PROVO – Aggie fans lined the path to the locker room in the northeast corner of LaVell Edwards Stadium after the 35-20 upset over BYU. They cheered for and congratulated the Aggie football players as they walked off the field. Injured quarterback Chuckie Keeton smiled as he rolled the Old Wagon Wheel trophy into the locker room.
They had more than enough reasons to be happy. It was the first time that Utah State had won in Provo since 1978. It all went down on national television and they did it against the 18th ranked team in the country.
“I can’t explain it,” quarterback Darell Garretson said of the feeling in the locker room after the game. “It’s awesome. It’s the greatest thing I’ve experienced.”
Almost nobody had picked the upset. BYU was undefeated and the Aggies had struggled to move the ball and finish drives all season long. Less than two weeks earlier, they lost in overtime at Arkansas State.
“What a tremendous win for those kids,” head coach Matt Wells said. “They hung together. It was a tough couple of weeks. A lot of people doubting us out there. It’s a sweet win. It’s for Aggie nation.”
In last year’s game against the Cougars, Keeton suffered a season-ending injury. This year, BYU’s Heisman hopeful Taysom Hill also suffered a season-ending injury when he was tackled and fractured his leg.
“That’s a tough thing,” Wells said. “I hate that in sports. We’ve suffered our share of those season-ending injuries and that stinks. That kid is a tremendous competitor and I hate that for him. I really do.”
Right after kickoff, BYU jumped out to an early lead. They made their first drive look easy as Hill moved the ball down the field by completing a long pass and then running into the end zone himself. Utah State followed it up with a long drive of its own but fumbled a snap in BYU territory and turned the ball over to the Cougars.
“After that we knew we were all right,” linebacker Nick Vigil said. “We just had to buckle down and limit explosive plays and I think we were able to do that.”
Utah State tied the game up at the end of the first quarter when Garretson found Devonte Robinson on a seven-yard touchdown pass, but BYU took the lead back early in the second quarter when Mitch Mathews scored a touchdown on a 25-yard reception.
The turning point in the game came late in the first half when USU trailed by seven. The Aggies set up for a field goal, but an offsides penalty against BYU during the attempt resulted in a USU first down. Because of that, USU was able to tie the game on a Garretson touchdown run. The Aggies would score another touchdown thirteen seconds later after a BYU fumble was followed up by another Robinson touchdown reception. After that score, Utah State went up 21-14 and never trailed again.
Nick Vigil surprised some people by not only playing his normal linebacker position, but by getting some reps running the ball on offense. He led the team in rushing with 59 yards and a touchdown. Wells said he thought Vigil played phenomenal on both sides of the ball.
“Kid was cramping, kid was throwing up on the sidelines. I think he threw up on the field once,” he said. “He’s in. He’s out. He’s cramping. He’s not. And then he came up to me and said, ‘Don’t take me out if you want me.’ Unbelievable performance.”
Garretson was another player who had a big game for the Aggies. He threw for 321 yards and a touchdown.
“He remained calm and composed,” Wells said. “That’s what he did. For him to come into this environment and to this arena and everything surrounding these last two weeks, my hat’s off to that young man.”
Wide receiver Hunter Sharp led the Aggies in receiving yards with 173 yards and a touchdown. Robinson added 98 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
The Aggies are now 3-2 on the season. They will open up conference play next Saturday when Air Force visits Romney Stadium in Logan.
“We’re going to have to be on our best game,” Vigil said. “They’re a tough team that runs the option. We’re going to have to get our guys healthy and get some momentum building.”