 of 40 for 360 yards, and rushed for 77 yards. Through the first two games he has totaled over 800 yards passing, almost 200 yards rushing, accounted for eight touchdowns and has a 172 quarterback rating.

The running game for the Aggies does not look like it has in previous years but with the trio of backs of Joe Hill, Joey DeMartino and Robert Marshall carrying the load the Falcons were on their heels all 60 minutes, unsure where to pick their poison. As a team Utah State rushed for 217 yards. The Aggies had their way on offense and distributed the ball well; 10 different receivers got in the mix with receptions, led by Travis Van Leeuwen, who had six catches for 70 yards.

The Aggie defense is the mystery for this team. At times in the past two weeks they have looked much like last year when they finished top 15 nationally, and at other times you might think they lost their star cornerback in the third round of the NFL draft. Not only has losing now Will Davis to the NFL caused a hole in the secondary, but possibly losing four-year starting safety McKade Brady has been a more difficult role to replace. Brady has speed and would often cover for the cornerbacks when they were beat over the top, but no one has stepped up in that role quite yet this year. The secondary for the Aggies performed average today but if not for four or five wide open drops by the Falcon receivers in key situations, this game possibly would have gone a very different way.

On the other hand, the Aggie defensive line looked fast and was flying around the field for big stops again and again, which is a big task against the very run-friendly Falcon offense. That Falcon offense seemed to disappear after the first quarter and soon replaced their starting quarterback with backup Karson Roberts in hopes of sparking the offense which was all for naught.

All in all this was a more important game than last week and a needed win as the Aggies start off their Mountain West Conference season. We did not learn much new about this Aggie squad but did solidify where the strengths and weaknesses are. They will look to continue their offense prowess in the coming weeks and improve on the gaps in the defense as the head to their home opener against Weber State next Saturday.

TEAM NOTES

* Utah State won its first ever Mountain West game and improves to 29-25-3 all-time in conference openers, including a 12-13-3 road record.

* Utah State's 52 points are its most since defeating Wyoming, 63-19, in Logan on Oct. 8, 2011. The 52 points are also the most scored on the road since winning at Idaho, 52-49, on Nov. 28, 2009.

* Utah State has now won 12 straight conference games dating back to the 2011 season, extending its own school record. USU has also won seven straight conference road games dating back to 2011, setting a school record. Overall, USU has an 8-3 record in its last 11 road games.

* Utah State has won 17 of its last 21 games dating back to 2011, which is USU's best stretch since going 18-2-1 during the 1960-61 seasons.

* Utah State recorded 577 yards of total offense, marking the sixth time in the last eight games dating back to the 2011 season that it has recorded at least 500 yards of total offense.

* USU has averaged 32:03.5 time of possession in its last two games, with 32:04 last week vs. Utah and 32:03 Saturday vs. Air Force.

PLAYER NOTES

* Utah State players who made their first career start Saturday included sophomore WR Brandon Swindall, senior DL Paul Piukala, and senior LB Terrell Thompson.

* Junior QB Chuckie Keeton became the 25th player and second quarterback in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in his career. Overall, Keeton has now rushed for 1,074 yards in his career to rank tied for 23rd all-time in school history with Melvin Blue.

* Junior QB Chuckie Keeton tied his career-high and his own school record with five touchdown passes as he also had five touchdown passes against Wyoming on Oct. 8, 2011. Keeton has now thrown at least four touchdown passes in a game for the third time in his career, three touchdown passes six times in his career, and two touchdown passes in a game for the second time this year and 15th time in his career. Overall, he now has 45 career touchdown passes to rank third all-time in school history.

* Junior QB Chuckie Keeton has now thrown for at least 300 yards in both games this season and in five of his last seven games dating back to the 2012 season. Overall, Keeton has seven career 300-yard passing games.

* Junior QB Chuckie Keeton completed a career-high 32 passes and tied his career-high with 40 attempts. Overall, Keeton now has 444 career completions to move him ahead of Travis Cox (423) and into seventh-place on USU's all-time career completions list.

* Junior QB Chuckie Keeton had 437 yards of total offense to move him past Brent Synder (5,928) and Eric Hipple (6,121) and into fourth-place all-time at USU with 6,321 career yards of total offense.

* Senior WR Travis Van Leeuwen recorded a career-high six receptions, including his first touchdown this year and fourth of his career.

* Junior RB Joe Hill recorded his ninth career rushing touchdown in the first quarter, including his first this season. Hill also recorded his first touchdown reception of the year and third of his career.

* Sophomore WR Brandon Swindall had a career-high five receptions and a career-best 63 receiving yards. Swindall also had a career-long reception of 24 yards in the third quarter.

* Junior WR Shaan Johnson caught his first career pass in the first quarter.

* Junior WR Ronald Butler's first career reception was also a 23-yard touchdown reception.

* Senior RB Joey DeMartino recorded his first touchdown of the season and second of his career in the second quarter. DeMartino also had career-highs in both receptions (2) and receiving yards (27).

* Senior RB Robert Marshall posted a career-high for carries (13) and was just shy of his career-best in yards with 49 Saturday, just behind 54 at SJSU on 11/13/10.

* Senior WR Travis Reynolds had a career-best 59 receiving yards.

* Junior TE Keegan Andersen caught his first career touchdown pass and recorded career-highs in both receptions (3) and receiving yards (20).

* Junior LB Zach Vigil forced his third career fumble in the first quarter.

* Sophomore LB Kyler Fackrell recovered his second career fumble in the first quarter.

* Senior LB Terrell Thompson forced his first career fumble in the second quarter.

* Senior LB Jake Doughty has now recorded double-digit tackles in both games this year and for the sixth time in his career.

* Senior DE Paul Piukala had a career-high five tackles.

* Freshman LB Nick Vigil had a career-high six tackles.

* Junior PK Nick Diaz is now 3-of-3 on field goals this year and 11-of-14 in his career, including 4-of-5 from 40-49 yards.

* USU's two punts Saturday were its fewest since Nov. 12, 2011 when the Aggies also punted twice against San Jose State.

* Junior P Jaron Bentrude boomed a career-long 47-yard punt in the fourth quarter, topping his career-long for the second game in a row, bettering a 43-yarder last week at Utah.

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