IOWA CITY, IA (ABC4 Sports) – Utah State came into it season-opening game against #25 Iowa as nearly four touchdown underdogs, but the Aggies held their own against the Hawkeyes.

Cooper Legas passed for 213 yards and one touchdown to Terrell Vaughn, but it wasn’t enough, as the Hawkeyes raced out to a 14-0 first quarter lead and held on for the victory.

“As you can imagine, I am frustrated with the outcome,” said USU head coach Blake Anderson. “Clearly we felt that we had a plan in place that if we executed it well, it would give us a chance to win. I’m not much for moral victories, so keeping it close and beating the spread doesn’t fire me up a lot. But, what does is how hard the guys played.”

Vaughn caught a career-high 12 passes for 93 yards, and his 16-yard TD catch with 1:36 to go in the game pulled the Aggies (0-1) to within 24-12. Utah State went for two and got it on a pass from Legas to Rahsul Faison. 

Faison led the Aggies in rushing with 59 yards on seven carries. Following the touchdown and two-point conversion, Utah State attempted an onside kick, but Iowa (1-0) recovered it. 

Legas was 32 of 48 through the air, to go along with 17 yards rushing on seven carries. He threw one interception. 

Cade McNamara completed 17-of-30 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns to help stake the Hawkeyes to a 14-0 lead midway through the first half. 

McNamara, who transferred from Michigan during the offseason, was listed as questionable for the game with a quad injury to his right leg, but following a 54-yard return on the opening kickoff by Kaleb Johnson, the Hawkeyes scored two plays later on a 36-yard touchdown pass from McNamara to Seth Anderson to make it 7-0. 

McNamara threw his second touchdown of the quarter on Iowa’s next series, a 3-yarder to Erick All to give Iowa a 14-0 lead with 7:44 remaining. 

Neither team found the end zone the rest of the half, trading field goals instead. Junior placekicker William Testa got the Aggies on the board with 11:03 to go in the second quarter to make it 14-3, capping a 16-play drive. 

Just before halftime, Drew Stevens split the uprights from 20 yards out to send Iowa into the break with a 17-3 advantage. 

Elliott Nimrod cut the deficit to 17-6 when he drilled the first field goal of his Aggie career, a 45-yarder with 12:02 left in the third quarter. 

The Hawkeyes made it 24-6 with 10:17 remaining in the game on a 3-yard touchdown run by Johnson. 

“If we went out there and started this game over, in the first quarter, if you eliminate five personal fouls, four missed turnover opportunities, a turnover on our part, two missed third-and-ones, and really just us not doing what we’re supposed to be doing, it’s a completely different football game,” Anderson said. “Those are called self-inflicted wounds, uninforced errors. Things that require no talent. Those are the things that we have to find a way to master, and right now we haven’t done a good job of that.”

Luke Lachey was Iowa’s favorite target on the day as he caught seven passes for 73 yards. 

MJ Tafisi Jr. led the Aggies with 12 tackles, while Anthony Switzer and Simeon Harris recorded eight tackles apiece in their respective Utah State debuts. 

The Aggies gained 329 total yards, including 116 on the ground alone, while limiting the Hawkeyes to just 284 yards of total offense. 
Utah State opens the home portion of its schedule on Saturday, Sept. 9, when the Aggies welcome Idaho State to Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.