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AGGIES RESUME MOUNTAIN WEST PLAY AT UNLV SATURDAY
Game will be televised live on CBS Sports Network on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 5 p.m. (MT)
UTAH STATE (3-2, 1-1 MW) vs. UNLV (0-5, 0-1 MW)
Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021 • 5 p.m. (MT) • Las Vegas, Nevada • Allegiant Stadium (65,000)
GAME 6 INFORMATION
TV: CBS Sports Network
• Play-by-Play: John Sadak
• Analyst: Randy Cross
• Xfinity (Utah): Ch. 269/753HD
• DISH: Ch. 158
• DirecTV: Ch. 221
RADIO: Aggie Sports Network
• Play-by-Play: Scott Garrard
• Analyst: Kevin White
• National: XM 386 / SXM App 976
• Online: 1280thezone.com / Tunein.com
SOCIAL MEDIA: #AGGIESALLTHEWAY
• Twitter/Instagram: @USUFootball
• Facebook: USUFootball
• YouTube: UtahStateFootball
• Live Stats: UtahState.Statbroadcast.com
AGGIE RADIO NETWORK
• Every Utah State football game can be heard live on the Aggie Radio Network. Scott Garrard serves as the play-by-play announcer, while former USU quarterback Kevin White (1988-89) will provide color analysis. Games can also be heard on the Internet (www.UtahStateAggies.com) by clicking on the ‘Listen Live’ link, as well as on the TuneIn App.
• Salt Lake City: KZNS (1280 AM/97.5 FM)
• Logan: KBLU-LP (92.3 FM)
• Green River: KRPX (102.7 FM)
• Moab: KRPX (100.3 FM)
• Montpelier, Idaho: KZNS (1450 AM/101.7 FM)
• Orangeville: KRPX (95.9 FM)
• Price: KRPX (95.3 FM)
• Utah State is 38-27 (.585) all-time in the Mountain West, including a 17-14 (.548) road record, and has won 49 of its last 75 (.653) league games dating back to 2011. In fact, USU is 17-10 (.630) in its last 27 MW games and 21-15 (.583) in its last 36 games against all opponents.
• Utah State (38-27) has the third-best record against Mountain West opponents (including championship games) since USU joined the league in 2013. Boise State (55-13) has the best record in the league during that time, while San Diego State (47-18) has the second-best record. UNLV has the 11th-best record (19-44).
• Utah State is 18-7 (.720) against teams from the West Division of the Mountain West, which is the second-best record by any school in the league behind Boise State (21-7). Overall, USU has won nine of its last 12 games against MW West Division opponents, including a 4-0 record against UNLV.
• Utah State ranks among the top 50 teams in the nation in 12 statistical categories, including ranking second in the Mountain West and 14th in the nation in total offense at 491.0 yards per game. USU also ranks 12th in the nation in passing offense (318.6 ypg), sixth in the nation in tackles for loss (8.0 pg), 30th in the nation in punt returns (12.0 ypr) and 45th in the nation in net punting (41.1 ypp).
• Senior WR Deven Thompkins leads the Mountain West and ranks fourth in the nation in receiving (127.8 ypg). Thompkins is also ninth in the nation in receptions (7.6 pg),18th in the nation in all-purpose yards (133.8 ypg) and 35th in the nation in receiving touchdowns with four (0.80 pg). Additionally, graduate senior ILB Justin Rice is seventh in the nation with three interceptions (0.60 pg) and 15th in the nation in tackles (9.4 pg), while graduate senior PK Connor Coles ranks 16th nationally in field goals made (1.6 pg) and 44th in the nation in field goal percentage (.800).
UTAH STATE RESUMES MOUNTAIN WEST PLAY AT UNLV SATURDAY
• Utah State (3-2, 1-1 MW) resumes Mountain West play this weekend with a road game at UNLV (0-5, 0-1 MW) on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 5 p.m. (MT). Both USU and UNLV had a bye last weekend. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network (Xfinity Ch. 269/753HD, DISH Ch. 158, DirecTV Ch. 221) with John Sadak (play-by-play) and Randy Cross (analyst) on the call.
• Utah State is 9-5-1 all-time in known games played on Oct. 16.
LOOKING AT UTAH STATE IN 2021
• Utah State is 3-2 on the season following its 34-20 home loss to 13th-ranked BYU two weekends ago. USU, which is 1-1 in Mountain West play, is led by graduate junior QB Logan Bonner, who is 91-of-157 (.580) passing for 1,235 yards (247.0 ypg) with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Graduate junior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. has rushed for 417 yards on 79 carries (5.3 ypc/83.4 ypg) with four touchdowns. And, senior WR Deven Thompkins has caught 38 passes for 639 yards (16.8 ypr/127.8 ypg) and four touchdowns. Defensively, graduate senior ILB Justin Rice has 47 tackles, which includes 6.0 tackles for loss, to go along with three interceptions and one forced fumble. As a team, USU is averaging 29.2 points and 493.8 yards of total offense (175.2 rushing, 318.6 passing), and allowing 30.6 points and 463.8 yards of total offense (204.0 rushing, 259.8 passing).
UTAH STATE IS 2-0 ON THE ROAD THIS SEASON
• Utah State has played very well during its two road games this year as it posted a 26-23 win at Washington State, for its first road win against a Power 5 opponent since 1971, and a 49-45 win at Mountain West-foe Air Force. In its two road games this year, Utah State is averaging 37.5 points and 534.5 yards of total offense (201 rushing, 333.5 passing), and is 20-of-36 (.556) on third down conversions and 5-of-6 (833) on fourth down. USU is also 7-for-7 in the red zone with five touchdowns and two field goals. Furthermore, Utah State is even in the turnover battle in road games this year with three turnovers and three takeaways and has a 30-10 scoring advantage in the final 15 minutes of those two road games.
AGGIES RALLY FROM THREE DOUBLE-DIGIT DEFICITS TO START SEASON
• Utah State rallied from double-digit deficits to win each of its first three games this season, marking the first time in school history that has happened. In fact, USU overcame a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit in each of its two road wins this season.
• In its 49-45 road win at Air Force, Utah State actually overcame four double-digit deficits to get the win. First, USU trailed 10-0 before taking a 13-10 lead. USU then trailed 24-13 and later 31-20 before taking a 34-31 lead. USU then trailed 45-34 before scoring 15 unanswered points in the final 9:51 for the win.
• In its 48-24 home win against North Dakota, Utah State outscored the Fighting Hawks 41-3 over the final three quarters after trailing 21-7 in the first 15 minutes of play.
• In its 26-23 season-opening road win at Washington State, Utah State overcame a 12-point (23-11) fourth-quarter deficit by scoring 15 unanswered points in the final 5:25 of the game.
• Prior to this season, the last time USU won back-to-back games where it trailed by double digits was in 2011.
UTAH STATE DOMINATING THE FOURTH QUARTER
• Utah State has dominated the fourth quarter this season as it has outscored its opponents 61-30 in the final 15 minutes of games. USU began the year by outscoring Washington State 15-3 in the fourth quarter, then outscored North Dakota 21-0 in the fourth quarter, before outscoring Air Force 15-7 in the final 15 minutes of play. In its last two games, Boise State outscored USU 10-3 in the fourth quarter and BYU outscored the Aggies 10-7 in the final 15 minutes.
UTAH STATE HAVING SUCCESS ON FOURTH DOWN
• Utah State has been very aggressive in its play calling this season and has converted 10-of-16 (.625) fourth downs. Ironically, USU has gone on to score points in each of those 10 drives it converted a fourth down with eight touchdowns and two field goals.
BLAKE ANDERSON NOTABLES
• Utah State first-year head coach Blake Anderson is just the third head coach in school history, and first since E. Lowell Romney in 1919, to win his first three games at Utah State. The only other USU head coach to accomplish this feat was Fred M. Walker, who led USU to a 7-0 record in 1907. Furthermore, Anderson is one of 19 FBS head coaches in their first year at the their current school, and he was one of only two head coaches, along with South Alabama’s Kane Wommack, to start the season 3-0.
AGGIES HAVE ONLY ALLOWED FIVE SCORES FOLLOWING NINE TURNOVERS
• Utah State’s defense has only allowed 23 points (2 TD, 3 FG) following nine Aggie turnovers this season. In fact, one of the touchdowns allowed was on a short field as the opponent forced a fumble at the USU 21-yard line.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Utah State has won 12 straight football games following a bye week dating back to the 2011 season and 10 of those 12 wins have been against league opponents. USU’s last loss following a bye was a 35-34 double overtime home loss to Colorado State in 2011.
• UNLV is 0-5 on the season and 0-1 in Mountain West play following its 24-17 non-conference road loss at UTSA two weekends ago. The Rebels are led by freshman QB Cameron Friel, who is 42-of-65 (.646) passing for 512 yards (170.7 ypg) with one touchdown and three interceptions. Senior RB Charles Williams leads the team in rushing with 219 yards on 47 carries (4.7 ypc/109.5 ypg) with two touchdowns, and junior WR Steve Jenkins has caught 14 passes for 217 yards (15.5 ypr/43.4 ypg) with two touchdowns. Defensively, junior ILB Jacoby Windmon has a team-best 41 tackles, which includes 1.0 sacks and 2.0 tackles for loss, while senior ILB Austin Ajiake has 36 tackles. As a team, UNLV is averaging 18.6 points and 282.4 yards of total offense per game (102.8 rushing, 179.6 passing) and allowing 36.4 points and 453.8 yards of total offense (151.0 passing, 302.8 rushing). UNLV returns 18 starters (O- 8, D-10) and 48 lettermen (O-19, D-26, S-3) from last year’s team that went 0-6 in Mountain West play. Marcus Arroyo is 0-11 in his second season as a collegiate head coach at UNLV.
AGGIES AND REBELS SERIES HISTORY
• Utah State and UNLV will be meeting for the 25th time in series history this weekend, with USU owning a 17-7 advantage, which includes an 8-4 road record. Overall, USU has won 14 of the last 17 games played in the series, including five straight. The first game played in the series was on Sept. 25, 1971, in Logan with USU winning, 27-7. USU won the last meeting between the two teams, 59-28, on Oct. 13, 2018, in Logan. USU also won the last meeting between the two teams in Las Vegas, 52-28, on Oct. 21, 2017. The last time UNLV won a game in the series was on Aug. 30, 2008, in Las Vegas by a final score of 27-17, while its last win in Logan was on Aug. 30, 2007, by a final score of 23-16.
AGGIES AND REBELS SERIES 16TH-MOST PLAYED IN SCHOOL HISTORY
• Utah State and UNLV will be meeting for the 25th time in series history this weekend, which is the 16th-most played series in USU history.
COACHING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN UTAH STATE AND UNLV
• UNLV defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a spent two years at Utah State (2009-10) as the Aggies’ defensive line coach. UNLV offensive line coach TJ Woods spent six years at Utah State (2009-12, 2019-20) as the tight ends and special teams coach (2009-10), and offensive line coach (2011-12, 2019-20).
MORE COACHING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN UTAH STATE AND UNLV
• Former Utah State head football coach Tony Knap (1963-66) spent six years as UNLV’s head coach from 1976-81. In fact, Knap is the longest-tenured UNLV head coach in school history (along with John Robinson) and has the most wins (47) and best winning percentage (.696) all-time at UNLV. During his time at USU, Knap recorded a 25-14-1 record (.638) and ranks second all-time in school history in winning percentage behind John Ralston (.733), and eighth all-time in wins (25).
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN UTAH STATE AND UNLV PLAYERS
• The following are connections between Utah State and UNLV players. USU graduate senior OL Maisen Knight and UNLV junior OL Will Bonkavich both attended Ventura (California) JC. Knight began his collegiate career at Arizona, as did UNLV senior OLB Kylan Wilborn. USU graduate senior DT Marcus Moore and UNLV freshman LB Ose Egbase both attended Crespi HS in Encino, California. USU senior WR Savon Scarver and UNLV sophomore DB Davone Walden Jr. both attended Centennial HS in Las Vegas, Nevada. USU junior DT James Hansen attended Riverside (California) CC, as did UNLV senior ILB Vic Viramontes and senior ILB Kue Olotoa. USU junior DT Hale Motu’apuaka and UNLV freshman WR Kilinahe Mendiola-Jensen both attended Punahou HS in Honolulu, Hawaii. USU junior OL Quazzel White began his collegiate career at TCU, as did UNLV junior DL Adam Plant Jr. and UNLV junior QB Justin Rogers. USU sophomore WR Kyle Van Leeuwen and sophomore ILB Kaleo Neves both attended Timpview HS in Provo, Utah, as did UNLV freshman DL Waisale Muavesi. USU redshirt freshman LS Jacob Garcia attended Servite HS in Anaheim, California, as did UNLV senior OL Clayton Bradley and freshman OL Jeminai Leuta-Ulu. USU freshman OL Jonah Hayes and UNLV sophomore WR Zyell Griffin both attended Evergreen HS in Vancouver, Washington.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Utah State has 38 players in its program from the state of Utah, while UNLV has 13 players on its roster from the state of Nevada.
• Utah State has two players on its roster from the state of Nevada in senior WR Savon Scarver (Las Vegas/Centennial HS) and junior RB Cooper Jones (Elko/Elko HS).
• Utah State is 24-26 (.480) all-time against teams from the state of Nevada with a 17-7 record against UNLV and a 7-19 record against Nevada.
• Blake Anderson is 2-0 against UNLV as a head coach with both of those meetings happening during his time at Arkansas State as the Red Wolves posted a 27-20 home win in 2018 and a 43-17 road win in 2019.
ON THIS DATE IN AGGIE FOOTBALL HISTORY
• Utah State forced a school-record-tying eight turnovers that resulted in 35 points, with five interceptions and three fumbles, in the Aggies’ 52-26 home win against 21st-ranked Boise State on Oct. 16, 2015. In fact, USU forced seven turnovers in the first half alone as it scored 21 points in the final 85 seconds of the second quarter to take a commanding 45-10 lead into the locker room. Sophomore QB Kent Myers was 17-of-24 passing for 157 yards and a career-high-tying three touchdowns, to go along with 63 rushing yards and another touchdown on 14 carries. Senior WR Hunter Sharp had seven receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns, while junior RB Devante Mays rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries as USU had 334 yards of total offense (177 rushing, 157 passing) as compared to 333 total yards for BSU (34 rushing, 299 passing). Junior LB Nick Vigil had 14 tackles, to go along with a forced fumble, while senior LB Kyler Fackrell had 11 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Senior S Marwin Evans also returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown to end the first half.
SERIES NOTABLES BETWEEN UTAH STATE AND UNLV
The following are series notables between Utah State and UNLV dating back to 2004 and encompassing the last nine meetings.
• Utah State has won five straight games played in the series, outscoring UNLV 208-113 (41.6-22.6).
• Utah State has averaged 527.0 yards of offense (338.0 passing, 189.0 rushing) during its five-game winning streak against UNLV.
• The team that has had more yards of total offense has won the last seven meetings in the series.
• The team with fewer turnovers has won six of the last nine meetings in the series.
• The winning team has scored first in five of the past nine meetings, as Utah State is 3-0 in those games and UNLV is 2-4.
• The team that has led at the half has won four of the last five games played in the series.
• The losing team has scored 20 or fewer points in four of the last eight games, while the team with more penalties has won six of the past eight games in the series.
• There has only been one shutout in series history, a 42-0 Utah State road win in 1995.
• Eleven of the 24 games played in the series have been decided by one score.
• Utah State has had a 100-yard receiver in four of the last five meetings, and had two 100-yard receivers in back-to-back games in 2012 and 2013. Overall, USU has had seven 100-yard receivers in the last nine meetings, as compared to three for UNLV.
• Utah State has had two 100-yard rushers and three 300-yard passers in the last nine meetings, as compared to four 100-yard rushers and one 100-yard receiver for UNLV.
• In Utah State’s 35-13 home win in 2012, it had a 400-yard passer, two 100-yard receivers and a 100- yard rusher.
CURRENT AGGIES vs. UNLV
• Utah State has 12 players on its current roster that has played against UNLV, including four that have appeared in multiple games in graduate senior OL Demytrick Ali’ifua, graduate senior WR Jordan Nathan, senior ILB Kevin Meitzenheimer and senior WR Savon Scarver. Nathan started against UNLV in 2017, while Ali’ifua and senior TE Carson Terrell started against the Rebels in 2018.
• Scarver had two receptions for 75 yards and one touchdown in 2017, and two receptions for 64 yards and one touchdown in 2018. Nathan had 184 all-purpose yards in 2017, with 92 receiving yards and 92 punt return yards, including a 70-yarder, both of which are career highs. He also had two receptions for 19 yards and one touchdown in 2018.
• Other Aggies that played against UNLV in 2018 include graduate senior CB Andre Grayson, senior OL Chandler Dolphin, senior S Jarrod Green, senior CB Zahodri Jackson, senior WR Deven Thompkins, junior OL Wade Meacham and junior WR Tim Patrick Jr.
FROM THE RECORDS BOOK
Here is a look at some of the top Utah State individual and team statistical performances against UNLV over the years.
• Guy Kimball was 34-of-57 passing against UNLV in 1984. Those completions are a school record, while the attempts are tied for the most in school history.
• Abu Wilson rushed for 251 yards against UNLV in 1995, the sixth-most in school history.
• Matt Wells, who was a sophomore QB at Utah State at the time, connected on an 85-yard pass to Kevin Alexander against UNLV in 1994, which is tied for the 10th-longest pass play in school history.
• Chuckie Keeton passed for 404 yards against UNLV in 2012, the 13th-most in school history.
• Linebacker Robert Watts had a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown against UNLV in 2004, which ranks as the second-longest interception return in school history.
• Mickey Doyle had a 72-yard punt against UNLV in 1971, the 10th-longest in school history.
• Sean Jones had a 52-yard field goal against UNLV in 1992, tied for the 10th-longest in school history.
• Tony Pennyman had a 92-yard kickoff return against UNLV in 2005, tied for the 17th-longest in school history.
• Kendall Smith had a 77-yard punt return against UNLV in 1987, the 13th-longest in school history.
• Profail Grier rushed for 209 yards against UNLV in 1993, the 18th-most in school history.
• Jordan Love hit Jalen Greene on an 80-yard pass against UNLV in 2018, tied for the 18th-longest pass play in school history.
• Utah State’s 36 completions and 59 pass attempts against UNLV in 1994 are both school records.
• Utah State held UNLV to 83 yards of total offense in 1990, the fourth-fewest in school history.
• Utah State’s 426 passing yards against UNLV in 2012 are the 10th-most in school history.
• Utah State’s 598 yards of total offense against UNLV in 2018 are the 17th-most in school history, while its
588 yards of offense against UNLV in 2017 are the 22nd-most in school history.
• Utah State has had seven 100-yard rushers, five 300-yard passers, and 11 100-yard receivers all-time against UNLV.
• In 24 games in series history, Utah State has scored 215 more points than UNLV, 654-439.
UTAH STATE IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST
• Utah State is 165-188-8 (.467) all-time against current members of the Mountain West with a 40-26-4 record vs. Wyoming, a 35-39-2 record vs. Colorado State, a 17-7 record vs. UNLV, an 18-20-1 record vs. San José State, a 14-13 record vs. New Mexico, a 13-18-1 record vs. Fresno State, a 10-6 record vs. Hawai`i, a 7-19 record vs. Nevada, a 5-21 record vs. Boise State, a 4-6 record vs. Air Force, and a 2-13 record vs. San Diego State.
• Utah State is in its ninth year as a member of the Mountain West in 2020 and has been a Division I-A/Bowl Championship Series football playing school in each of its 123 seasons of competition. USU joined the Mountain States/Skyline Conference in 1938 until 1961. USU then played as a football independent from 1962-77 when the Aggies became members of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association in 1978. The PCAA changed its name to the Big West Conference in 1988. Following the 2000 season, when the Big West no longer sponsored football, USU spent two years as an independent (2001-02) and two years in the Sun Belt Conference (2003-04), before joining the Western Athletic Conference for eight seasons from 2005-12.
LAST MEETING vs. UNLV
LOGAN, Utah – Sophomore QB Jordan Love tied a school record by tossing a career-high five touchdown passes to lead Utah State to a 59-28 Homecoming rout of UNLV on Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.
With the win, the Aggies improved to 5-1 overall (2-0 Mountain West), matching their best start since the 1978 campaign, when that team also opened the season at 5-1.
The Aggies have now scored 40-plus points in each of their last five games and 30-plus points in their first six games this season, both of which are school records. Prior to this current run, USU had never scored 40-plus points in more than three straight games.
Playing into the third quarter, Love completed 17-of-23 passes for 322 yards. He teamed up with four different receivers for the five scores: sophomore Jordan Nathan, senior Jalen Greene, sophomore Savon Scarver and senior Ron’quavion Tarver, who hauled in two touchdown passes on the day.
Sophomore LB David Woodward led Utah State’s defensive effort with a game-best 12 tackles, including 3.0 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss – both career highs. Six different Aggies recorded six stops apiece, while sophomore CB Ja’Marcus Ingram and senior CB Deante Fortenberry each had two pass breakups.
The Aggies, who finished with 598 yards of total offense, blew the game open by scoring 35 unanswered points in span of eight minutes and five seconds between the first and second quarters. The Rebels (2-4, 0-2 MW) opened the game’s scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run by Lexington Thomas with 5:38 left in the first quarter.
It was all Utah State after that, beginning with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Love to Nathan that tied it at 7-all with 3:17 remaining in the first. On the Aggies’ very next series, Love found a wide open Greene down the west sideline for an 80-yard score that put Utah State in front to stay at 14-7.
USU continued to pour it on in the second quarter as Scarver caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Love to make it 21-7. The score came after senior S Jontrell Rocquemore intercepted a pass thrown by UNLV quarterback Max Gilliam.
The Aggies increased their lead to 28-7 with 11:35 remaining in the second quarter when freshman WR Deven Thompkins blocked a UNLV punt, which was scooped up by sophomore S Baron Gajkowski and returned 16 yards for a touchdown. It was the sixth non-offensive touchdown scored by Utah State this season.
Junior RB Darwin Thompson, who rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries, scored on a 7-yard touchdown run to make it 35-7 for the hosts. With just 18 seconds remaining in the half, Tarver hauled in the first of his two touchdown receptions, a 7-yarder from Love.
That duo hooked up again in the third quarter, this time from 29 yards out, to make it 49-14. Tarver finished with four catches for 52 yards, while Greene had a career-high-tying five receptions for a career-best 132 yards.
Redshirt freshman QB Henry Colombi replaced Love late in the third quarter and led the Aggies to a pair of scoring drives in the fourth. Junior PK Dominik Eberle kicked a 24-yard field goal with 3:15 left in the game and Colombi put the exclamation point on the win with a 37-yard touchdown run less than two minutes later. Colombi was 5-of-8 passing for 55 yards, to go along with 41 yards rushing on just two carries. Junior RB Gerold Bright led Utah State’s ground game with 72 yards on 11 carries. The Aggies rushed for 221 yards on the afternoon.
LAST ROAD MEETING vs. UNLV
LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Redshirt freshman QB Jordan Love made his first career start and passed for 316 yards and two touchdowns to lead Utah State to a come-from-behind 52-28 victory over UNLV on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in front of 18,157 fans at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Love finished the game by completing 19-of-27 passes. He also had 42 yards rushing on eight carries, including a 5-yard touchdown run with 6:38 left in the third quarter to give the Aggies the lead for good, 35-28.
Senior RB LaJuan Hunt rushed for 101 yards and three touchdowns as Utah State (4-4, 2-2 Mountain West) rallied back from three separate 14-point deficits in the first half. The Aggies racked up 588 yards of total offense – the third-most this season and 17th-most in school history.
Utah State, which scored 38 unanswered points, gained 323 yards through the air and churned out 265 more on the ground, both of which are the second most in a game this season. Redshirt sophomore TE Dax Raymond led USU with five receptions for 41 yards.
Love threw touchdown passes of 70 and 75 yards, respectively, to become the first Aggie signal caller to throw three touchdown passes of 70 or more yards in a season since 2014. His other 70-plus-yarder this year was at Wake Forest. Furthermore, the last time the Aggies had two 70-yard scoring plays in the same game was in 2012 against New Mexico State.
Freshman WR Savon Scarver, a native of Las Vegas, finished with 185 all-purpose yards, including a 70-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. He also returned three kickoffs for 108 yards, including a long of 68.
Redshirt freshman WR Jordan Nathan tallied 184 all-purpose yards – 92 receiving and 92 on a pair of punt returns, including a 70-yarder.
Defensively, junior LB Suli Tamaivena led the Aggies with 10 tackles, including 1.0 sacks. It was his fourth consecutive double-digit tackle outing. Senior BS Dallin Leavitt added eight stops and an interception, while junior CB Deante Fortenberry had five tackles and a fumble recovery. Sophomore CB Cameron Haney had a career-high three pass breakups, to go along with three tackles, and junior LB Ofa Latu added an interception.
UNLV (2-5, 1-3), losers of three in a row, finished with 460 yards of total offense. Running back Lexington Thomas had 161 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 19 carries, helping the Rebels amass 375 yards on the ground.
Trailing 14-0 late in the first quarter, Scarver caught his first career touchdown on a 70-yard pass from Love to cut the deficit in half. Hunt scored on a 13-yard run with 12:51 left in the second, pulling the Aggies to within 21-14 with 12:51 remaining in the quarter.
UNLV went up by 14 again on a 7-yard touchdown run by quarterback Armani Rogers, but USU scored a pair of touchdowns less than four minutes apart to pull even. Nathan hauled in a 75-yard touchdown pass from Love to make it 28-21, while Hunt added his second touchdown on a 1-yard run as the Aggies pulled even at 28 with 2:28 left in the quarter.
After Love’s go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, Hunt scored on a 30-yard run early in the fourth for his third and final score, while sophomore PK Dominik Eberle booted a 24-yard field goal to make it 45-28. The Aggies put the exclamation point on the victory with a 7-yard touchdown run by junior RB Justen Hervey with less than a minute to go.
GAME 5 RECAP vs. BYU
LOGAN, Utah – Utah State closed out the home non-conference portion of its schedule with a 34-20 home loss to No. 13 BYU on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, on Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium.
The Cougars (5-0) scored the first 10 points of the game and held off every comeback-bid the Aggies (3-2) threw at them.
Graduate junior QB Logan Bonner completed 21-of-41 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with an interception. His 28-yard touchdown pass to senior WR Deven Thompkins pulled the Aggies to within 27-20 with 9:52 to go in the game. Thompkins finished with a career-high-tying nine receptions for 125 yards and the lone touchdown. Overall, it was his third 100-yard receiving game this season and of his career.
Bonner also threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to junior WR Justin McGriff midway through the second quarter to cut BYU’s lead to 17-10. Both teams would score again as BYU took a 24-13 lead into halftime.
BYU outgained USU 466-336, averaging 7.1 yards per play, as the Cougars rushed for 221 yards and passed for 245. Baylor Romney was 15-of-19 passing for 187 yards and a touchdown, while Tyler Allgeier rushed for 218 yards and three touchdowns for the Cougars, including scoring runs of 22 and 59 yards, along with another carry of 67 yards to set up BYU’s final touchdown of the game.
Utah State could never establish its run game against BYU as the Cougars limited the Aggies to a season-low 22 yards rushing on 35 carries. USU also passed for 314 yards as junior QB Andrew Peasley was 5-of-7 for 38 yards with an interception.
Utah State was 11-of-21 on third down and 2-of-3 on fourth down conversions, while BYU went 6-of-12 on its third downs. BYU also finished the game with a slight advantage in time of possession, 31:28 to 28:32, and the Cougars won the turnover battle as the Aggies threw two interceptions, while BYU did not commit a turnover. Both teams also punted four times in the game.
Senior WR Derek Wright had a career-high five receptions for 52 yards, while graduate senior WR Brandon Bowling caught four passes for 60 yards. Sophomore WR Kyle Van Leeuwen also had his best night as an Aggie, as he caught a career-high three passes for a career-best 28 yards.
Senior PK Connor Coles was a perfect 2-for-2 on field goals as he kicked a career-long 52-yarder, to go along with a 45-yarder, as he scored eight points for the Aggies.
Graduate senior DT Marcus Moore had a career-high nine tackles for Utah State, which included a career-high-tying 2.5 tackles for loss. Graduate junior S Hunter Reynolds had his first-career sack and finished the game with eight tackles and one pass breakup. Graduate senior DE Nick Heninger added 1.0 sacks and 2.0 tackles for loss as part of his four tackles to go along with a forced fumble, while senior ILB Kevin Meitzenheimer also had four tackles, which included a career-high 2.0 tackles for loss. Junior DE Byron Vaughns added a season-high five tackles and junior ILB AJ Vongphachanh had a career-best 1.5 tackles for loss as part of his four tackles.
Collectively, Utah State’s defense finished the game with a season-high 11.0 tackles for loss.
HENINGER NOMINATED FOR PAIR OF NATIONAL AWARDS
• Graduate senior DE Nick Heninger has been nominated for a pair of national awards as he is one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award and one of 176 semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy. The Senior CLASS Award is awarded annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete who excels in the Four C’s – classroom, character, community & competition. The William V. Campbell Trophy recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership. It is considered by many to be the “Academic Heisman” and nicknamed as such.
THOMPKINS NOTCHES THIRD 100-YARD RECEIVING GAME OF SEASON
• Senior WR Deven Thompkins recorded the third 100-yard receiving game of the season and his career in his last outing against No. 13 BYU as he tied his career high with nine receptions for 125 yards, which included a 28-yard touchdown.
• Thompkins has caught at least eight passes in four of his five games this season and has over 90 receiving yards in four of his five games this year.
THOMPKINS SETS SCHOOL RECORD
• Senior WR Deven Thompkins is the first player in school history to have back-to-back games with at least 170 receiving yards as he had eight catches for 172 yards against North Dakota (9/10) and nine catches for a career-high 188 yards at Air Force (9/18). The previous record was held by Hunter Sharp, who had 160-plus receiving yards in back-to-back games in 2014. Furthermore, Thompkins is the first Aggie to have at least eight receptions in three-straight games since Kevin Curtis had nine-plus receptions in five straight games in 2001.
• Thompkins is one of only two players in the nation to have multiple catches of at least 70 yards on the season, along with Michigan State’s Jayden Reed. Thompkins had a 75-yard touchdown against North Dakota and a 72-yard touchdown against Air Force.
TYLER POSTS BACK-TO-BACK 100-YARD RUSHING GAMES
• Graduate junior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. posted back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, which are the first two of his career, as he rushed for a career-high 132 yards on a then-career-high 19 carries and tied his career high with two touchdowns against Air Force (9/18), and then rushed for 126 yards on a career-high 20 carries against Boise State (9/25).
• Tyler is the first Aggie to post consecutive 100-yard rushing games since Jaylen Warren did so against Wake Forest and Stony Brook in the first two games of the 2019 season.
RICE NOTCHES CONSECUTIVE DOUBLE-DIGIT TACKLE OUTINGS
• Graduate senior ILB Justin Rice recorded his second-straight double-digit tackle outing with 10 stops against Boise State (9/25) to give him 12 double-digit tackle games in his career. Rice also had 1.5 tackles for loss against BSU.
• Entering the Boise State game, Rice was the reigning back-to-back Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week. Against the Falcons, Rice had a career-high-tying 14 tackles, which included 2.0 tackles for loss, to go along with an interception and forced fumble. His interception was in the end zone and led to a USU touchdown, while his forced fumble was on the Falcons’ last drive of the game to secure the win. Rice was also named the MW Defensive Player of the Week following his performance against North Dakota as he had a career-high two interceptions, to go along with a team-best nine tackles, which included 1.0 tackles for loss.
• Overall, Rice has been named the MW Defensive Player of the Week three times, as he also received the honor at Fresno State in 2019. For his career, Rice has been named the Defensive Player of the Week in his conference four times, as he was honored by the Sun Belt in 2020.
DEFENSIVE NOTABLES FROM BYU GAME
• Graduate senior DT Marcus Moore had a career-high nine tackles, which included a career-high-tying 2.5 tackles for loss. Graduate junior S Hunter Reynolds had eight tackles, including his first-career sack and his first-career pass breakup. Graduate senior ILB Justin Rice had 0.5 tackles for loss to give him 6.0 tackles for loss on the season and 34.5 in his career. Junior DE Byron Vaughns had a season-high five tackles, which included 1.0 tackles for loss to give him 2.5 tackles for loss this season and in his career. Graduate senior DE Nick Heninger had 1.0 sacks and 2.0 tackles for loss to give him 3.0 sacks and 6.0 tackles for loss this season, and 12.0 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss in his career. Heninger also forced his first fumble this season and the fifth of his career. Senior ILB Kevin Meitzenheimer had a career-high 2.0 tackles for loss to give him 10.0 tackles for loss in his career. Junior ILB AJ Vongphachanh had a career-high 1.5 tackles for loss to give him 2.5 tackles for loss this season and 6.0 tackles for loss in his career. Junior DT Hale Motu’apuaka had 0.5 tackles for loss to give him 2.0 tackles for loss on the season and 2.5 tackles for loss in his career.
OFFENSIVE NOTABLES FROM BYU GAME
• Graduate junior QB Logan Bonner had two touchdown passes to give him nine this season and 39 in his career. Junior WR Justin McGriff had his second touchdown of the season and the fourth of his career on a 21-yard reception. Senior WR Derek Wright had a career-high five receptions for 52 yards. Sophomore WR Kyle Van Leeuwen had a career-high three receptions for a career-best 28 yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTABLES FROM BYU GAME
• Graduate senior PK Connor Coles was 2-of-2 on field goals from a career-long 52 yards and from 45 yards. Coles is now 8-of-10 this season and 11-of-13 in his career on field goal attempts, including 1-of-2 this year and 2-of-3 in his career from 40-49 yards, and 1-of-1 this year and in his career from 50+ yards.
UTAH STATE HAS HAD 24 PLAYERS MAKE THEIR AGGIE DEBUT THIS SEASON
• Utah State has had 24 players make their Aggie debut in 2021, while five players have started their first-career game this season.
COLES SCORES CAREER-HIGH 12 POINTS IN NORTH DAKOTA GAME
• Senior PK Connor Coles scored a career-high 12 points as he was 6-for-6 on extra points and 2-of-2 on field goals (26, 37) against North Dakota in the second game of the season.
• Coles was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time in his career following his performance against Washington State in the season opener as he was 3-of-3 on field goals (23, 39, 28) and 1-for-1 on extra points as he scored 10 points against the Cougars. Those three made field goals against WSU are a career high.
SCARVER HAS SIX-CAREER KICKOFF RETURNS FOR TOUCHDOWN
• Senior WR Savon Scarver has returned six kickoffs for touchdowns during his career, which breaks the school record that was previously held by Kevin Robinson (2004-07), who returned four kickoffs for touchdowns during his career.
• Scarver’s six kickoff returns for touchdown are the second-most in Mountain West history, behind San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny (2014-17), who had seven.
• The NCAA record for kickoff returns for touchdowns in a career is seven set by four players (Clemson’s C.J. Spiller (2006-09), Houston’s Tyron Carrier (2008-11), Memphis’ Tony Pollard (2015-18) and Penny), and Scarver’s six kickoff returns for touchdowns is tied with four other players (Tulsa’s Ashlan Davis (2004-05), UCF’s Quincy McDuffie (2009-12), Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert (2010-13) and Duke’s Devon Edwards (2013-16) for the fifth-most in NCAA history.
• Of his six career kickoff returns for touchdowns, three have been from 100 yards, while the others were from 99, 96 and 94 yards, respectively.
FOUR AGGIES PUT ON SCHOLARSHIP THIS FALL
• Utah State head football coach Blake Anderson put four players on scholarship this fall in senior OL Chandler Dolphin, junior RB Pailate Makakona, sophomore DE Addison Trupp and redshirt freshman LS Jacob Garcia.
AGGIES WHO HAVE SERVED LDS CHURCH MISSIONS
• Utah State has 13 players on its 2021 roster who have served missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in graduate senior DE Nick Heninger, junior DT James Hansen, junior OL Wade Meacham, sophomore TE Josh Sterzer, sophomore WR Kyle Van Leeuwen, redshirt freshman DE Mata Hola, freshman ILB McKay Breshears, freshman DT Johnson Hansen, freshman WR Franky Jacobsen, freshman ILB Sione Moa, freshman TE Jackson Rigby, freshman DT Seni Tuiaki and redshirt freshman S Crew Wakley.
AGGIES WHO ARE MARRIED
• Utah State has seven players on its 2021 roster who are married in graduate senior OL Demytrick Ali’ifua, graduate senior DE Nick Heninger, senior WR Derek Wright, sophomore DT Aaron Bredsguard, sophomore TE Josh Sterzer, redshirt freshman OL Cole Motes and redshirt freshman S Crew Wakley.
AGGIES IN OVERTIME
• Utah State is 6-6 all-time in overtime, winning three of its last five. All-time, USU is 4-3 in overtime, 2-2 in double overtime, and 0-1 in triple overtime. USU’s last overtime game was a 26-20 loss against New Mexico State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl on Dec. 29, 2017.
UTAH STATE MILESTONES THAT EQUAL SUCCESS
• Utah State has won 36 of its last 44 games when it has a 100-yard rusher, including a 1-1 record this year, and 39 of its last 45 contests when rushing at least 40 times in a game, including a 1-1 record this year. USU has also won 57 of its last 62 games when scoring at least 30 points, including a 2-0 record this season.
LOOKING AT THE 2021 ROSTER
• Under the direction of first-year head coach Blake Anderson, who is in his eighth year as a collegiate head coach, Utah State football returns 18 starters (O-9, D-9) as part of 44 letterwinners (O-20, D-21, S-3) from last year, which includes 13 Super Seniors. Along with 44 returning lettermen, USU welcomes back 24 more players (O-12, D-9, S-3) that were in the program in 2020, while adding 41 newcomers (O-20, D-20, S-1), 15 of which are four-year transfers. Those 13 ‘Super Seniors’ include: OL Demytrick Ali’ifua, DE Jaylin Bannerman, S Shaq Bond, WR Sean Carter, OLB Cash Gilliam, DE Nick Heninger, RB Devonta’e Henry-Cole, ILB Kevin Meitzenheimer, DT Marcus Moore, WR Jordan Nathan, WR Savon Scarver, TE Carson Terrell and WR Derek Wright.
• Highlighting Utah State’s returners in 2021 are seven players that earned honorable mention all-Mountain West honors a season ago in graduate senior OL Demytrick Ali’ifua, graduate senior S Shaq Bond, graduate senior DE Nick Heninger, graduate senior DT Marcus Moore, senior KOR Savon Scarver, junior ILB AJ Vongphachanh and sophomore P Stephen Kotsanlee. Bond has been named honorable mention all-MW each of the past two seasons, while Scarver was a consensus All-American in 2018 and is the preseason MW Special Teams Player of the Year in 2021.
• Other starters returning for Utah State in 2021 include Henry-Cole, Meitzenheimer, Terrell, Wright, senior OL Alfred Edwards, senior CB Andre Grayson, senior CB Zahodri Jackson, senior WR Deven Thompkins, junior CB Cam Lampkin, junior WR Justin McGriff, junior OL Jacob South, junior S Dominic Tatum and sophomore OL Falepule Alo.
• Utah State welcomes three transfers that earned all-Sun Belt Conference honors at Arkansas State a season ago in graduate senior WR Brandon Bowling, graduate senior ILB Justin Rice and graduate junior QB Logan Bonner. Rice earned first-team all-conference honors at ASU in 2020 and was first-team all-Mountain West at Fresno State in 2019, while Bowling and Bonner both garnered honorable mention all-Sun Belt honors last season for the Red Wolves.
• Utah State has 11 Power 5 transfers on its roster in in graduate senior RB Devonta’e Henry-Cole (Utah), graduate senior DE Nick Heninger (Utah), graduate senior DT Marcus Moore (UCLA), graduate junior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. (Oregon State), graduate senior CB Kyle Mayberry (Kansas), graduate junior DE Phillip Paea (Michigan), graduate junior S Hunter Reynolds (Michigan), junior DE Patrick Joyner Jr. (Miami), junior DE Byron Vaughns (Texas), junior OL Quazzel White (TCU) and redshirt freshman WR Jamie Nance (Nebraska).
UTAH STATE HAS MOST DIVERSE COACHING STAFF IN THE NATION
• Utah State is the only staff in the nation that has minority coaches serving in the roles of offensive coordinator (Anthony Tucker), defensive coordinator (Ephraim Banda) and head strength and conditioning coach (Paul Jackson).
UTAH STATE HAS THE SECOND-YOUNGEST COACHING STAFF IN THE NATION
• Of Utah State’s 10 full-time assistant coaches, four are in their 20s, four are in their 30s and two are in their 40s. The average age of those 10 assistants is 33.7 years, which ranks as the second-youngest staff in the nation behind Old Dominion (32.2).
FIVE FORMER AGGIE PLAYERS ON STAFF
• Utah State head coach Blake Anderson has five former Aggies on his staff in running backs coach Chuckie Keeton (2011-15), tight ends coach DJ Tialavea (2010-13), defensive line coach Al Lapuaho (2011-12), and analysts Austin Albrecht (2014-16) and Jumanne Robertson (2011-12).
AGGIES HAVE NEW COORDINATORS FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT YEAR IN 2021
• Utah State has new offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators for the fourth straight season this fall. In fact, USU has had a different defensive coordinator in each of its last five seasons and a different special teams coordinator in each of its last seven seasons. The last time USU had the same defensive coordinator for multiple years was Todd Orlando (2013-14), while its last special teams coordinator to coach multiple seasons was Dave Ungerer (2013-15). Ironically, USU has had the same offensive coordinator for multiple seasons twice during the past nine seasons with David Yost (2017-18) and Kevin McGiven (2013-14).
• Overall, Utah State is the only FBS school to have new coordinators on offense, defense and special teams in each of the past four seasons.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Utah State defensive coordinator and safeties coach Ephraim Banda was named one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation in January of 2021, by Rivals.com.
• Banda is the only hispanic-latino defensive coordinator in the nation at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level. Overall, Banda is one of 32 hispanic-latino coaches at the FBS level, with six of those serving other coordinator positions.
DID YOU KNOW?
• According to College Football Focus and ESPN, Utah State had the third-most efficient special teams units in the nation in 2020. USU led the Mountain West and was 11th in the nation in punt return defense (1.4 ypr), and was first in the MW and 15th in the nation in kickoff return defense (17.4 ypr). USU was also second in the MW and 15th in the nation with two blocked kicks (1 field goal, 1 punt), third in the MW and 31st in the nation in net punting (40.4 ypp), and fifth in the MW and 20th in the nation in kickoff returns (24.5 ypr).
UTAH STATE 14TH IN THE NATION IN TOTAL OFFENSE
• Utah State is averaging 491.0 yards per game to rank second in the Mountain West and 14th in the nation. USU also ranks third in the MW and 12th in the nation in passing offense (318.6 ypg), third in the MW and 51st in the nation in rushing offense (172.4 ypg), fifth in the MW and 52nd in the nation in sacks allowed with nine (1.8 pg), fifth in the MW and 75th in the nation in passing efficiency (135.7), sixth in the MW and 98th in the nation in completion percentage (.571), and seventh in the MW and 66th in the nation in scoring offense (29.2 ppg).
• Utah State also ranks second in the MW and 22nd in the nation in fumbles lost with two (0.40 pg),
second in the MW and 29th in the nation in passing yards per completion (13.73), third in the MW and 30th in the nation in third down conversions at 45.6 percent (41-of-90), and third in the MW and 43rd in the nation in fourth down conversions at 62.5 percent (10-of-16).
UTAH STATE SIXTH IN THE NATION IN TACKLES FOR LOSS
• Utah State is averaging 8.0 tackles for loss per game to rank third in the Mountain West and sixth in the nation. USU also ranks 10th in the MW and 99th in the nation in scoring defense (30.6 ppg), 10th in the MW in passing defense (259.6 ypg), 11th in the MW and 87th in the nation in pass efficiency defense (141.6), 11th in the MW in sacks with eight (1.60 pg), and 12th in the MW in both rushing defense (204.2 ypg) and total defense (463.8 ypg).
• Utah State also ranks sixth in the MW and 53rd in the nation in fourth down conversions at 50.0 percent (1-of-2), and sixth in the MW and 59th in the nation with four passes intercepted (0.8 pg).
UTAH STATE 30TH IN THE NATION IN KICKOFF RETURN DEFENSE
• Utah State ranks third in the Mountain West and 30th in the nation in kickoff return defense (20.6 ypr), fourth in the MW and 30th in the nation in punt returns (12.0 ypr), fifth in the MW and 45th in the nation in net punting (41.1 ypp), fifth in the MW and 83rd in the nation in punt return defense (8.5 ypr), and 12th in the MW in kickoff returns (15.0 ypr).
UTAH STATE HAS FORCED SIX TURNOVERS ON THE SEASON
• Utah State has forced six turnovers during the first five games of the 2021 season with four interceptions and two fumbles. Overall, USU has forced three or more turnovers in 26 of its last 87 games and has scored 25 defensive touchdowns in its last 96 games.
AGGIES IN THE MOUNTAIN WEST AND NCAA RANKINGS IN 2021
• The following is a look at where current Aggies rank in the Mountain West and in the NCAA in individual categories. Senior WR Deven Thompkins leads the MW and ranks fourth in the nation in receiving (127.8 ypg), leads the MW and is 18th in the nation in all-purpose yards (133.8 ypg), is second in the MW and ninth in the nation in receptions (7.6 pg), second in the MW and 35th in the nation in receiving touchdowns with four (0.80 pg), and sixth in the MW and 72nd in the nation in yards per reception (16.8). Graduate senior ILB Justin Rice leads the MW and is seventh in the nation with three interceptions (0.60 pg), is second in the MW and 15th in the nation in tackles (9.4 pg), sixth in the MW in tackles for loss (1.2 pg), and ninth in the MW in passes defended (1.0 pg). Graduate junior QB Logan Bonner is third in the MW and 31st in the nation in yards per completion (13.6), third in the MW and 57th in the nation in points responsible for (11.2 pg), fourth in the MW and 41st in the nation in passing touchdowns with nine (1.80 pg), fourth in the MW and 70th in the nation in passing efficiency (134.5), fifth in the MW and 32nd in the nation in passing (247.0 ypg), fifth in the MW and 39th in the nation in total offense (254.8 ypg), sixth in the MW and 51st in the nation in completions (18.2 pg), and sixth in the MW and 87th in the nation in completion percentage (.576). Senior PK Connor Coles is fourth in the MW and 16th in the nation in field goals made per game (1.60), fifth in the MW and 44th in the nation in field goal percentage (80.0), and seventh in the MW and 73rd in the nation in scoring (7.6 ppg). Graduate junior RB Calvin Tyler Jr. is fourth in the MW and 42nd in the nation in rushing yards (83.4 ypg), fifth in the MW and 59th in the nation in rushing yards per carry (5.3 ypc), and sixth in the MW and 73rd in the nation in rushing touchdowns with four (0.8 pg). Graduate senior WR Brandon Bowling is sixth in the MW and 53rd in the nation in receiving yards (77.2 ypg), seventh in the MW and 70th in the nation in receiving touchdowns with three (0.60 pg), eighth in the MW and 78th in the nation in receptions (4.8 pg), and eighth in the MW and 93rd in the nation in yards per reception (16.1). Graduate senior DE Nick Heninger is eighth in tackles for loss (1.2 pg). Graduate junior S Monte McGary is ninth in the MW and 39th in the nation in fumbles recovered with one (0.20 pg). Junior CB Michael Anyanwu is ninth in the MW and 39th in the nation in fumbles recovered with one (0.20 pg). And, sophomore P Stephen Kotsanlee is fifth in the MW and 34th in the nation in punting (44.1 ypp). Senior WR Savon Scarver is sixth in the MW and 52nd in the nation in kickoff returns (17.7 ypr).
DID YOU KNOW?
• Utah State has 14 scoring drives this season of at least 10 plays, including a season-long 18-play drive against BYU. By comparison, USU had a total of 13 drives of 10-plus plays the entire 2019 season and three such drives in 2020.
• Utah State has 15 scoring drives of at least 70 yards this season, including a season-long 92-yard drive at Air Force. By comparison, USU had 32 drives of 70-plus yards in 2019 and four in 2020.
SCARVER NAMED PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN AS KICK RETURNER
• Utah State senior KOR Savon Scarver was named an Athlon Sports preseason third-team All-American and a fourth-team preseason All-American by Phil Steele’s Magazine.
• Scarver enters his final season with the Aggies known as one of the top return specialists in the nation having already been named a preseason first-team all-Mountain West selection by Phil Steele’s Magazine and Athlon Sports.
• The native of Las Vegas, Nevada, is Utah State’s all-time record-holder with six-career kickoff returns for touchdown, which is the second-most in Mountain West history, and tied for the fifth-most in NCAA history. Scarver’s next kickoff return for a touchdown will tie four other players for the NCAA record.
• For his career, Scarver has returned 80 kickoffs for 2,294 yards and his 28.7 yards per return average ranks third all-time in school history.
• This past season, Scarver earned honorable mention all-Mountain West honors as he returned 10 kickoffs for 314 yards and one touchdown – a 94-yarder against Fresno State.
• Scarver was also named first-team all-Mountain West as both a sophomore and junior in 2018 and 2019. As a junior, he returned 22 kickoffs for 613 yards and two touchdowns.
• In 2018, Scarver was named a consensus All-American as a returner/all-purpose player as he received first-team All-America honors from two of the five outlets that comprise the NCAA Consensus All-America team, including the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Football Writers Association of America. Scarver also received the Jet Award in 2019 as the nation’s most outstanding return specialist as he led the nation in kickoff returns (33.7 ypr) and tied for second with a pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns.
THIRTEEN AGGIES GARNER PRESEASON RECOGNITION
• Utah State has 13 student-athletes that garnered preseason recognition this fall, highlighted by senior KOR Savon Scarver, who was named a preseason third-team All-American by Athlon Sports and a preseason fourth-team All-American by Phil Steele’s Magazine, along with being a first-team all-Mountain West selection by both publications. Graduate transfer senior ILB Justin Rice was also named first-team all-Mountain West by Phil Steele and to the second team by Athlon Sports. Graduate senior safety Shaq Bond was named to the all-MW third team by both publications, while graduate senior OL Demytrick Ali’ifua and sophomore P Stephen Kotsanlee represented USU on Phil Steele’s third team and the Athlon Sports fourth team. Fellow senior OL Alfred Edwards was named to Athlon Sports third team. Graduate senior DT Marcus Moore, graduate transfer senior CB Kyle Mayberry, senior WR Deven Thompkins and junior ILB AJ Vongphachanh were all selected as fourth-team picks by Phil Steele’s Magazine, while graduate transfer senior WR Brandon Bowling, graduate senior RB Devonta’e Henry-Cole and graduate senior DE Nick Heninger represented Utah State on the Athlon Sports fourth team.
HENINGER NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN
• Utah State graduate senior DE Nick Heninger was named to the 2020-21 Academic All-America Division I second team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Heninger is just the eighth football player in Utah State history to be named an academic All-American, joining USU legend Merlin Olsen (1961), along with Dennis Ferguson (1970), Gary Anderson (1971), Randy Stockham (1974, 1975), Mike Perko (1981), Steve Neeleman (1991) and McKade Brady (2012). Stockham is the only football player in school history to earn the award twice. Heninger earned honorable mention all-MW honors and second-team all-conference honors from ProFootballFocus.com as he finished third on the team with 42 tackles, including 7.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks, to go along with three forced fumbles and one quarterback hurry during the 2020 season. The graduate student from South Jordan, Utah, garnered academic all-MW honors and was one of four student-athletes to receive the USU Whitesides Award as the top student-athlete. He also earned academic all-conference accolades following his first season at Utah State in 2019. Heninger earned his bachelor’s degree from Utah in the business scholars’ program and his master of business administration from Utah State in the spring of 2021. He is currently working on his second bachelor’s degree in unmanned aerial systems, and is a licensed remote pilot under Part 107.
• Utah State has 20 players on its roster that have already received their bachelor’s degree in senior OL Demytrick Ali’ifua, senior DE Jaylin Bannerman, senior S Shaq Bond, junior QB Logan Bonner, senior WR Brandon Bowling, senior WR Sean Carter, senior PK Connor Coles, senior OLB Cash Gilliam, senior CB Andre Grayson, senior DE Nick Heninger, senior RB Devonta’e Henry-Cole, senior OL Maisen Knight, senior CB Kyle Mayberry, junior S Monte McGary, senior DT Marcus Moore, senior WR Jordan Nathan, junior DT Phillip Paea, junior S Hunter Reynolds, senior ILB Justin Rice and junior RB Calvin Tyler Jr.
• Utah State football has a 91 percent Graduation Success Rate, which ranks first in the Mountain West, and a 2.97 cumulative grade-point average.
• Utah State had 54 football players earn academic all-Mountain West honors in 2020, while 15 players were named MW Scholar-Athletes.
HEAD COACH BLAKE ANDERSON
• Blake Anderson (hired on Dec. 12, 2020) is in his first season as Utah State’s head coach and is the 29th head coach in program history. He is 54-37 all-time as a head coach, including a 39-18 conference mark.
• Anderson has 28 years of collegiate coaching experience and has been part of five conference championship teams. He has also coached in 11 bowl games and won a national championship at the junior college level.
• Anderson comes to Utah State after spending the past seven years as the head coach at Arkansas State, leading the Red Wolves to six-consecutive winning seasons and six-straight bowl games from 2014-19, including a 31-13 win against UCF in the 2016 Cure Bowl and a 34-26 win against FIU in the 2019 Camellia Bowl.
• Arkansas State also won back-to-back Sun Belt Conference Championships under Anderson in 2015 and 2016, and competed for another in 2017 in A-State’s regular-season finale that was a de facto championship game.
• During that six-year stretch, the Red Wolves broke 12 school records, including 494.8 yards of total offense per game, 4,106 passing yards and 38 touchdown passes in 2017, 520 points scored and 69 total touchdowns in 2015, and 6,174 yards of total offense and 1,024 total plays in 2014.
• Entering the 2020 season, the Red Wolves had won at least seven games, including at least five league games, every year under Anderson, including a nine-victory campaign in 2015 and eight-win seasons in 2016, 2018 and 2019. In all, Anderson posted a 51-37 (.580) record during his seven seasons at Arkansas State, including a 38-18 (.679) mark in the Sun Belt Conference. Those 51 wins, 40 of which were by double digits, are tied for the third-most in school history.
• The Anderson-led Red Wolves were one of just 20 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs in the nation, including six from the Group of Five, to post a winning record six-consecutive seasons from 2014-19. A-State’s 51 wins under Anderson were tied for the 41st-most in the country during his seven seasons at the helm, while his 38 league wins are the second-most in Sun Belt history.
• Statistically, Arkansas State annually ranked as one of the top offensive teams in the nation under Anderson. In 2020, the Red Wolves led the Sun Belt Conference and ranked 15th nationally in total offense at 489.7 yards per game. ASU also led the Sun Belt in total offense in 2018 (466.2 yards per game), 2017 (494.8 ypg) and 2014 (476.5 ypg), and ranked second in 2015 (438.5 ypg). Furthermore, the 2017 team ranked 10th in the nation in total offense, while the 2018 team was 17th and the 2014 team was 20th nationally.
• As for passing offense, Arkansas State led the Sun Belt Conference and ranked third in the nation in 2020 at 364.4 yards per game. In 2019, the Red Wolves finished second in the conference and 10th in the nation with 312.1 passing yards per game. ASU also led the Sun Belt in passing offense in both 2017 and 2018 with 342.2 and 281.5 passing yards per game, respectively. The 2017 team also ranked fifth nationally in that category, while the 2018 team was 21st in the nation.
• Arkansas State also led the Sun Belt Conference in scoring offense three times under Anderson as the 2017 team averaged 37.8 points per game to rank 13th nationally, while the 2015 team averaged 40.0 points per game to rank 12th in the nation, and the 2014 team averaged 36.7 points per game to rank 18th nationally. In fact, six of Anderson’s seven Red Wolves teams averaged over 30 points per game.
• Overall, each of Anderson’s first six squads at Arkansas State ranked among the top-45 teams in the nation in at least 23 combined offensive, defensive and special teams categories, including the 2018 team that led the nation in punt return defense (-1.9 yards per return), the 2016 team that led the nation in tackles for loss (9.6 per game) and the 2015 squad that led the nation in both defensive touchdowns (8) and passes intercepted (26).
• Along the way, Anderson saw 11 of his players earn all-Sun Belt recognition in 2014, followed by 16 in 2015, 2016 and 2019, and a school-record 18 in 2017. All six seasons combined, Anderson coached 65 different players to 97 all-conference selections – the most in the league over that span.
• Following the 2019 campaign, Anderson received the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award and was named the Grant Teaff Coach of the Year, presented annually by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as he guided the Red Wolves to an 8-5 record and Camellia Bowl championship after his wife, Wendy, passed away prior to the start of the season following a courageous battle with cancer.
• A two-year letterwinner at wide receiver for Sam Houston State from 1990-91, Anderson was named Southland Conference all-academic as a senior. He also played for two years as a quarterback and receiver at Baylor (1988-89) before transferring. Anderson graduated with his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Sam Houston State in 1992. He also attained his master’s degree in sports administration from Eastern New Mexico in 1994.