The Friday night lights shined bright at Maverik Stadium in Logan as the Aggies welcomed Colorado State to town for a chance to take sole possession of the lead in the Mountain West Mountain Division.
By just about the narrowest of margins, the Aggies accomplished that feat, defeating Rams 26-24 after a potential game-winning 41-yard field goal was missed by Colorado State’s Cayden Camper with one second remaining on the clock.
Colorado State mistakenly rushed the field goal unit onto the field instead of spiking the ball, which forced Camper to unnecessarily hurry his kick attempt, which the Aggies would end up being grateful for when the kick ended up wide left.
Instead of spiking it on first down and stopping the clock, Colorado State rushed their field goal unit onto the field.— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) October 23, 2021
With the clock running, they then missed the potential game-winning field goal. Utah State wins the game. pic.twitter.com/vw3sXclgDP
Regardless of how it happened, the Aggies improved to 5-2 on the season (3-1 in conference play) and now control their own destiny in the Mountain Division with five games left to play in the regular season.
“It just makes the next one even more important,” Utah State head coach Blake Anderson said after the win. “We don’t talk about the conference race, we just talk about getting one degree better every day. I thought we made strides from last week and we need to do the same thing again (next week).”
Deven Thompkins, who’s made it a routine to get over 100 yards through the air this season, finished with six catches for 104 yards, while Derek Wright finished with two catches for 63 yards and the only two touchdowns of the night for the Aggies.
The defensive and special teams units played admirably for Utah State, forcing two turnovers and even recovering a pooch kick that went deep into Colorado State territory.
Hawaii will be the next test for the Aggies, as the Rainbow Warriors will make the trip to Logan next Saturday at 6 p.m. MT.
Here are three takeaways from the narrow win for Utah State Friday:
Logan Bonner takes too many hits
Utah State quarterback Logan Bonner had already taken his fair share of physical abuse in the games leading up to Friday, but Colorado State delivered the toughest beating the signal caller has received up to this point in the season.
Bonner was sacked eight times, resulting in a loss of 52 yards for the Utah State offense, but it wasn’t just the lost yardage that was concerning for the Aggies.
Rather, it was the fact that Bonner looked like he was in pain after nearly every series, favoring a different part of his body each time he took a hit.
The lack of protection was a troubling development for a Utah State team that will need a healthy Bonner if it wants to continue to exceed expectations this season.
Connor Coles bounces back
Despite being so steady all season, kicker Connor Coles struggled mightily last week against UNLV, finishing 0 for 5 on his field goal kicks within the confines of Allegiant Stadium.
Back home in Maverik Stadium Friday evening, Coles drilled all four of his field goal attempts, delivering crucial points for an Aggie offense that struggled to move the ball the closer it got to the end zone.
Coles said he just put the UNLV performance out of memory and that helped him perform so well in Friday’s game.
“I’m extremely grateful to my coaches and my teammates for sticking with me through last week,” Coles said. “I just focused on what matters now because hanging your head and getting angry at yourself for past games isn’t going to help you win the next one.
“I knew what I did wrong and I made the adjustments I needed to and felt confident going into this game based on my preparation during this week of practice.”
Expectations exceeded with each win
While it hasn’t always been pretty for Anderson and the Aggies, they just keep on finding ways to win football games.
Expectations were low for what many expected to be a rebuilding season, but those expectations have already been exceeded as Anderson and his guys find themselves sitting in the driver’s seat of the Mountain West Conference’s Mountain Division.
It seems now that the only people who haven’t had their expectations exceeded are the Aggies themselves, who expected to be in this position all along.
“Last season didn’t go as planned, so to come out and have the year so far that we have had — obviously (with) two tough losses to two good teams — but at the end of the day, being 5-2, I don’t think a lot of people outside of this family expected that this season,” Wright said.
“We’ve just got to keep going out there every week and proving people wrong, and we’ll have a shot.”