After Quick Start, Aggies Lose WAC Opener 41-21 To Idaho

Sept. 30, 2006

LOGAN, Utah - Utah State jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter, but gave up 41 consecutive points before adding a final touchdown en route to losing its Western Athletic Conference opener 41-21 to Idaho here Saturday afternoon.

Utah State, which had not scored an offensive touchdown in its first four games, took the opening kickoff and marched 71 yards in 10 plays to put its first offensive points of the year on the board. Marcus Cross capped the drive with a six-yard scoring run at the 11:10 mark.

The Aggies added their second touchdown just three minutes later as they recovered a pooched kickoff at the Idaho 21-yard line. USU needed just five plays to get in the endzone when Leon Jackson hit tight end Jimmy Bohm for a one-yard touchdown pass to give the Aggies a 14-0 lead at the 8:16 mark of the first quarter.

After producing 92 yards in its first 15 plays of the game, the Aggies' next eight drives resulted in five punts, two interceptions and a fumble. In that stretch, USU had four three and outs.

The Aggies did put together an 11-play 66-yard drive midway through the second quarter, but after reaching the Idaho seven-yard line, Jackson's cross field pass intended for Kevin Robinson was picked off by Stanley Franks and returned 98 yards for a Vandal score. Had USU scored on the drive it would have given the Aggies a 21-10 lead, but instead USU found itself behind 17-14.

USU did produce a season high 306 yards, while holding Idaho to an Aggie opponent season-low 316 yards.

Cross ran 16 times for 68 yards, while Jackson completed 16 of 24 attempts for 136 yards and one touchdown. However Jackson threw two interceptions after opening the game by hitting his first seven attempts.

The Vandals scored two defensive touchdowns in the game, as after forcing USU backup quarterback Riley Nelson into a fumble, Jo Artis Ratti returned the ball 74 yards for a score in the fourth quarter. . Nelson, a highly celebrated freshman, made his collegiate debut in the fourth quarter. The former Logan High School standout hit Otis Nelson (no relation) on a 25-yard pass on his first play. He then rushed for eight yards before getting sacked on his third play and fumbling the ball, which was picked out of midair by Ratti.

The Aggies will host Fresno State on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 6:05 p.m.

UTAH STATE POSTGAME NOTES vs. Idaho, Sept. 30, 2006

o - Utah State held its first two-score lead since game four last year against San Jose State when the Aggies led 14-0 just one minute into the second quarter against the Spartans.

O - Two Aggies made their first career starts on defense in DT Alan Bishop and LB Paul Igboeli. Both players are freshmen and it pushed the number of freshmen that have started for USU this year to five.

O - The last time Utah State scored 14 points in the first quarter of a game was Oct. 25, 2003 in the eighth game of that year against Arkansas State (led 21-0 at the break that day).

O - QB Leon Jackson completed his first seven passing attempts.

O - Leon Jackson's 61-yard punt was a season long.

O - LB Paul Igboeli recorded the team's then third sack of the year late in the first quarter (Ben Calderwood had a sack against Arkansas and the team was credited with a sack against BYU last week). USU recorded three sacks against the Vandals, improving its season total to five.

O - LB Jake Hutton did not play due to a foot injury, stopping his team-high tying consecutive starting streak at 15 games. OG Pace Jorgensen, who was tied with Hutton, started for the 16th straight game.

O - With Idaho's first-half interception return for a touchdown, it meant that each of USU's first five interceptions thrown this year were returned for touchdowns. Idaho recorded an interception in the fourth quarter, but did not return it for a score.

o- USU has dropped to 0-5 for the first time since 2001.

o - USU's 305 yards of total offense was a season best (249 at Arkansas). USU also set a season best in passing yards with 186 (previous best was 122 last week at BYU).

O - The 316 yards by Idaho were the fewest allowed by USU since holding Louisiana Tech to just 276 yards in the eighth game of last year.

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Marcus Cross ran for 68 yards and USU's first offensive touchdown of the year.
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