Utah State Blows Out North Texas 52-13 in the New Mexico Bowl
Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018
Love, who earned Offensive MVP honors, ended the season with a school-record 3,567 yards passing, breaking the old mark of 3,373 yards set by Chuckie Keeton in 2012. Love also set a trio of school records for a bowl game with his 362 yards of total offense, 359 yards passing and four touchdown passes.
Utah State (11-2), which tied the school record for most wins in a single season, set a Mountain West record with 618 points scored, breaking the old mark of 608 set by BYU in 2001. The Aggies also accomplished the feat in one less game.
The 52 points scored by Utah State, which racked up 556 yards of total offense – 359 through the air and 197 on the ground – tied the New Mexico Bowl record and set the school record for a bowl game.
Interim head coach Frank Maile gets credit for the win as Utah State played the game with only four full-time coaches, as well as the team’s graduate assistants, on the sideline after former head coach Matt Wells left for Texas Tech, taking many staff members with him.
All season long, though, the Aggies have preached that this is a player-led team and it showed against a Mean Green (9-4) team that many people expected to give Utah State a run for its money in the New Mexico Bowl.
Defensively, Utah State shut down a North Texas offense that lost star quarterback Mason Fine to a hamstring injury early in the game and could never recover as backups Quinn Shanbour and Jason Bean combined to throw four interceptions.
Utah State junior cornerback DJ Williams intercepted two of those passes, which tied a school record in a bowl game. Williams was tabbed the Defensive MVP of the game. Senior safety Aaron Wade and sophomore linebacker David Woodward had the other picks for the Aggies.
Woodward led Utah State with 10 tackles, while senior linebacker Chase Christiansen had eight and Wade had seven.
Tipa Galeai was suspended for the first half after being ejected late in the second half of the Boise State game, but the junior linebacker came out vigorously following intermission. Galeai recorded six tackles, including 3.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks, and forced a fumble.
As has been the case all season long, Utah State’s quick-strike offense opened the game’s scoring as Love threw a 72-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Aaren Vaughns to give the designated hosts a 7-0 lead just 40 seconds into the game.
Vaughns finished the game with two catches – both touchdowns – for 109 yards. He was one of two Utah State receivers to go over the century mark as senior wide receiver Jalen Greene set the school record for a bowl game with 151 yards receiving and one touchdowns on six receptions.
After North Texas tied the game at 7-all on a 2-yard touchdown run by DeAndre Torrey, Utah State proceeded to score 35 unanswered points, opening up a 38-7 lead at halftime.
The final three points in that blitz by the Aggies came off the foot of junior placekicker Dominik Eberle via a 42-yard field goal. Eberle scored 10 points in the game and finished the season with a school-record 141 points, breaking the old standard of 138 set by Robert Turbin in 2011. Eberle also tied the school record for most field goals attempted in a season with 28.
Junior running back Gerold Bright led the Aggies on the ground with 103 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns, while fellow junior running back Darwin Thompson added 93 yards on a career-high 21 carries.
Thompson ended the season with 1,044 yards rushing – the 16th-most in school history – becoming the first Utah State player to rush for 1,000 yards since Joey DeMartino in 2013. Thompson is the 32nd different player in school history to have 1,000 yards in rushing.
This was Utah State’s seventh bowl game in the past eight seasons. The Aggies improved to 5-8 all-time in bowl games and 2-0 in the New Mexico Bowl.
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