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Ineffective Utah State offense lets defense down

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Anytime you allow just 203 total yards in a football game, you expect to win. That is, unless you're the Utah State football team.

Every game this season - yes, even the dreadful Washington game - the Aggie defense has played well, often outstanding. Yet all the defense has to show for those fine efforts is one measly victory, and that came against a I-AA team.The same thing happened again Saturday night in Boise. The Aggie defense played great and shut down Boise State for nearly the entire game. However, the Ags couldn't quite hold off the Broncos, who were handed great field position by an ineffective USU offense in the fourth quarter.

The 30-16 final was not at all indicative of the game, as the Aggies gave up two interceptions for touchdowns in the final two minutes when they were in a desperation mode. Actually, this was a game the Aggies felt they should have won, just like several other games this season.

The Aggies seemed on the way to their second win of the year when they took a 16-7 lead into the final quarter. But, early in the fourth quarter, on a 3rd-and-12 play at the USU 18, the Boise State defense came at freshman quarterback Jeff Crosbie full bore, forcing a fumble at the 6-yard line.

It looked like a sure touchdown until the Aggie defense rose up and held, forcing a fumble on 4th down at the 1. But when the offense couldn't climb out of the hole, a horrible punt put the Broncos back in business at the 23, and they scored three plays later.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Ags returned the kick to midfield, only to have a clipping penalty put them back in another hole. A punt set up the Broncos at midfield and even though the defense held, it couldn't stop Todd Belcastro's 52-yard field goal that proved to be the game-winner.

"When we had the lead at 16-7, we felt we were in good shape," said coach Dave Arslanian. "But you've got to be a consistent football team and we're not. Part of that comes with the lack of success we've had."

The Aggies will try to turn things around this week when they travel to Las Cruces, N.M., to face an improved New Mexico State team at 1:30 p.m.

AGNOTES: The Aggies rank 13th in the nation in total defense and 12th in rushing defense. However, they are 85th in scoring defense . . . With three field goals, Brad Bohn moved up to third in the nation in field goals with 1.8 per game . . . Robert Scott had seven catches for 69 yards, while Aaron Jones had four catches for 101 yards and a touchdown . . . Demario Brown had his best game since the opener against Utah with 93 yards on 25 carries . . . After gaining 300 yards through three quarters, the Aggies managed just 19 yards in the final quarter.



USU flashback

Score: Boise State 30, USU 16

Record: 1-7, 0-2 BWC

Offense: Through three quarters, the offense was about as sharp as it's been all year. However, the inexperience of quarterback Jeff Crosbie showed in the fourth quarter when the Ags fell apart. Grade: C+

Defense: As usual, the defense couldn't take much blame in the loss. It gave up just one scoring drive over 23 yards and held the Broncos to just 203 yards total offense. Grade: B+

Special teams: For three quarters, the punt team played flawlessly. Then a Jerry Arguello punt went only 18 yards to set up the Broncos' second touchdown that cut the lead to 16-14. Grade: C+

Next up: at New Mexico State, Saturday