Utah State holds off Colorado State on late missed field goal, 26-24

Sports

Utah State’s Shaq Bond (4) and Hunter Reynolds celebrate after Colorado State missed a potential game-winning field goal, next to Colorado State’s Brian Polendey (88) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP)

LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – While Colorado State had trouble with a potential game-winning field goal, Utah State’s kicker had no problems at all Friday night.

Connor Coles kicked a career-best four field goals, including a 34-yarder to give Utah State a two-score lead with five minutes left, and the Aggies held off Colorado State 26-24 on Friday night.

“What a game,” said Utah State head coach Blake Andereson. “Really good football team. Our guys accepted the challenge and did a lot of really good things. All three phases made huge plays when we needed them the most. I’d have loved to see us get some more points on the board there late and put this thing out of reach so it didn’t have to be quite so entertaining at the end, but great team win against a really good football team. I’m proud of our guys. They’re killing me, beyond stressful, but making me beyond proud as well.”

Coles was a perfect four-for-four on the night with kicks of 45, 30, 42 and 34 yards, his last giving the Aggies (5-2, 3-1 Mountain West) a 26-17 lead. It was quite a turn of fate for Coles, who missed all three of his attempts last week against UNLV.

“I feel really good,” said Coles. “I’m extremely grateful to my coaches and my teammates for sticking with me through last week. There was nobody telling me how bad I did against UNLV. I think they knew that I knew I needed to do better. They trust me that I would be better and I did everything I could this week to not let the team down again. I’m really happy I was able to perform and help us win this game.”

With Utah State leading 26-14 in the fourth quarter, the Rams did not go away. Colorado State needed just five plays to march 73 yards, capped by a 13-yard touchdown from Todd Centeio pass to Gary Williams, cutting the deficit to 26-24 with 3:31 left. 

Utah State had the opportunity to run the clock out, but after gaining one first down, the Rams forced the Aggies to punt the ball back to them. 

Colorado State took over on its own 15-yard line and following three straight completions from Centeio, the Rams were on the Aggies’ 39-yard line. On third-and-10 from the 39, Centeio completed a 15-yard pass to Ty McCullouch and it appeared as if CSU was going to ruin Utah State’s Homecoming. 

Centeio could have spiked the ball to stop the clock after the first down completion, and Cayden Camper could have calmly attempted the potential game-winner. But as players chaotically ran off the field thinking the clock was going to start winding down, Camper rushed his attempt and missed with one second remaining.

“I thought they were going to spike it,” Anderson said. “Everybody has their own strategy. I had a timeout to use, I was trying to see what they were doing. There was some miscommunication there and it played into our favor. I was really thinking was ‘How did we let these guys get down there?’ That’s what I was really thinking. You get one sack, the clock’s going to run, or one tackle in bounds. They did a great job to put themselves in that position, you’ve got to give them credit. I expected them to kill it and put the field goal team on the field. They’ve got a field goal kicker, so I was really concerned. It happened so fast it was almost like it didn’t happen. It was a little bit of a blur.”

Utah State started hot with Luke Bonner, 233 yards passing, hooking up with Derek Wright on a pair of touchdown strikes, including an over-the-shoulder catch for a 38-yard touchdown. Deven Thompkins made six catches for 104 yards — his seventh 100-yard game of the season.

Bonner endured eight sacks — a season high for the Colorado State defense — for a loss of 52 yards, had four passes broken up and was intercepted once.

The Aggies (5-2, 3-1) move into first place in the Mountain Division of the conference.

“It gets more stressful every week,” Wright said. “We have the potential to be really good. This game was the first time all season that we’ve had the lead going into halftime. Obviously we played a better first half than we have in the past, but then we didn’t play the second half that we have in the past. That’s what is something to look forward to. Once we can put a full, complete game together, we’re going to be really good.”

David Bailey ran for a pair of short touchdowns for Colorado State, and gained 159 yards on 30 carries.

Colorado State, which had a season-high 13 tackles for loss, outgained Utah State 472-344. Shaq Bond led the Aggies with 11 tackles, while Ajani Carter intercepted his second pass of the season, and Michael Anyanwu had five tackles, forced a fumble and recovered a pooch kick by the Aggies that led to a Coles field goal. 

Utah State next hosts Hawaii October 30th at 1:00 p.m.

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