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Utah State bounces back from opening week loss with 62-7 beatdown of Stony Brook

The Aggies racked up the second-most yards in school history with 717, and have now scored 60 points in three consecutive home games going back to 2018.

Utah State wide receiver Deven Thompkins (13) returns a punt 45 yards for a touchdown against Stony Brook during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Logan, Utah.
Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP

LOGAN — Every year since 2012, when they opened with wins over Southern Utah and Utah, the Utah State Aggies have started the season with a win and a loss.

Every early season loss over those seven years has come at the hands of a Power Five opponent — either in Week 1 or Week 2 — with teams like Utah, Tennessee, USC, Michigan State, and most recently Wake Forest downing the Aggies.

Nearly every year though, Utah State has managed to bounce back from those early defeats and that was the case Saturday night at Maverik Stadium.

Utah State handily defeated Stony Brook 62-7 Saturday night in the home opener, earning the team’s first victory of the 2019 season.

Quarterback Jordan Love threw for 294 yards and a score and running back Jaylen Warren rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns in what proved an offensive clinic.

Utah State totaled 717 yards in the contest — the second most in program history — and set a program record with 35 first downs. The offensive outburst marked the third straight home game — going back to last season — in which Utah State has scored 60-plus points, another school record.

Six players, including Warren, Gerold Bright, Siaosi Mariner, Derek Wright, Andrew Peasley and Deven Thompkins found the end zone. Thompkins had both a touchdown reception and a punt return for a score.

“Obviously great to win,” Utah State head coach Gary Andersen said. “Lots of players contributed and they fought hard. We are excited to get this win. We have plenty to improve on, but there were some great individual performances tonight.”

None more notable than the performance of Thompkins. The sophomore receiver had a team-best five receptions for 77 yards — including a 45-yard catch — and a touchdown to go along with his 45-yard punt return.

“I feel like a little kid again, like I am back in Pop Warner,” Thompkins said. “I got to show my talent and showed everyone who I am.”

“We played the game we were supposed to play,” he added. “We played to our full potential tonight.”

For as good as the Aggies were offensively, they were arguably better on defense, a significant improvement from the opener against Wake Forest.

The Utah State defense forced five consecutive three-and-outs to start the game, seven in total. The Seawolves were forced to punt 11 times, and turned the ball over on downs once.

Stony Brook also went just 5 of 17 on third down, a conversion rate of 29%.

Ultimately, Utah State held the Seawolves to just 263 yards of total offense, 108 on the ground and 115 in the air.

“We always need to grow and we challenged this defense to do that, to continue to grow and develop,” Andersen said. “They did that tonight. We had one drive that (Stony Brook) got (a touchdown), when we had a bunch of reserves in there, but then our reserves kind of figured it out a little bit, communicated and tackled better. They really gained a lot of momentum for themselves. You’ve got to get off the field on third down on defense and we kind of flipped the chart on that today.”

“We did a great job,” linebacker David Woodward added. “Just getting three-and-outs and stopping the run. We tried to make plays no matter what the score was and tried to look forward.”

For as dominant an outing as it was, the Aggies were sluggish at the outset.

An early 10-play drive stalled in Stony Brook territory on the Aggies’ opening series, forcing Utah State to settle for a 35-yard Dominik Eberle field goal.

That score proved the ice-breaker, however, as the Aggies went on to add two touchdowns in the first quarter, and 17 additional points in the second.

The scoring onslaught slowed in the second half, but not before Warren rumbled for a 54-yard touchdown to kick off the third quarter.

With just over seven minutes remaining in the third, Andersen pulled many of the Aggies’ offensive starters, giving backup quarterback Henry Colombi, BYU graduate transfer Riley Burt and other reserves some run.

“It was good to get some young players in there in the second half,” Andersen said.

The highlights included a 30-yard touchdown reception by Derek Wright just before the end of the third quarter that stretched the Aggies’ lead to 48-7.

Soon after, in the fourth quarter, third-string quarterback Andrew Peasley reeled off a 59-yard run for a touchdown, a score that stretched the Utah State lead to 55-7.

A final touchdown, by Thompkins via Colombi, pushed the Aggies over the 60-point total and into the record books.

“It was good to see,” Andersen said. “We now have to build on the win and continue to grow as a program. We have to grow together and keep on fighting.”