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JONESBORO, Ark. — Utah State dropped its second game of the season in Darell Garretson’s first start of 2014 as the team’s quarterback with a 21-14 overtime loss at Arkansas State (2-2).
The Aggie defense continued to stand out, but an inability to consistently move the ball on offense sent Utah State to a 2-2 record with only one non-conference game remaining on the schedule — an Oct. 3 bout at BYU.
The scoring unit showed flashes of greatness but was inconsistent in its ability to move the ball on Arkansas State — the No. 91 defense in the country. Utah State finished with more than 400 yards of offense, but only scored two touchdowns.
Garretson only needed one play to score his first touchdown as a starter in 2014. The sophomore found Hunter Sharp for an 81-yard touchdown strike in the first quarter, and the duo would find each other nine times through the remainder of the game for a positive boost.
The biggest complaint of the offense was leaving points on the field, especially in the first half. The Aggies stalled regularly, and no single rusher has stepped up to pace the ground game. Rashad Hall had 56 yards on 10 carries for the Aggies, but his 5.6 yards per carry hardly stands out for a No. 1 running back.
The Aggies’ vaunted defense picked up where it has all season. Linebacker Nick Vigil forced a fumble on one of his first touches in the game, and sophomore safety Devin Centers recorded his third sack of the season on the Red Wolves’ next possession. The Aggie secondary held the Red Wolves’ receiving corps to 68 yards through the air, but Johnston White gashed the team on the ground with 100 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
It’s hard to be perfect, though the Aggies at times looked it by holding big-play receiver J.D. McKissic to 16 yards on two catches. But the defense could have done better against the run with its No. 4-ranked rush D entering the game, and White’s short touchdown run with 4:58 to go looked too easy.
Jake Thompson missed a 45-yard field goal in the second quarter — by no means an easy distance, but a disappointing end to a positive series for Utah State.
Jaron Bentrude had a solid day — when he could get the punt off. But the senior specialist fumbled the snap on an attempted punt in the third quarter that set up Arkansas State’s first touchdown and leveled the game at 7-7.
The Aggies fell to 2-2 on the year, and have one game remaining before beginning Mountain West play and putting their focus on a conference championship. Utah State has a championship-caliber defense, but it needs the offense and special teams to find themselves on the same level.