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Highlights, key plays and photos from Utah State’s 34-9 loss to Nevada

Utah State loses three games in a row for the first time since 2016 and starts the season 0-3 for the first time since 2008.

Nevada quarterback Carson Strong (12) during the first half of the team’s NCAA college football game against Utah State on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Reno, Nev.
Lance Iversen, Associated Press

Things are not getting any better for the Utah State Aggies.

In fact, they might be getting worse.

After dropping back-to-back games to Boise State and San Diego State to open the season, Utah State traveled to Reno, Nevada Thursday to battle the Nevada Wolfpack, hoping to stave off the program’s first 0-3 start since 2008.

It wasn’t to be, as Utah State fell convincingly to Nevada, 34-9.

The Aggies started well, taking a 9-0 lead in the first quarter, only to have the Wolfpack respond with 34 unanswered points.

Nevada did it through the air and on the ground, as quarterback Carson Strong finished with 411 yards passing and three touchdowns, while running back Toa Taua rushed for 107 yards and a score.

Nevada wide receiver Romeo Doubs was a star as well, with 137 yards receiving and three touchdowns.

Utah State was led by quarterback Jason Shelley, who completed 15 of 27 passes for 96 yards and a score (he also rushed for 34 yards). Linebacker A.J. Vongphachanh led the Aggies’ defense with 17 tackles.

Utah State is now 7-19 all-time against Nevada and 2-10 in Reno.


Offensive woes continue

For the third consecutive game, Utah State could not muster any sort of consistent offensive attack. The Aggies went 3-and-out five times, and only had two drives the entire game go more than 5 plays or last longer than 25 yards. One of those was the team’s long offensive scoring drive (Utah State also scored via safety), the other a garbage time drive against Nevada’s second team.

A run down defense

The offensive struggles did not help an Aggie defense that actually played pretty well, especially early in the game. Utah State forced a turnover on downs on Nevada’s first offensive possession of the game, followed up that stand with a safety, and then forced the Wolfpack to go 3-and-out on their ensuing possession. From there, though, the Aggies’ gave way as Nevada only had two drives go only three plays. The Wolfpack had six consecutive possessions where they gained 50-plus yards, four of which ended in touchdowns.

Bright spots?

For the most part, there were few positive takeaways for the Aggies, but some did exist. Linebacker A.J. Vongphachanh had a career game — he finished with 17 tackles. JUCO transfer receiver Justin McGriff caught the first touchdown of his Aggie career. Jaylen Warren was back on the field after missing the entirety of the San Diego State loss. Of course, those positives could not outweigh the vast amount of negatives that precipitated another Utah State defeat.

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End of 4th quarter

Nevada 34, Utah State 9

The Aggies dropped their third consecutive game, losing to Nevada 34-9. After a 9-point first quarter, the Aggies couldn’t do much of anything, on offense or on defense, while Nevada got whatever it whatever, whenever it wanted en route to the runaway win.

9:49 4th Quarter

Nevada 34, Utah State 9

Brandon Talton added yet another field goal, this one from 26 yards out.

End of 3rd Quarter

Nevada 31, Utah State 9

A few notes from the third quarter:

  • Nevada has proven better in almost every offensive category. The Wolfpack lead the time of possession battle by ten minutes (27:25 to 17:35), have converted 22 first downs to just eight conversions for the Aggies... it goes on and on.
  • Andrew Peasley came in for Jason Shelley at quarterback for Utah State and completed only 1 of 7 passes for 5 yards.
  • Jaylen Warren and Devontae Henry-Cole have combined for 50 yards on the ground, while Shelley has rushed for 44.
  • No Aggie receiver has more than 24 yards receiving.

2:03 3rd Quarter

Nevada 31, Utah State 9

Not content with their lead, Nevada added three more points on a 36-yard field goal by kicker Brandon Talton.

11:30 3rd quarter

Nevada 28, Utah State 9

After doing most of their damage through the air in the first half, Nevada switched things up to start the third quarter, as Toa Taua rushed for a 15-yard touchdown.

End of 2nd Quarter

Nevada 21, Utah State 9

A few notes from the second quarter:

  • Nevada’s Carson Strong is the only quarterback in the nation with four straight games with 350 passing yards and he’s well on his way again with 282 yards through the air in the first half.
  • Strong’s success is largely due to the electric Romeo Doubs, who has 7 receptions for 132 yards and 3 touchdowns.
  • After limiting the Wolfpack to just over 100 yards of total offense in the first quarter, the Aggies fell apart in the 2nd quarter, as Nevada is now up to 307 yards of total offense.
  • Utah State’s offense, which showed life early, has completely stalled and punted on both 2nd quarter possessions.

6:54 2nd Quarter

Nevada 21, Utah State 9

Carson Strong and Romeo Doubs connected for a third time, this time for a 54-yard touchdown. Doubs now has three touchdown receptions and 118 yards receiving.

11:06 2nd Quarter

Nevada 14, Utah State 9

Romeo Doubs hauled in his second touchdown reception of the game, a three-yard catch to bring a close to an 11-play, 64-yard drive.

End of 1st Quarter

Utah State 9, Nevada 7

A few notes from the opening quarter:

  • The Aggies’ defense played the best it has all season, forcing a turnover on downs, then the safety, followed by a 3-and-out on Nevada’s first three offensive possessions. The Wolfpack were held to only 24 yards rushing.
  • Tackles for loss were a theme for the Aggies, as safety Shaq Bond and linebacker Kevin Meitzenheimer and A.J Vongphachanh each recorded one, none bigger than Vongphachanh’s.
  • Jason Shelley made great use of his legs, carrying the ball 4 times for 41 yards.
  • Justin McGriff’s touchdown reception was the first of his Aggie career. McGriff is a JUCO transfer from ASA College in Miami Fla.

1:38 1st Quarter

Utah State 9, Nevada 7

Nevada quarterback Carson Strong heaved the ball into the end zone on 3rd down, and star receiver Romeo Doubs made the catch for the Wolfpack’s first score of the game.

5:32 1st Quarter

Utah State 9, Nevada 0

Aggie quarterback Jason Shelley found Justin McGriff in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown pass, capping off a 8-play 61-yard drive.

11:12 1st Quarter

Utah State 2, Nevada 0

USU linebacker A.J. Vongphachanh sacked Nevada quarterback Carson Strong in the end zone for a safety, giving the Aggies an early lead.


Pre-game

Here are a few links to stories you may want to read prior to or during the game:

A look inside McKay Stadium:

The Aggies are ready for game No. 3: