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Aggie mistakes blow their chance

Penalties, turnovers combine to take them out of contest

Utah State's Ryan Bohm, left, fumbles the football in the fourth quarter to kill a comeback attempt.
Utah State's Ryan Bohm, left, fumbles the football in the fourth quarter to kill a comeback attempt.
Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News

LOGAN — Utah State continued to perfect self-destruction in its 27-17 loss to Louisiana Tech Saturday.

The Aggies dominated in every category that didn't matter, including total yards gained and yards allowed. But they lost on penalties, turnovers and ultimately the scoreboard.

"When you look at the stat sheet, we did everything else right except for the turnovers," Utah State coach Brent Guy said. "That's the biggest thing we talked about going into this game."

Louisiana Tech entered the game at plus-6 in turnover margin, which was tops in the Western Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs turned the ball over just once against the Aggies, so that number is now plus-9.

Seventeen of Louisiana Tech's points were scored following a Utah State turnover, and seven more came following a fake Utah State punt that went awry.

Utah State's playmakers — Leon Jackson III, Ryan Bohm, Kevin Robinson and Tony Pennyman — each fumbled.

"I told the team afterward we've got to get this corrected," Guy said. "It doesn't matter how well we do unless we hang on to the football."

Jackson threw for a career-high 372 yards on a career-high 27 completions, and Robinson set a career-high in catches (9) and yards (131) in the loss. Bohm, after rushing for 94 yards at nationally ranked Alabama last week, rushed for 42 yards and two touchdowns. He also has six receptions for 74 yards, while Pennyman tallied seven catches for 79 yards.

"We've done some things much better today than we have in the past," Guy said. "These last three games are going to be tough. We have to work and turn things around."

Utah State (2-6, 1-4) travels to Hawaii next week before hosting Nevada in its final home game of the season. The Aggies close out the year Nov. 26 at New Mexico State.

With the win, the Bulldogs (5-3, 4-1) stay in the chase for the WAC title, but have games remaining with Idaho, Boise State and Fresno State.

"It is absolutely huge (to get a road win). These are not easy games," La. Tech coach Jack Bicknell said.

The road win was the first of the year for the Bulldogs, who still have road games at Idaho and Fresno State.

The Aggies tallied 478 yards total offense to Louisiana Tech's 276 (a season-low by the Aggie defense), but the Bulldogs survived eight Aggie trips inside their territory and only gave up 17 points.

Utah State ventured into Bulldog territory four times in the first half alone, and managed just three points. The Aggies lost the ball via punt, fumble and downs, and a Louisiana Tech sack nearly thwarted a third, but the Aggies managed a Justin Hamblin 35-yard field-goal, a career-long effort that made the score 6-3.

After Pennyman fumbled near midfield on the first possession of the second half, the Aggies overcame themselves and engineered a 13-play, 80-yard drive.

The Aggies were still lucky on that drive, however. Robinson fumbled the ball through the end zone, which would have given the Bulldogs the ball, but he was ruled out of bounds before fumbling. If replay was allowed in the WAC, the call would have been overturned.

Louisiana Tech stopped the Aggies on a fourth-and-goal from the one, but an offsides penalty gave USU another chance and Bohm made them pay with the one-yard run.

At 13-10, the Aggies were in the game. On their next drive, the Aggies were taken out of the Bulldogs' territory with a fumble, and they later lost the ball on downs on a fake-punt attempt.

The Bulldogs scored on the miscue to take the lead for good at 20-10. Robinson fumbled the kickoff and the Bulldogs recovered and eventually scored five plays later.

The Aggies drove inside the Louisiana Tech 27 with less than four minutes left in the game, but Bohm, who had fumbled earlier in the drive (recovered by the Aggies), fumbled again. This time the Bulldogs recovered.

"We had a chance right up until the end until we fumbled," Guy said.

Louisiana Tech quarterback Matt Kubik completed 16 of 26 passes for 150 yards, while running back Patrick Jackson rushed for 71 yards. Eric Newman tallied five catches for 47 yards with a touchdown.

Bohm added his second touchdown of the game with 6:28 left in the game with a four-yard run.