EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (ABC4 Sports) – In a season filled with roller coater rides, Saturday’s Utah State game may have been the most thrilling.
Ike Larson blocked the potential game-tying extra point with 40 seconds remaining in the game to help the Aggies hold off UConn 34-33 in front of 21,227 fans Saturday afternoon at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field.
The blocked extra point came after the Huskies (0-5) pulled to within one on a 1-yard touchdown run by Jelani Stafford. The TD capped a nine-play, 85-yard drive for the Huskies.
Cooper Legas helped the Aggies (2-3) rally from a 17-0 deficit. The senior quarterback replaced starter McCae Hillstead in the third quarter after the freshman was injured on a late hit.
Legas was 11-of-13 for 204 yards and three touchdowns, including a 52-yarder to receiver Jalen Royals, who had the game of his life, that gave Utah State the lead for good, 31-24 with 12:36 left in the game.
Royals finished with a career-high-tying seven catches for 185 yards and three touchdowns, which were both career highs.
Prior to being hurt, Hillstead was 6-of-11 for 111 yards and one touchdown, to go along with one interception.
This was the third straight game Utah State started slow. Against Air Force, the Aggies trailed 29-0 in the first half, and last week against James Madison, Utah State fell in a 24-0 hole.
But this time, the Aggies were able to complete the comeback.
UConn quarterback TaQuan Roberson was 23-of-32 for 255 yards and one touchdown.
The Huskies jumped out to a two-touchdown advantage early in the second quarter and appeared as if they were going to take a 17-0 lead into the locker room at the half following a 36-yard field goal by Joe McFadden with 37 seconds to go until the break.
However, Utah State had other ideas.
Hillstead threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Colby Bowman with 14 seconds remaining on the clock to pull the Aggies to within 17-7.
Prior to that two-play drive, Utah State had just 22 yards of total offense and one first down.
UConn ran 30 mores plays (47-17) than USU in the first half, had a dozen more first downs (15-3) and more than doubled the Aggies in total yardage (253-97).
The Huskies finished with 473 yards of total offense, while USU, which improved to 3-0 all-time against UConn, amassed 416.
Utah State has the ball inside UConn territory the first two times it touched the ball following an interception by Devin Dye and a 21-yard punt return by Micah Davis.
MJ Tafisi Jr. recorded a career-high-tying 13 tackles for the Aggies, while Anthony Switzer added 10 stops to match his career high. Dye tallied a career-high 10 tackles, to go along with his second interception in as many games.
Utah State is back in action on Saturday, Oct. 7, when the Aggies welcome Colorado State to Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium.