Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl: Utah Aggies beat Oregon Beavers
INGLEWOOD, Calif .– Since last offseason, the 2021 Utah Aggies’ mood has been “getting better and better” every day.
That’s the philosophy of head coach Blake Anderson, and to say the players have embraced that philosophy this season would be an understatement.
They never talked about winning championships or winning bowl games in NFL stadiums, they just defined their vision for one day, one degree at a time.
After so many days and so many degrees, the end of the season was approaching, and the Aggies reached a temperature that can only be called white-hot.
Philosophy marked the schedule of its first Mountain West Conference Championship, and Saturday night, under the bright lights of SoFi Stadium, marked the team with a 24-13 victory over the Oregon Beavers in the first Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, giving the Aggies their 11th win of the season and crowning what has been the best season in school history.
Utah State hadn’t beaten a Power Five opponent in over 10 years before the start of the season, but claimed their second Power Five victory this year on Saturday, something Utah State had never done before.
“This journey began over a year ago under less than ideal circumstances,” Anderson said after the Bowl victory.
“We traveled through the season with most of the football community across the country not expecting much from us, but the squad never bought into that, worked hard… and learned to overcome the challenges. obstacles in almost all situations. “
When quarterback Logan Bonner, who set the Utah State single-season pass distance record early in the game, injured his knee late in the first quarter, the Aggies were again faced an interesting challenge.
With normal replacement Andrew Peasley due to a shoulder injury, it was Cooper Legas’ turn to contribute not only for the first time this season, but the first time in their career.
Legas was pushed into action on a stage that will host the Super Bowl in February, with his team behind by seven points. Not exactly the safest circumstances for a young signalman to see his first game action but, just like his team had been doing all year, Legas stepped in and exceeded everyone’s expectations.
On her first scrum shot, Legas threw a bomb across the field at Deven Thompkins who grabbed her and ran 62 yards for the first touchdown of the game.
The sophomore then led another touchdown on Utah State’s next possession to give the Aggies a 14-10 lead over the Beavers with 4:24 left in the first half.
The Aggies have never given up on that lead.
The young quarterback finished the night 11 on 20 for 171 yards and two touchdowns, and even added a 34-yard double-pass catch that Anderson said was in Bonner’s game plan but turned out to be much better since he ended up being drawn for the much faster Legas.
None of the Aggies were surprised by Legas’ performance. In fact, this is what they expected.
“On the sidelines, when I found out Logan had fallen, I went and grabbed Coop and just said, ‘Time to step up,’” Thompkins said. “Honestly, he didn’t even need (the pep talk). He was ready to go, and it just showed the future he was going to have here as Aggie. I am really proud of him.
Thompkins has certainly done his part to help the young quarterback make plays. The senior wide receiver – who has the option of returning next season if he wishes – ended up being named the offensive MVP after his six catches, 115 yards (his ninth 100-yard game of the year) and one touchdown.
As pleasantly surprising as the Legas game was, the real story of the game was a Utah state defense that found new life in the final two games of the season.
Utah State found themselves a 6.5-point underdog before the game, supposedly because Oregon State and its star running back, BJ Baylor, appeared to be a bad game for an Aggie team who had had struggling to contain the opposing full-backs throughout the season.
It appeared the punters could be on to something early, as the Beavers walked the field in three games (two games with points) and 58 seconds to score the first touchdown on opening possession of the game.
Maybe the defensive magic had worn off?
No, it didn’t.
The opening touchdown would end up being the only time the Beavers found their way into the end zone all night.
The Utah State front kept Baylor to just 80 yards on 18 carries for an average of 4.3 – well below its season average of 5.9 – and kept the Beavers at 4.2 yards per race in total.
One of the highlights of the night was how former Oregon State-to-Utah running back Calvin Tyler Jr. edged Baylor on floor.
Tyler, who Anderson said he played with a chip on his shoulder, finished with 26 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown.
The Beavers’ lack of big running plays allowed the Utah State passing run to take on quarterback Chance Nolan. Suddenly, an Oregon state offensive line that had allowed just 10 sacks all season allowed four on Saturday.
Three of the four sacks were scored by senior Nick Heninger, who was named the game’s defensive MVP. The three-sack performance was the career best for the defensive end, who also finished with a career-high five tackles to a loss.
Heninger was understandably moved after the game, knowing it would be his last time on the pitch as a college football player, but he was also incredibly happy with how he got out.
“We have a relentless and aggressive defensive front,” Heninger said when asked what allowed the defense to exploit an Oregon state offensive line that had been inoperable for most of this period. the season.
“As a defense we were able to capitalize on those opportunities, and it was a 100% team effort. I’m super proud of the defense.
With a 24-13 lead with 2:31 left in the game, Tyler missed what could have been a freezing touchdown in the end zone, which was recovered for a touchdown by the Beavers.
Heninger admitted after the game – much to Anderson’s contempt – that he was somewhat happy when that fumble happened because it meant the defense could have the chance to seal the win.
That’s exactly what Unity did when Hunter Reynolds knocked out Nolan four games later.
A few victory lineups later, and the Aggies found themselves as the first LA Bowl champions and watched Anderson hoist the wrestling-style championship belt (the bowl game’s unique trophy) above his head like a real one. WWE superstar.
“It was an incredible race,” said Anderson. “Start with a Power Five victory, end with a Power Five, conference title victory, 11-3. Best season in Utah State history, and I couldn’t be prouder of the guys who left this behind. legacy behind them.