Utah State had a much better first-quarter performance this week as they matched Fresno State’s touchdown to end the first quarter tied at 7. The Bulldogs and Aggies would also trade blows in the second quarter as both teams went into the half-tied at 14. The third quarter is where Fresno State began to pull away as Fresno State broke off a 46-yard run and Jaelen Gill threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Tre Watson. Utah State would outscore the Bulldogs 15-9 in the fourth quarter but poor play from Utah State in the 3rd quarter would be what ultimately lost Utah State this game. The Aggies would drive down the field with just under 5 minutes left in the game but Fresno State would also score again with just over two minutes left. The Aggies would go into Fresno State territory with a minute left but a Cooper Legas interception sealed the game for the Bulldogs.
Cooper Legas completed 23 of his 40 passes and threw for 363 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Rahsul Faison rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and Jaylen Royals would explode for 125 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions.
The key players for Fresno State were Logan Fife (22-39, 291 yards, three touchdowns), Malik Sherrod (24 carries, 131 yards, three touchdowns), and Tre Watson (5 receptions, 125 yards, 2 touchdowns).
First downs: USU: 29 first downs; Fresno St: 26 first downs
Third down conversions: Fresno St: 11-18 (61%); USU: 3-13 (23%)
Total yards: USU: 568 yards; Fresno St: 461 yards
Passing yards: USU: 363 yards; Fresno St: 310 yards
Rushing yards: USU: 205 yards; Fresno St: 151 yards
Penalties: Fresno St: 5-50; USU: 8-74
Turnovers: Fresno St: 0 turnovers; USU: 2 turnovers (two interceptions)
Time of possession: Fresno St: 33:09; USU: 26:51
Players of the Game
Offensive Player of the Game: The offensive player of the game is junior receiver Jaylen Royals, who had 125 yards receiving and two touchdowns off of seven receptions. Jaylen Royals has made his presence known recently, and has helped this offense be much more productive than before.
Defensive Player of the Game: The defensive player of the game is linebacker MJ Tafisi Jr., who made 17 tackles and had a pass deflection against the Bulldogs. The 17 tackles helped to get Fresno State off the field in key moments and helped to keep Utah State in this game. The number of tackles that Tafisi made shows how much he was flying around the field, making plays.
Utah State was able to make this game very competitive and had a chance to win the game late. The two things that made the difference were the third quarter and the third down conversions that Fresno State would be able to get. Cooper Legas played a good game, but the interception at the end cost the Aggies the opportunity to go down and win.
The loss to Fresno State drops Utah State to 3-4 on the season, and Utah State is now two losses in conference play, which makes a big difference when there are no divisions. Utah State had a chance to make it to the Mountain West title game no seems like a long shot for the Aggies, especially if Utah State loses to Boise State later in the season.
A positive sign for Utah State is that they played a much stronger first half, but the slow starts instead happened at the beginning of the second half. For Utah State to continue to have success moving forward this season the Aggies need to be able to continue to build on consistency in the first quarter. The other problem for Utah State is that they could not force Fresno State into any turnovers. Just one turnover could have made the difference in this game but Utah State just couldn’t get it done defensively.
Up next for the Aggies is a road game against San Jose State, who is currently sitting at 1-5 with two losses in conference play.