Utah State routs Toledo 41-15 in Idaho Potato Bowl

Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams was having a quiet day

when things took a turn for the worse in the fourth quarter when he

fumbled deep in his own territory.

As it has all season, the Aggies’ defense did its job, holding

Toledo to a field goal that cut the lead to 13-9 with 7:28 to go.

Then Williams atoned for his mistake – in a big way.

On the next possession, Williams broke through the defense and

raced 63 yards for a touchdown. On the next two possessions, the

senior was unstoppable, ripping off a 56-yard run and scoring TDs

on runs of 5 and 25 yards, all within a span of less than 4 minutes

to lift No. 18 Utah State to a 41-15 victory over Toledo in the

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Saturday.

”When stuff like that happens you have to have a short

memory,” Williams said about the fumble. ”You can’t change it. I

just knew the next opportunity for me, I needed to make a big

play.”

Williams’ fourth-quarter spree fueled a 28-point Aggies scoring

burst that turned a close game into a blowout. Williams finished

with a career-best 235 yards rushing on 18 carries, with 182 of

those yards coming on six carries in the fourth quarter, and was

voted MVP.

Williams’ heroics also capped the most successful season in the

history of Utah State football. The Aggies finished 11-2, won the

Western Athletic Conference title outright and won a bowl game for

the first time since 1993. Utah State also will likely finish

ranked for the first time since 1961.

”You play in bowls to win championships, and they did that

today,” said Aggies coach Gary Andersen, who in four years has

turned a Western Athletic Conference doormat into the top team of a

conference soon to be obsolete. ”They (team) reached every single

goal they set last January. That doesn’t happen often in life or

often in football. I’m very, very proud of them.”

The Aggies, bolstered all year by one of the best defenses in

FBS, rolled up 582 yards total yards on offense.

Quarterback Chuckie Keeton was 21-of-31 passing for 229 yards

and 92 yards rushing, including a 62-yard dash that put Utah State

up 7-3 in the first quarter.

The defense also turned in another impressive performance.

Toledo (9-4) was able to move the ball at times and made five trips

inside the red zone. But penalties, miscues and an inability to

execute on critical plays forced the Rockets to settle for three

Jeremiah Detmer field goals. Detmer hit a pair from 37 yards out

and another from 29, closing his season by making 17 straight.

Toledo’s only touchdown came when Bernard Reedy returned a

fourth-quarter kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown. Reedy was the only

big producer on a Toledo offense held to 315 total yards. Reedy had

51 yards rushing and caught six passes for 62 yards.

”When they got down in the red zone, they scored touchdowns.

When we got down into the red zone we kicked field goals,”

first-year Toledo coach Matt Campbell said. ”In big football games

you have to win details.”

Toledo quarterback Austin Dantin, who started in place of the

injured Terrence Owens, was 12 of 21 passing for 132 yards. Dantin

threw an interception in the third quarter to end a promising

scoring drive and was replaced by Owens in the fourth quarter.

Owens moved the Rockets on his first possession, but another

red-zone opportunity was squelched when the Aggies snuffed Owens

for no gain on a fourth-and-1 play from the 9.

Toledo also was forced to adjust early without two of its best

players. Linebacker Dan Molls, the nation’s leading tackler, had a

concussion on the opening kickoff and didn’t return. Minutes later,

running back David Fluellen, the nation’s eighth-leading rusher,

went down with an ankle injury. He finished with 38 yards on seven

carries.

Campbell refused to use the injuries to Moll and Fluellen as an

excuse and pointed out the game was close until the final 7 1/2

minutes.

”Injuries happen, they occur, you have to have the ability to

adapt and you have to have the ability to move on,” he said. ”We

were still in the game in the fourth quarter. I’m really proud of

our football team from that standpoint.”