The Utah Utes entered into Friday night’s game with in-state rival Utah State on a very good note. The team beat Michigan in Jim Harbaugh’s debut as a head coach last Thursday and they were looking to keep that momentum going.
The Aggies struggled with FCS team Southern Utah in their opener, but they had their high points especially on their special teams. They needed to use all of their weapons to stick with the PAC-12 power, but they couldn’t get the job done despite having a decent performance from a healthy Chuckie Keeton.
The Utes opened up their game with quarterback Travis Wilson moving his team down the field. The Utes had a short third down situation from the Aggies’ 12 when Wilson faked out everyone, even the cameraman, on a read option play to scoot into the endzone for the early 7-0 lead.
The two teams battled back and forth for most of the first half as both defenses played very well. The Aggies finally caught a lucky break midway through the second quarter. Keeton looked for Devonte Robinson down the right sideline who went up and made an amazing grab on second and long.
The Aggies translated that into points as Keeton found LaJuan Hunt for an eight yard strike to tie the game. The Utes seemed to be in trouble when Wilson went down with an apparent arm injury as they were driving down the field. Despite that, running back Devontae Booker found his way into the endzone to give his team the lead late in the first half.
Wilson left the field and went into the locker room. Fans would not see him again until the third quarter when he was seen out of uniform with an ice pack on his shoulder and a sling around his neck cradling his left arm.
The Aggies made one more push late in the second quarter. Keeton was faced with a third and long situation when he found wide receiver Zach Van Leeuwen from fifteen yards out to tie the game at the half.
The second half was a lot more of the same when it comes to defensive play. The game remained tied midway through the third when backup quarterback Kendal Thompson gave the Utes the 21-14 lead with a two-yard run for the touchdown.
There would be no more scoring for the rest of the game aside from a 37-yard field goal for the Utes by Randy Phillips. The Utes defense came up big in the fourth quarter as they forced two turnovers. One of those was an interception by Justin Thomas, who sealed the deal against the Wolverines last week with a pick-six.
Booker had a huge night for the Utes as he rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown. Keeton had a good showing for the Aggies with 256 yards and two touchdowns, but it was his two interceptions that kept his team out of the game near the end.
Both of these teams looked very impressive defensively, but it will be interesting to see where the Utes go from here as they inch closer to PAC-12 play as it looks like Wilson could miss some significant time over the next few weeks.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports