LAS VEGAS (ABC4 Sports) – Utah State may have found its new quarterback.
Jordan Love made his first career start and passed for 316 yards and two touchdowns to lead Utah State to a come-from-behind 52-28 victory over UNLV on Saturday in front of 18,157 fans at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Love finished the game by completing 19-of-27 passes. He also had 42 yards rushing on eight carries, including a 5-yard touchdown run with 6:38 left in the third quarter to give the Aggies the lead for good, 35-28.
Senior running back LaJuan Hunt rushed for 101 yards and three touchdowns as Utah State (4-4, 2-2 Mountain West) rallied back from three separate 14-point deficits in the first half. The Aggies racked up 588 yards of total offense – the third-most this season and 17th-most in school history.
Utah State, which scored 38 unanswered points, gained 323 yards through the air and churned out 265 more on the ground, both of which are the second most this season in a single game. Redshirt sophomore tight end Dax Raymond led the Aggies with five receptions for 41 yards.
Love threw touchdown passes of 70 and 75 yards, respectively, to become the first Aggie signal caller to throw three touchdown passes of 70 or more yards in a season since 2014. His other 70-plus-yarder this year was at Wake Forest, when he found sophomore wide receiver Gerold Bright from 77 yards out.
Furthermore, the last time the Aggies had two 70-yard scoring plays in the same game was in 2012 against New Mexico State.
Savon Scarver, who is a native of Las Vegas, certainly had an enjoyable time playing back in his hometown. After all, the freshman wide receiver finished with 185 all-purpose yards, including a 70-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. He also returned three kickoffs for 108 yards, including a long of 68.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Jordan Nathan also played extremely well as he tallied 184 all-purpose yards – 92 receiving and 92 on a pair of punt returns, including a 70-yarder.
Defensively, junior linebacker Suli Tamaivena led the Aggies with 10 tackles, including 1.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks. It was his fourth consecutive double-digit tackle outing. Senior boundary safety Dallin Leavitt added eight stops and an interception, while junior cornerback Deante Fortenberry had five tackles and a fumble recovery. Junior cornerback Cameron Haney had a career-high three pass breakups, to go along with three tackles.
UNLV (2-5, 1-3), losers of three in a row, finished with 460 yards of total offense. Running back Lexington Thomas had 161 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 19 carries, helping the Rebels amass 375 yards on the ground.
Trailing 14-0 late in the first quarter, Scarver caught his first career touchdown on a 70-yard pass from Love to cut the deficit in half. Hunt scored on a 13-yard touchdown run with 12:51 left in the second, pulling the Aggies to within 21-14 with 12:51 remaining in the quarter.
UNLV went up by 14 again on a 7-yard touchdown run by quarterback Armani Rogers, but Utah State scored a pair of touchdowns less than four minutes apart to pull even. Nathan hauled in a 75-yard touchdown pass from Love to make it 28-21, while Hunt added his second touchdown of the half on a 1-yard run as the Aggies pulled even at 28 with 2:28 left in the quarter.
The two teams went into the locker room deadlocked at 28-all.
After Love’s go-ahead touchdown, Hunt scored on a 30-yard run early in the fourth quarter for his third and final score, while sophomore placekicker Dominik Eberle booted a 24-yard field goal to make it 45-28. Utah State put the exclamation point on the victory with a 7-yard touchdown run by junior running back Justen Hervey with less than a minute to go.
Utah State next hosts Boise State October 28th.