LOGAN, Utah — Utah State football became bowl eligible for the second-straight year with a 41-7 rout over New Mexico State at Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
USU becomes bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1960 and 1961 seasons, after Saturday’s win put Utah State at 6-2 overall and 2-0 in Western Athletic Conference action. Utah State has now won six of its first eight games of the season for the first time since 1978 when the navy Aggies went 7-2 that year. USU has also now won seven-straight WAC games, its longest conference winning streak since the 1979 and 1980 teams won seven Big West games in a row.
NMSU suffered its sixth-straight loss after opening the season with a win, falling to 1-6 overall and 0-2 in WAC play.
Utah State now leads the all-time series, 29-7, winning the three meetings and six of the last eight match-ups in the sixth-longest series in school history. Saturday’s win also improved USU to 14-3 at Logan.
Sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton was 16-of-26 passing for 257 yards and two TD’s, the first to senior running back Kerwynn Williams on USU’s first play from scrimmage. Williams snared the short pass and scampered through huge holes created by great blocks and darted to the endzone for his career-long reception. Williams ended the day with three catches for 94 yards, while adding 13 carries for 82 yards with a TD.
With his two TD’s on the day, Keeton now has 27 career scoring passes, moving to No. 10 on the USU career TD pass list.
Keeton also rushed seven times for 81 yards with two TD’s, darting 76 yards on the navy Aggies’ first possession of the second quarter to give USU its 21-0 lead, its second one-play scoring drive of the afternoon and a new career-long rush. Keeton added a 9-yard scamper in the third quarter, breaking two tackles and dragging NMSU defenders with him into the endzone.
Senior wide receiver Chuck Jacobs had four catches for 94 yards, with 49 yards coming on a scoring strike from Keeton for the home Aggies’ second TD of the first quarter.
Freshman running back Kelvin Lee and junior quarterback Devonta Glover-Wright had career rushing days. Lee had five carries for 46 yards while Glover-Wright rushed five times for 39 yards, as USU amassed 256 rushing yards with three TD’s.
Utah State also totalled 260 yards through the air, as sophomore quarterback Craig Harrison completed his lone pass of the afternoon for three yards.
Junior linebacker Jake Doughty led the USU defense with 10 tackles, while senior cornerback Will Davis tallied eight stops, including two tackles for loss and also snared his first career interception. Davis’ pick came in the second quarter when NMSU was driving, snaring the pass in the endzone across the middle and returning it 35 yards. Freshman linebacker Kyler Fackrell also had eight tackles and also blocked a New Mexico State field goal attempt, USU’s fourth blocked kick this season.
Utah State connected on two field goals, as sophomore placekicker Nick Diaz boomed a career-long 53-yarder early in the third quarter and added a 48-yarder at the start of the fourth stanza. The 53-yard field goal was USU’s longest since a 56-yarder by Chris Ulinski in 2008, which also came at home against New Mexico State. Diaz’s field goal is tied for the eighth-longest in school history.
Senior wide receiver Cameron Webb added to the special teams’ success with a career-long 44-yard return in the third quarter, setting USU up with the ball in NMSU territory, that Diaz capped with his record book marking field goal. The 44-yarder was the longest for USU since 2007 by Kevin Robinson tallied a 70-yard TD punt return.
NMSU quarterback Andrew Manley was 19-of-37 for 177 yards with one TD and one interception. Manley was also sacked three times by the USU defense. Manley connected with Austin Franklin for a 6-yard TD toss at the 8:15 mark of the third quarter for the visitor’s only score of the afternoon. Franklin finished with eight catches for 84 yards.
Germi Morrison led the NMSU rushing attack with 19 carries for 96 yards.
Davis Cazares posted a game-high 12 tackles and blocked a Diaz field goal attempt in the fourth quarter to pace the visitor’s defense. George Callender added nine tackles.
Williams and Jacobs’ long catch and run scoring plays gave USU the early 14-0 lead as the navy Aggies have now out-scored their opposition, 82-3, in the first quarter.
USU took a 28-0 lead into halftime, as Williams added a 3-yard run with 39 seconds before intermission to improve the northern Aggies to a 144-42 first-half scoring advantage this season. Diaz’s 53-yarder put USU ahead 31-0 before NMSU got on the board with the scoring pass. Keeton’s 9-yard run came with 1:01 to go in the third quarter and Diaz capped the scoring with his 48-yard upright split with 12:13 left in the game.
Utah State heads to San Antonio, Texas for the inaugural meeting with WAC newcomer UTSA on Saturday, Oct. 27 at Noon (MT). The Aggies then return home to host another new league team in Texas State, also meeting for the first time, on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 1 p.m. (MT).
USU football tickets are available by contacting the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum or by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
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