LOGAN — While it was smoky haze that lingered in the sky above Cache Valley prior to the start of Utah State’s home opener Thursday night, by the end of the first quarter, the Aggies were also leaving the Idaho State Bengals in the dust.
Utah State (1-1) racked up 596 total yards of offense on its way to a 51-13 rout of Idaho State (1-1), ending the Aggies' six-game losing streak that started with a loss to San Diego State on Oct. 28, 2016, and continued through last week’s 59-10 clobbering at Wisconsin.
“It’s been a long time,” USU quarterback Kent Myers said of the victory, which was witnessed by 19,638 fans at Maverik Stadium. “It feels good to get a win in the first home game and give the fans what they want to see.”
Myers led the way offensively for the Aggies, completing 24 of 26 passes for 323 yards, one interception and two touchdowns. The senior from Texas also did some major damage with his legs, rushing for 85 yards and two more scores on just eight carries.
“I felt really sharp,” Myers declared. "I came in here with a chip on my shoulder, saying the Wisconsin game didn’t go the way that we wanted it to. I knew I was going to have to grind 10 times harder this game, so my preparation really came out and we just executed.”
Myers completed 12 of 13 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter alone as the Aggies built a 17-0 lead that swelled to a 38-6 advantage by halftime. His only misfires during the game came on a pass in the end zone that freshman Jordan Nathan snagged with a foot just barely out of bounds, and another throw that went off the hands of freshman tight end Carson Terrell and was snagged by a defender, leading to ISU’s first touchdown.
“Today was a good step in the right direction for Kent,” USU head coach Matt Wells said. “When you protect him and have guys catch the ball, you gain confidence as a quarterback. He got us in and out of plays and we played fast. He has to continue to build off of it, and we all do on offense.”
Defensively, senior cornerback Jalen Davis was the main spark for the Aggies, snaring two interceptions in the first half, including one that he returned 25 yards for a touchdown. Davis, who also started against the Bengals as a true freshman in 2014, totaled four interceptions and two touchdowns when facing Idaho State in his career.
Davis, who was ejected in the first half of the game against the Badgers for targeting, was clearly ready to get back into action Thursday.
“I was really anxious to get back on the field because I just wanted to get back out there with my brothers after last week,” said Davis, who was clutching the game ball and wearing his trademark smile during the postgame press conference.
“That kind of broke my heart that they kicked me out of the game, and I couldn’t be out there with my family. So, I knew I needed to come back and get my team up, so we could go out and get a win and start a winning streak.”
Myers was pulled in the third quarter after leading the Aggies on an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive to start the second half that left the home team up 45-6. His replacement, redshirt freshman Jordan Love, completing 3 of 6 passes for 18 yards.
The two USU quarterbacks ended up completing throws to 13 different receivers, with junior wide receiver Ron’Quavion Tarver (seven receptions for 75 yards and one TD) and freshman Jordan Nathan (six receptions for 56 yards and one TD) leading the way. Sophomore tight end Dax Raymond, who missed all of last season and the Wisconsin game due to injury, also caught three passes for 56 yards while making his first career start.
Utah State also rushed for a total of 255 yards on 49 carries. Senior running back LaJuan Hunt started the game and finished with 51 yards on 10 carries, while JUCO transfer Eltoro Allen totaled 103 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries during the first home game of his career.
Overall, Wells said he liked the energy his team came out with at the start of both halves, as well as the fast pace that the team’s new spread offense operated very successfully.
“All-in-all it was a good win,” Wells added. “We had a good crowd, and it’s good to be back on the winning side.”
Idaho State also ended up with a 100-yard rusher, sophomore Ty Flanagan (25 carries for 106 yards and one TD), while starting quarterback Tanner Gueller completed 17 of 30 passes for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Bengals finished with 303 yards of offense against an Aggie defense led by Davis, and linebackers Chase Christiansen (eight tackles), Alex Huerta (six tackles) and Suli Tamaivena (six tackles).
“We did everything we could to win the thing, to try and win,” first-year ISU head coach Rob Phenicie said. “We weren’t going to go in whining about playing a Division I team and all that. Utah State is better than where they were picked by their media, and I’m familiar enough with the conference to know what type of level that they play at. They are a very good team."