At halftime, life looked rather promising for quarterback Chuckie Keeton and the Utah State football team. Trailing 17-10, the Aggies were trucking right along after Keeton got off a pass in the face of a hungry Washington pass rush, firing a bullet into wide receiver Hunter Sharp, who but for the sake of a miracle shoestring tackle missed reaching the end zone by–that much.
A behemoth 300-pound defensive lineman did the rest of the dirty work for Utah State, plowing ahead for the half-yard it needed to pull to within seven points of Washington in the second quarter. Keeton had again breathed life into a lifeless Aggie offense–even while he was on life support.
Maybe everyone failed to notice Keeton was limping pretty badly because he hadn’t technically been sacked yet. Or, maybe they did notice. Either way, Washington’s physical front seven would knock Keeton down–then pick him back up like gentlemen Saturday afternoon en route to Utah State losing the game 31-17.
Such gentlemen were head coach Chris Petersen’s men, from start to finish, that they blasted Keeton off his Nike cleats as if he were being shot backwards out of a cannon about every other play–then helped the senior’s crinkly, well worn bones back up off the Husky Stadium turf for another try at the kid from Houston
So Boise State-like were the Huskies that a busted screen pass turned into an 81-yard touchdown down the left sideline and a field goal try quickly became a designed sprint to the pylon for six more. So went the first 14 points for the Huskies, a margin they were soon to double–much to the dismay of Utah State.
The culprit? Turnovers, the one facet of the game that Utah State head coach Matt Wells hates. Heck, that any coach despises. Because despite the fact that the Aggies were within striking distance of Washington, they lose 31-17. Lose by 10 at Utah, lose by 14 at Washington the next week.
And you can blame turnovers for both. Utah State actually went for the big score on the first play in the second half–and didn’t–coming up snake eyes on the roll of the dice.
“Maybe a little deflating. But I think it was a third and long, we were taking a shot against a coverage that we liked and when it was a pick a lot of times it is just as good as a punt,” said USU head coach Matt Wells. “That’s how you justify it. But, we got ourselves in a third and ten.”
After that gamble by Wells, the Aggies gave up another long play on a busted route. Then Keeton–who only threw for 171 yards on 17 of 32 pass completions–threw an interception when Utah State was threatening early in the fourth quarter, only to have it returned 96 yards before the Huskies sped through the doggie door and into daylight with a two touchdown win.
A much needed bye week awaits Utah State, who managed–barely–to keep Keeton upright for the second straight game. Then Colorado State comes to Logan in a battle of two 1-2 teams looking for redemption.