SUU coach looking at silver lining in 53-34 loss to Utah St

SUU coach looking at silver lining in 53-34 loss to Utah St

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LOGAN -- Aggie junior quarterback Diondre Borel and sophomore running back Robert Turbin led Utah State to 604 yards of total offense and a 53-34 victory over SUU Saturday night in Logan.

Turbin eclipsed the century mark in both rushing and receiving, gaining 104 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries to go with four catches for 116 yards and two more touchdowns, while Borel completed 15 of 21 passes for 316 yards and three scores.


Junior running back Michael Smith also had 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the Aggies, making the most of his eight carries.

SUU football coach Ed Lamb said the Aggies speed and energy on offense was a big factor in the game.

"We didn't stop them on defense," he said. "Obviously, that was the problem in the game. We didn't have enough speed on the field to stay with them and then when we put our speed guys in, we weren't able to physically stand toe-to-toe with them. They've got an outstanding offense and they played with a lot of energy on offense, a lot of speed, and their coaches do a great job of getting the ball in the right guy's hands."

The Aggies were able to pick up big chunks of yardage frequently against the T-Birds as six of their seven total touchdowns were on plays of more than 20 yards.

"Those plays that busted, against most teams that we play, those plays don't bust for that far," Lamb said. "The big plays in a lot of games turn into 15 or 20 yarders and against these guys, they were able to outrun our secondary and turn them into touchdowns."

After a slow start in the first quarter, the T-Birds had a good second quarter offensively with senior quarterback Cade Cooper completing 14 of 20 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns and junior wide receiver Fesi Sitake catching seven passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns in the frame alone, including one 14 seconds before half time, to pull SUU within one score at 31-24 at intermission.

"We had to start slinging," freshman wide receiver Mitch Jessop said. "The running game wasn't working at first." The Aggies scored on their first drive of the second half, allowing them to key in more on SUU's passing game.

As a result, Cooper completed only four passes in 18 second-half attempts. The T-Birds did run the ball well in the second half, gaining 88 yards on 19 carries to finish with 105 yards for the game, but the score didn't allow them to "keep hammering it," Lamb said.

Cooper said the offense executed poorly at times during the second half.

"We came out and had great success and your dropped balls to your bad balls; just a combination of everything."

The T-Birds were able to stay within striking distance until a 69-yard pass from Borel to sophomore wide receiver Stanley Morrison gave the Aggies a 51-34 lead with 11:39 left. From there, the T-Birds fell apart, throwing two interceptions, one by Cooper and another by freshman quarterback Ammon Olsen, and being sacked for a safety.

Aggie miscues helped keep the T-Birds close through the first three quarters. They fumbled seven times in the game, with the T-Birds recovering three.

The T-Birds' special teams created all three turnovers; a first-quarter fumbled punt return by Aggie senior cornerback Kejon Murphy, a second-quarter fumbled kickoff return by Aggie sophomore linebacker/up back Jacob Actkinson and a third-quarter punt that touched aggie junior cornerback Chris Randle before being recovered by SUU. The T-Birds also blocked an extra-point attempt in the third quarter following an Aggie touchdown. Aggie turnovers led to 13 SUU points.

Lamb said the team has mixed levels of morale returning home after being swept on the three-game road trip.

"I think our offensive guys have a lot of confidence" he said. "I think our offensive guys feel like they moved the ball well and that they have some things to correct too, and can get even better. I think our defensive guys, its going to be a work in progress throughout the season. We got a lot of points put on us tonight; even the last two weeks, a lot of yards, a lot of points and that's tough to come back from. We'll find out what kind of character they have over the next few weeks."

Lamb said if T-Birds continue to progress and put the road trip behind them, they still have a positive ending to the season.

"(We have to) take what (we) can from this game, learn from it and improve," Jessop said.

The T-Birds will try to reverse their fortunes when they return home for a battle with Texas State Saturday at 1 p.m. at Eccles Coliseum. Texas State will be seeking revenge after SUU won in San Marcos, Texas, last year, 34-20.

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