LOS ANGELES (ABC4 Sports) – The dream season is now complete at Utah State.
Third string quarterback Cooper Legas replaced an injured Logan Bonner and threw two touchdown passes, as the Aggies knocked off Oregon State in the inaugural Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, 24-13.
Former Oregon State running back Calvin Tyler Jr. ran for 120 yards and a score as the Mountain West Conference champions capped an incredible turnaround with its 11th win of the season.
Legas came in when starter Logan Bonner suffered a knee injury during the first quarter. Andrew Peasley was Bonner’s backup throughout the season, but was ruled out prior to kickoff.
With the first pass of his college career, Legas hit Deven Thompkins for a 62-yard touchdown. Legas is believed to be the only quarterback in the last 25 years to throw a touchdown in a bowl game with his first collegiate pass.
“I mean I just went out there and I practice all year long just like everybody else, so I’ve been knowing what to look for all year,” said Lega, a former Orem High star. “We went out, they gave us the look to check it so I just did what I’ve been practicing and it worked out.”BYU and Utah State Bowl Game Preview Show
“It’s been all season,” said head coach Blake Anderson. “I mean coming off a 1-5 [season] and nobody giving these guys a chance and just keep working. This is just a story of us, a third string quarterback comes in and plays lights out to get the win.”
Legas’ only action this season was late in the New Mexico game. The sophomore’s first collegiate pass couldn’t have gone any better when he connected with Deven Thompkins on a 62-yard touchdown strike to tie it at 7.
Thompkins got a couple steps on Beavers defensive back Jaydon Grant, hauled it in at the Oregon State 25 and was gone to the end zone. Thompson, who already has the Utah State record for most receiving yards in a season, had six receptions for 115 yards and set a single-season school record with 102 catches.
Legas also had a 5-yard scoring toss to Brandon Bowling with under four minutes remaining in the third quarter to extend the Aggies lead to 24-13.
“It was a checked play by him at the line of scrimmage based off the look that he saw,” Anderson said. “That is probably the first time he’s checked, physically check to that particular play, and it came at the most critical time for us. ‘Nothing really changed with the system today when he went in. We stayed true to form, we stayed with the plan, and just put him in a position where hopefully guys could take the heavy lifting off of him. But he exceeded every expectation I had of what he could do.”Aggies dominate Aztecs to win first Mountain West Championship, 46-13
Thompkins had confidence Legas would be able to step up and lead the Aggies to victory.
‘I told all the wide receivers we got to help Coop, just build that confidence, play good,” he said. “And, honestly, he didn’t even need it. “He was ready to go, and it showed the future he’s going to have here as a Utah State Aggie so I’m definitely proud of him.”
Legas completed 11 of 20 passes for 171 yards and an interception. He also had a 34-yard reception on a double pass from Derek Wright.
After giving up a touchdown on Oregon State’s opening drive, the Aggies defense shut the Beavers down the rest of the way, giving up just two field goals.
Nick Heninger was named the Defensive MVP as the senior defensive end had seven tackles, including 5.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. Justin Rice had a forced fumble and Hunter Reynolds had an interception to seal the victory in the final minutes.
The Aggies (11-3) tied the school record for most wins in a season with 11, joining the 2012 and 2018 teams which finished 11-2.
“I came from a Pac-12 team, University of Utah,” Heninger said. “And knowing that San Diego State had beat Utah and Oregon State had beat Utah, I kind of had a little extra motivation. “I like to think it doesn’t matter who we play. We’re going to go out there and we’re gonna put our best on the line.”
Tyler, who was at Oregon State for four years before transferring, scored what ended up being the go-ahead touchdown on a 15-yard run with 4:24 remaining in the second quarter to give Utah State a 14-10 advantage.
Oregon State received the opening kickoff and scored 58 seconds into the game when Jesiah Irish went 20 yards up the left sideline on a jet sweep. That would prove to be the Beavers only touchdown though as its other points came on a pair of field goals by Everett Hayes.
Chance Nolan was 21 of 30 for 263 yards and an interception while B.J. Baylor, who led the Pac-12 in rushing, had 18 carries for 78 yards.
Utah State was 8-0 away from home this season, and 2-0 against the Pac-12. The Aggies opened the season with a victory at Washington State.