On one sideline there was absolute elation. On the other, utter dismay.
Every football game has a winner and a loser — except in the rare event of a tie — but Saturday night in Logan was different.
The Weber State Wildcats went into Maverik Stadium and upset the Utah State Aggies on their home field, 35-7.
The Wildcats dominated the Aggies, outplaying them in every facet of the game from nearly start to finish.
It was Weber State’s — a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) program — first victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program since 1993 and the Wildcats’ first win against Utah State since 1978.
It was a generational win for Weber State — the signature win of the Jay Hill era — and a brutal loss for Utah State, which hadn’t lost to an FCS opponent since 2000.
“The players were outstanding and I can’t say enough about the coaches and the game plan,” Weber State head coach Jay Hill said. “Ultimately, it comes down to players making plays, and they all did it on both sides of the ball. We ran it when we needed to, we threw it when we needed to and the defense was absolutely outstanding all night.”
Utah State head coach Blake Anderson couldn’t help but agree.
“Give credit to Jay and his group. We got outcoached and we got outplayed,” Anderson said. “It is that simple. They came with a great game plan and they executed it and had us off balance all night, on both sides of the ball.”
It was worse for the Aggies than Anderson painted it, though, and better than Hill could come to describe for the Wildcats.
Weber State was simply the far better team, and it showed across the board.
Weber State outgained Utah State 401 total yards to 283. The Wildcats recorded 22 first downs to 18 for the Aggies.
Weber State had three turnovers, while Utah State had four. The Wildcats dominated time of possession (36 minutes to 23 minutes), average yards per play (5.2 to 3.8) and third down conversions (10 of 19 for WSU, compared to 2 of 15 for USU).
Weber State converted on all five of its trips to the red zone, while Utah State’s only points came on a kick return by Terrell Vaughn.
Weber State quarterback Bronson Barron outplayed Utah State quarterback Logan Bonner, completing 11 of 22 passes for 202 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, compared to Bonner’s 12 of 31 for 120 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions.
Wildcats running back Josh Davis, meanwhile, rushed for 97 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown. Aggies running back Calvin Tyler Jr. mustered just 64 yards on an equal number of carries.
Name a position, on offense, defense or special teams, and the Wildcats nearly always came out on top of the Aggies.
“Weber just manhandled us up front on both sides,” Anderson said. “They played physical man coverage and we struggled to get open. They played better in one-on-one situations than we did.
“They outperformed us. It is that simple. When you play an aggressive style defense like that, you have to protect and then you have to win in one-on-one situations and we did not do that well enough.”
Hill, for his part, praised his players for exactly that.
“The players were tougher than nails and executed the game plan so well and made plays on both sides of the ball,” Hill said. “There were so many positives tonight and I’m super proud of the players and the coaches.”
There were moments when Utah State could have stolen momentum, and possibly the game.
Late in the first half, the Aggies drove deep into Weber State territory and were right on the doorstep of a touchdown that would have given them a 14-13 lead entering the break.
Instead, Bonner had a potential touchdown pass deflected and then intercepted by Weber State cornerback Maxwell Anderson.
Weber State had the ball to start the third quarter, and had Utah State forced a three-and-out, a punt or a turnover — anything that would have stymied the Wildcats’ offense — the Aggies would have had the ball, trailing by less than a touchdown.
Instead, Weber State reeled off an 18-play, 86-yard drive that lasted over nine minutes and ended with a 9-yard touchdown reception by Wildcats receiver Ty MacPherson.
“When we had to get a stop coming out of halftime we let them drive right down the field and make it a three-score game,” Blake Anderson said.
After the game, the Wildcats could be heard chanting “Weber State, Weber State, great, great, great,” cheers that shook the floor of the very room in which Blake Anderson fielded questions from media.
It was understandable. Weber State had just pulled off one of the most significant wins in program history, in dominant fashion, announcing that the Jay Hill era is still very much a high point in Weber State football history.
“We played really right into their plans,” Blake Anderson said. “They did a great job. They earned it. They are celebrating downstairs and they deserve to.”
Utah State, meanwhile, deserves any and all criticism it will get.
The reigning Mountain West Conference champions have looked nothing like the team it was in 2021. And at 1-2 — a record that could easily be 0-3 — it is fair to suggest that the Aggies aren’t simply a mediocre team, but a bad one.
At least for now.
“We have to learn from it, be critical in the (bye) week (next week) and find where we can get better,” Blake Anderson said, “because right now we are searching for ourselves, we are searching for consistency and we are searching for leadership.
“You name it, we are searching for it. There are a million things we need to work on. We are not a very good football team.”