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Utah State lovin' it with historic, dominating 45-20 victory over BYU

Utah State Aggies wide receiver Ron'quavion Tarver (1) celebrates his touchdown catch with his teammates during the Utah State versus BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018.
Utah State Aggies wide receiver Ron'quavion Tarver (1) celebrates his touchdown catch with his teammates during the Utah State versus BYU football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

PROVO — The Old Wagon Wheel will continue to roll in Logan after Utah State steamrolled BYU in historic fashion Friday night at LaVell Edwards Stadium, 45-20.

It marked the first time the Aggies defeated the Cougars in back-to-back seasons since 1973-74 — a span of 44 years.

"Utah State played a great game and they're a great team," said BYU coach Kalani Sitake. "They came in here and gave us a good butt-whupping."

The last two seasons, USU (4-1) has crushed BYU (3-3) by a combined score of 85-44 and the Aggies keep possession of the Old Wagon Wheel, emblematic of yearly supremacy in the series.

It was USU’s most lopsided victory — 25 points — over the Cougars since winning by 26 points 50 years ago (34-8 in 1968).

And, oh, by the way, USU (4-1) improved to 7-0 under coach Matt Wells following a bye week.

Yes, the Aggies were lovin’ it as quarterback Jordan Love completed 18 of 28 passes for 165 yards and four touchdowns.

BYU QB Tanner Mangum completed 27 of 46 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. It was his Mangum’s season-high in passing.

However, the Cougars were held to 39 yards rushing. “They stuffed us,” Sitake said.

USU, meanwhile, rushed for 223 yards.

The Aggies entered the night averaging 51 points per game and they nearly scored that many Friday.

The complexion of the game shifted dramatically early on when BYU had the ball at the USU 39-yard line midway through the first quarter in a scoreless game.

Facing a fourth-and-1, Mangum rolled out and threw a pass right into the hands of Aggie linebacker Tipa Galeai, who returned the interception 56 yards for a touchdown.

With that, USU took a 7-0 advantage against the shell-shocked Cougars.

"It was not the start that we wanted,” Sitake said. "We made some mistakes and that didn't help."

The Aggies extended their lead to 14-0 on a 71-yard drive highlighted by an impressive 44-yard completion from Love to Terrell Carson and capped by a two-yard TD catch on a trick play on fourth-and-goal by Gerold Bright with 1:50 left in the first quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter, things went from bad to worse for BYU as tight end Dallin Holker fumbled and USU recovered inside Cougar territory.

At that point, BYU had surrendered nine turnovers in a little more than five quarters against USU, dating back to last season.

Six plays later, Love connected with Ron’quavion Tarver for a 6-yard touchdown pass and with 12:23 still remaining in the second quarter, USU jumped out to a 21-0 lead. A facemask penalty on BYU linebacker Zayne Anderson on third down that kept that drive alive.

Just when it appeared the Cougars, down three touchdowns, would be left for dead, it showed a pulse on its ensuing possession.

Aided by two Utah State holding penalties and a pass interference call that totaled 35 yards, BYU marched 88 yards that culminated with a five-yard touchdown pass from Mangum to Lopini Katoa with 4:28 remaining in the second quarter.

The Cougars then forced a USU punt and BYU drove from its own 20-yard line to the Aggie 26-yard line in the final two minutes of the half. But Skyler Southam’s 43-yard field goal attempt at the end of the half was wide right.

Utah State added to its lead on the opening drive of the second half on a touchdown pass from Love to Jalen Greene to go up 28-7.

“They just drove it down and we weren’t able to counter it,” Sitake said. “The hole just got deeper from there.”

On its next possession, Love threw another TD pass to Tarver to make it 35-7 — the same score by which BYU lost to Washington a week ago.

The Cougars cut the deficit to 35-13 when Mangum threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Collie but Southam clanked the extra point off the upright.

Then on the final play of the third quarter, USU’s Jontrell Rocquemore had a 15-yard strip sack of Mangum, giving the ball back to the Aggies.

USU added 10 more points in the fourth quarter for good measure, capping a historic night, while BYU scored with 1:14 remaining on a touchdown pass by freshman Zach Wilson to freshman wide receiver Gunner Romney to make the final score 45-20.

The Cougars host Hawaii while the Aggies entertain UNLV next Saturday.