LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Halloween may have taken place earlier in the week, but Utah State still had a few tricks up its sleeve Saturday afternoon for New Mexico.
The Aggies successfully orchestrated both a fake punt and fake field, the latter resulting in the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, as Utah State scored the final 20 points of the game in a 27-10 drubbing over the Lobos on Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium.
“What a win,” said second-year Utah State head coach Blake Anderson. “You do what you have to – fake punt, fake field goal – and use whatever bullet you’ve got. With the weather like it was going to be today, with as many guys out and as many young guys playing, we felt like we needed every possible opportunity to try to steal a possession here or there. Turned out, it was what we needed. I’m really proud of the guys.”
New Mexico (2-7, 0-5 Mountain West) was leading Utah State (4-5, 3-2 MW) 10-7 with 10:51 remaining in the third quarter when Coles lined up for a 23-yard field goal attempt. Once punter Stephen Kotsanlee fielded the ball, he was little time flipping the ball to Coles, who ran untouched into the end zone from six yards out, putting the Aggies on top 14-10.
“The fake was working really well all week in practice,” Coles said. “I actually asked my special teams coordinator (Nick Paremski), “The hole is not going to be that big on game day, right?” He said, ‘I think it is.’ Calvin Knapp and Alfred Edwards, I wish I could share the points with them because they made it really easy for me. They opened up a massive hole.
“I caught the pitch, looked up and the end zone was there, so I just had to walk it in. I’m really grateful for Alfred and Calvin and coach Paremski. The whole play design was really nice.”
Not only did Coles score his first-career touchdown on the cold and rainy day, but he also booted a pair of field goals from 49 and 27 yards out, respectively, and made good on all three of his extra points.
For Kotsanlee, the native of Melbourne, Australia, also had a trick of his own when he converted a first down on a fake punt as he rushed for 10 yards on a fourth-and-3 play from USU’s own 41-yard line in the second quarter.
Kotsanlee did punt six times on the day for an average of 44.5 yards, including a long of 58. He also had one downed inside the 20-yard line.
Utah State’s defense also found the end zone Saturday when Hunter Reynolds returned a fumble 55 yards for a touchdown, giving the hosts a 27-10 lead with 3:00 left in the game.
Reynolds finished with a game-high 10 tackles as the Aggies limited the Lobos to just 258 yards of total offense – a season low for a Utah State opponent.
“There was a lot of ugly, but it’s the nature of the kind of game it was going to be,” Anderson said. “We made plays that we had to in order to win it, and overcame a tough day. I’m really proud. It gets us one step closer to where we want to be. Hopefully, we can build on it and get some guys back, get some guys healthy and move forward and travel well to Hawai’i this week.”
The Aggies’ lone offensive touchdown came on their opening possession courtesy of a 38-yard pass from quarterback Cooper Legas to wide receiver Terrell Vaughn, making it 7-0.
Legas was 13-of-27 for 149 yards and the one TD as Utah State totaled 280 yards of total offense. Vaughn finished with five catches for 83 yards, while Robert Briggs led the Aggies’ ground game with 82 yards rushing on 19 carries.
The Aggies will make their longest trip of the season, traveling to Honolulu to face Hawai’i on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 9 p.m. (MT).