LOGAN, Utah — Darell Garretson threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another score while Zach Vigil tallied a career high 22 tackles, including eight for loss, to help Utah State soar past Air Force for a 34-16 victory on Saturday night.
Hunter Sharp had 164 yards and two touchdowns on 12 receptions for the Aggies (4-2, 1-0 Mountain West) who won their second straight game. Sharp had more than 100 yards receiving for the fourth consecutive game. He is the first USU receiver to accomplish that feat since Kevin Curtis had five consecutive games with more than 100 receiving yards in 2001.
Kale Pearson threw for 169 yards and rushed for 43 more to lead the Falcons (4-2, 1-2 MW) who fell behind early after a mistake filled first half.
The Aggies forced four turnovers during the first and second quarter and scored 10 points directly off those miscues.
Utah State scored on the game’s first play. Sharp hauled in a pass near midfield and raced untouched down the middle of the field for a 75 yard touchdown.
He hauled in his second touchdown catch, a 23-yard grab, to put the Aggies ahead 14-0 less than five minutes into the game. Air Force set up Sharp’s second touchdown with its first turnover. Defensive end Jordan Nielson scooped up the ball after D.J. Johnson fumbled it at the Falcon 43 yard line.
Another fumble cost Air Force points on its next drive. Jalen Davis hit Pearson as he neared the goal line and popped the ball out of his arms before he could break the plane. It resulted in a touchback for the Aggies.
Air Force finally got on the board with a pair of field goals from Will Conan, who hit from 27 and 34 yards to cut Utah State’s lead to 14-6 with 13:13 left in the second quarter.
That’s as close as it got for the Falcons. Utah State forced two more turnovers during the quarter and pulled away before halftime.
Nick Vigil punched it in from eight yards out to put the Aggies ahead 21-6. Vigil then intercepted Nate Romine two plays later to set up a 46-yard field goal from Nick Diaz.
Utah State tacked on a fourth touchdown right before halftime when Garretson scored on a 17-yard keeper to make it 31-6 with 47 seconds remaining in the half.
Air Force finally scored its first touchdown when Shayne Davern plowed into the end zone on an eight yard run to make it 31-13 with 21 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Falcons had a chance to turn momentum completely in their favor early in the fourth. Jacob Onyechi blocked a punt to give Air Force the ball at the Utah State 14 yard line. On the following possession, Troy Timmerman stripped the ball from JoJo Natson and recovered it at the Aggie 45 yard line.
Utah State’s defense limited the potential damage. The Aggies held Air Force to a 22-yard field goal from Conant after the blocked punt, then forced a punt four plays after Natson’s fumble and tacked on a 35-yard field goal to make it 34-16 with 8:15 left.
UTAH ST. 34, AIR FORCE 16
Air Force 3 3 7 3 — 16
Utah St. 14 17 0 3 — 34
USU—Sharp 75 pass from Garretson (Diaz kick), 14:46.
USU—Sharp 23 pass from Garretson (Diaz kick), 11:45.
AFA—FG Conant 27, 3:18.
AFA—FG Conant 34, 13:13.
USU—N.Vigil 8 run (Diaz kick), 4:04.
USU—FG Diaz 46, 3:01.
USU—Garretson 17 run (Diaz kick), :47.
AFA—Davern 8 run (Conant kick), :21.
AFA—FG Conant 22, 12:07.
USU—FG Diaz 35, 8:15.
First downs 18 14
Rushes-yards 51-155 28-77
Passing 224 311
Comp-Att-Int 15-29-2 22-31-0
Return Yards 19 41
Punts-Avg. 5-42.0 6-36.5
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 1-1
Penalties-Yards 4-30 3-43
Time of Possession 32:32 27:28
RUSHING—Air Force, Owens 14-54, Pearson 20-43, Solano 1-24, Davern 4-17, Rushing 2-9, Brown 4-9, Sandor 1-4, Johnson 1-(minus 1), Romine 4-(minus 4). Utah St., Hill 6-27, Garretson 8-24, N.Vigil 5-10, Hall 2-7, Hunt 2-7, Natson 4-2, Sharp 1-0.
PASSING—Air Force, Pearson 9-18-1-169, Romine 6-11-1-55. Utah St., Garretson 20-29-0-298, N.Vigil 2-2-0-13.
RECEIVING—Air Force, Robinette 4-105, Griffin 4-59, Brown 2-25, Lee 2-12, Ludowig 1-12, Barnes 1-6, Galland 1-5. Utah St., Sharp 12-164, Robinson 3-8, Natson 2-39, Weichers 2-26, Hill 1-61, Hunt 1-9, Butler 1-4.