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USU self-destructs in 2nd half, falls to CSU

October 9, 2016 GMT

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Not even a couple of minutes of the third quarter had elapsed and at least 5,000 of the home team’s fans had exited Hughes Stadium.

They shouldn’t have.

Down 24-10 at halftime, Colorado State scored every point in the second half en route to stunning Utah State 31-24 in a Mountain West football game late Saturday night in front of an announced crowd of 32,387.

The comeback was complete when standout CSU linebacker Kevin Davis picked off a Kent Myers pass at the Rams’ 35-yard line with less than one minute remaining in the game. USU (2-4, 0-3 Mountain West) has now lost three straight games for the first time since 2010 and six road contests in a row dating back to the 2015 campaign.

“It’s hard to get a grasp on (allowing) 21 unanswered points,” a dejected USU head coach Matt Wells said. “We can’t finish a drive off on offense, we can’t play the edge of the defense.

A week ago, USU put together arguably its best defensive performance of the season in a 21-10 loss to now-No. 19 Boise State on the blue turf. The Aggies certainly didn’t get off to a great start defensively against the Rams, though.

CSU tailback Dalyn Dawkins gashed USU for runs of 17 and 20 yards on the game’s first two plays from scrimmage. The Aggies did bow up inside their own 5-yard line and limited the Rams (3-4, 1-1) to a chip shot field goal by Wyatt Bryan.

It took the visitors four plays and less than one minute to answer CSU’s score. Redshirt freshman Gerold Bright scampered through a huge hole, deftly made one defender miss and scored from 41 yards out.

The lead was short-lived, though, as the Rams answered back with a eight-play, 75-yard march that lasted 3:06. For the second time in the drive, Olabisi Johnson burned USU on a deep slant pattern, and the second one resulted in a 19-yard touchdown.

The Aggies retook the lead late in the first quarter after marching 74 yards. Myers found paydirt on a 4-yard read option run one play after completing a well-executed 5-yard play-action pass to Wyatt Houston on third-and-two.

USU needed less than 14 minutes to score more points than it did against BSU.

Myers continued to make the right decision on read-option plays the next time the Aggies got the ball. The junior fooled the CSU defense for a 15-yard TD jaunt, giving USU a 21-10 advantage early in the second quarter.

After its shaky start, USU’s defense got the done job the remainder of the opening half. The Aggies stopped the Rams twice on fourth down — the first time at the USU 40 on a big hit by linebacker Leki Uasike when CSU only needed one yard.

The Rams torched the Aggies for 166 total yards in the first quarter. CSU only finished with 69 total yards in the second quarter, however.

The Aggies made it 17 unanswered points on a 36-yard field goal by Brock Warren with 1:09 left in the second quarter.

USU racked up 278 yards of total offense in the first half, including 174 yards on 22 rushing attempts. It was a far cry from a week ago, when the Aggies only gained 71 yards on 25 carries.

“The last two weeks I was personally mad and the O-line, they were upset that we didn’t establish the run and get it going the last two weeks,” said USU tailback Tonny Lindsey, who rushed for a career-high 137 yards on 17 carries. “I think I had 20 rushing yards the last two weeks, so we wanted to make a statement tonight.”

Unfortunately for the Aggies, momentum didn’t carry over into the second half. CSU needed less than three minutes to make it a one-possession game.

Once again, the Aggies did a poor job covering the slant, and Michael Gallup made them pay for a 60-yard catch and run to the house.

USU’s defense was rock solid the next two possessions, but the offense failed to take advantage. CSU then used a short field to march 46 yards and pull even at 24-24.

Izzy Matthews powered his way in from 1-yard out with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The TD was set up by a 20-yard reception on a third-and-14 play inside the USU 5.

Simply put, it was a bad third quarter for the Aggies, and against a team that had been outscored 41-13 in quarter No. 3 in its previous five games.

Things didn’t get any better for the visitors at the beginning of the fourth quarter as the hosts only needed four plays to take the lead. Matthews smashed the Aggies for a 10-yard TD run up the middle. Dawkins set up the go-ahead TD with a 56-yard scamper down CSU’s sideline.

Backup quarterback Nick Stevens replaced starting signal caller Collin Hill after Hill was injured on a 19-yard run in the third quarter. Stevens was in the game for CSU’s final two TDs.

However, it was CSU’s rushing attack that ultimately spearheaded the comeback. The Rams finished with 224 yards on 47 carries and amassed 464 total yards — the most the Aggies have allowed this season.

Myers ended up completing 19 of 34 passes for 210 yards. The junior added 50 yards on 15 carries, but was sacked four times — plays that resulted in minus-38 yards.

Rayshad Lewis had another big game for the Aggies as he hauled in nine receptions for a career-best 99 yards.

Jontrell Rocquemore led the visitors with a career-high 10 tackles, while nose guard Travis added a career-best nine stops, including 2.0 for a loss.