Utah State holds on for win at UNLV
USU Athletic Media Relations, Doug Hoffman
Utah State Becomes Bowl Eligible for Third-Straight Season With 28-24 Road Win at UNLV
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Sophomore wide receiver Bruce Natson had two rushing touchdowns, including the game-winner with 3:56 to play, and Utah State’s defense held UNLV out of the end zone with four-straight incompletions from its own 16-yardline in the final minute to cap a hard-fought 28-24 win here Saturday night.
With the win, Utah State improves to 6-4 on the season including a 5-1 mark in the Mountain West, to become bowl eligible for the third-straight year as the Aggies have never played in three-straight bowl games. UNLV falls to 5-5 on the season and 3-3 in league play with the loss.
Utah State also extended its own school record by winning its 11th straight conference road game and its ninth straight win during the month of November. In all, USU has now won 16 of its last 17 league games dating back to 2011.
Natson finished the game with a career-high nine rushes for a career-best 71 yards, including two touchdown runs, to go along with two receptions for 30 yards. Natson entered the game with nine career rushes for 49 yards.
Senior wide receiver Travis Reynolds recorded his third 100-yard receiving game in his last four outings for Utah State as he finished with seven receptions for 129 yards, while fellow senior wide receiver Travis Van Leeuwen added a career-best 112 receiving yards on four receptions.
Freshman quarterback Darell Garretson improved to 3-0 as Utah State’s starter and finished 16-of-28 passing for 288 yards to go along with one touchdown pass, while senior running back Joey DeMartino added 75 rushing yards on 19 carries and his 10th rushing touchdown of the season.
The linebacker tandem of senior Jake Doughty and junior Zach Vigil each recorded 11 tackles for Utah State, as Doughty added a career-high tying 2.5 tackles for loss. Overall, Doughty recorded his sixth double-digit tackle outing of the season and the 10th of his career, while Vigil now has sixth double-digit tackle outings this year and 11 in his career. Senior cornerback Nevin Lawson added four tackles and three passes defended in the game, including his fourth interception of the season and the sixth of his career in the end zone early in the third quarter.
Utah State finished the game with 441 yards of total offense (288 passing, 153 rushing) as compared to 402 yards of total offense for UNLV (252 passing, 150 rushing).
UNLV scored the first points of the game on a 10-yard pass from Caleb Herring to Marcus Sullivan following a Garretson fumble near midfield with 8:23 to play in the opening quarter.
Utah State got on the board on its first play of the second quarter as Garretson threw a 5- yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Shaan Johnson to cap a 13-play, 52 yard drive. For Johnson, it was just his sixth career reception and his first career touchdown.
Following a 29-yard field goal by UNLV, Natson scored his first career rushing touchdown from 13-yards out to give the visitors its first lead of the game with 11:16 to play in the half.Tim Cornett then scored his only touchdown of the night on a 4-yard run with 3:10 left in the half to give the Rebels a 17-14 advantage at the break.
UNLV appeared ready to extend its lead to 10 points early in the third quarter before Lawson intercepted Herring in the end zone and USU eventually regained the lead at 21-17 on a 1-yard run by DeMartino late in the same period.
UNLV reclaimed the lead early in the fourth quarter as it drove 79 yards in 15 plays and took 7:10 off the clock as Herring threw his second touchdown pass of the night, this time to Maika Mataele from 4-yards out.
Utah State’s final scoring drive covered 82 yards in 11 plays and was capped by Natson’s second touchdown rush of the night on a 12 yard scamper to give USU the 28-24 lead.
UNLV’s final drive of the game began at its own 18 and eventually got the ball to the USU 16 before throwing four-straight incomplete passes in the end zone to end the game. During its last drive, UNLV ran 16 plays and went 66 yards in 3:38.
Cornett led the Rebels with 115 rushing yards on 29 carries, while Herring was 17-of-39 passing for 252 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Following its second and final bye week of the season, Utah State will conclude its regular season with back-to-back home games as it hosts Colorado State on Saturday, Nov. 23 and Wyoming on Saturday Nov. 30. USU’s game against the Rams will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network with a 1:30 p.m. (MT) kick.