The Utah State Aggies are used to being considered the "little brother" in the state of Utah, behind the University of Utah Utes and BYU Cougars. Two years ago, they ended a 17-year drought against BYU that was the beginning of signs that the Aggies were looking to shed that "little brother" label.
Well, Friday night the Aggies took another step toward establishing themselves as a serious in-state program, knocking off Utah in overtime, 27-20.
Don't let the overtime fool you, Utah State was clearly the better team tonight and deserved to win more than the Utes did. Overall, the game was mostly controlled by the Aggies, with the Utes using several big plays to push the game into overtime.
The Aggies came out strong and set the tempo in the first quarter. First came a blocked punt that Utah State recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Then Aggies QB Chuckie Keeton fired a 15-yard touchdown pass to running back Joe Hill right before the end of the first quarter, giving the Aggies a 13-0 lead when the PAT was missed.
Over the next two quarters, the Utes and Aggies were engaged in a defensive battle, with the Utes eventually coming back to tie the game at 13-13 after two Utah State fumbles that killed the Aggies' momentum.
In the fourth quarter, Utah State took the lead on a four-yard touchdown pass from Keeton to tight end Kellen Bartlett. Unfortunately for them, the Utes answered with a 28-yard touchdown pass with just over three minutes left to Kenneth Scott, who had a big game for the Utes. He consistently outjumped the smaller Aggie defensive backs.
The Aggies had to sweat it out at the end of regulation, as their mistake-filled drive gave way to a 52-yard Utah field-goal attempt as time expired. Utah kicker Coleman Petersen failed to convert, sending the game into overtime.
The Aggies were up first, and after a Chuckie Keeton scramble on third down gave Utah State the ball at the 1-yard line, running back Kerwynn Williams punched it in two plays later to give the Aggies a seven-point lead.
The Utes appeared to equalize on their possession when John Hays threw a touchdown pass to tight end Jake Murphy, only to see it called back for offensive pass interference because Murphy pushed off the defender. Two plays later, the Aggies batted down Hays' pass in the end zone, giving Utah State their first win over the Utes since 1997.
It may not have been the prettiest win, but the Aggies used tough defense and a whole lot of determination to beat in-state power Utah for the first time in 15 years, and took another step toward achieving legitimacy as a serious program in the state of Utah.