Utah State holds off San Diego State in Mountain West opener, 23-17


Shaw Bond returns an interception for a touchdown in Aggies win

SAN DIEGO (ABC4 Sports) –  It didn’t come easy for Utah State in its Mountain West opener against San Diego State, but the Aggies will take the end result nonetheless.

Jaylen Warren rushed for 74 yards and one touchdown, Dominik Eberle kicked three field goals, and Utah State held on for a 23-17 win over the Aztecs late Saturday night at SDCCU Stadium.

This was the Aggies’ first victory over San Diego State since a 31-25 road win on Nov. 25, 1967, snapping a 10-game losing skid.

Jordan Love threw for 293 yards, completing 30 of his 47 pass attempts, to help Utah State (2-1, 1-0 Mountain West) open a 23-3 lead with 10:53 remaining in the third quarter after Eberle kicked his third field goal of the night, a 32-yarder.

The Aztecs (3-0, 0-1) made it interesting in the fourth quarter, though, as quarterback Ryan Agnew threw a pair of touchdown passes – a 25- and 49-yarder, respectively – both of which were on fourth down. The second of the two came with 5:19 remaining, pulling the hosts within 23-17.

SDSU got the ball back one more time on its own 25-yard line with 1:18 to go after Eberle missed a 42-yard field goal. Agnew completed a 14-yard pass on the opening play of the drive, but misfired on his next three attempts before redshirt junior defensive end Justus Te’i slammed the door on the Aztecs for good by sacking the SDSU signal caller for a loss of 37 yards.

Utah State finished with 375 yards of total offense, just three better than SDSU. Agnew was 20-of-37 for 281 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw a costly interception in the first quarter, which was picked off by USU junior safety Shaq Bond and returned 48 yards to the house.

The second pick-six of Bond’s career gave the Aggies a 7-3 lead with six minutes remaining in the opening quarter. Bond finished with eight tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, and a pass breakup.

David Woodward led Utah State with 13 stops, his 11th career double-digit tackle outing. Senior cornerback DJ Williams added a career-best 12 tackles, including 11 of the solo variety.

Tipa Galeai tied his career high with 3.0 tackles for loss for the Aggies, senior cornerback Cameron Haney added a career-high-tying three pass breakups and junior linebacker Kevin Meitzenheimer had nine tackles to match his personal best.

Siaosi Mariner was Love’s favorite target on the night as he caught seven passes for 74 yards. Junior wide receiver Savon Scarver added five receptions for 90 yards, both of which were career highs.

San Diego State took the opening kickoff and ate up more than seven minutes off the clock, but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Matt Araiza to give the hosts a 3-0 lead.

Utah State proceeded to score the next 23 points, beginning with Bond’s pick-six. Field goals of 30 and 29 yards, respectively, by Eberle made it 13-3 with 3:27 to play in the first half, but the Aggies weren’t done putting points on the board.

Utah State forced SDSU to punt late in the half and the Aggies took over on their own 20 with 1:15 remaining on the clock. Seven plays and 80 yards later, USU was in the end zone courtesy of an 11-yard touchdown run by Warren to give the guests a 20-3 lead at the break.

Utah State will return home to host Colorado State for its annual Homecoming game on Saturday, Sept. 28th at 5:30 p.m.

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