Unlike last week, there was no drama for Utah State's football team in its home opener.
The Aggies jumped out to a 41-0 lead less than a minute into the third quarter and coasted to a 62-7 victory over Stony Brook in front of an announced crowd of 22,247 on Saturday night at Maverik Stadium. It's was USU's 11th straight triumph in its home opener and 13th consecutive win over a FCS opponent.
"It feels great to win," USU head coach Gary Andersen said. "It was a team effort (as) all three phases contributed. It was good to get some young players in there as we went through the game in the second half. Winning is an awesome feeling and these kids deserved it. They fought hard and we're excited to get this film evaluated. ... I'm proud of the kids. Great victory and it's great to be back in (this) stadium for myself personally."
The Aggies (1-1) used three quarterbacks against the Seawolves (1-1), and all three made some memorable plays. Starter Jordan Love exited the game following USU's first possession of the second half, having completed 25 of 34 passes for 294 yards and one touchdown.
Henry Colombi entered the contest in the third quarter and completed all six of his passes for 77 yards, including a pretty 30-yard scoring strike in stride to Derek Wright in the corner of the end zone.
Next, it was Andrew Peasley's turn to get the Aggie fans on their feet. The explosive redshirt freshman kept the ball and scampered 59 yards to paydirt, giving USU a 55-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
By the time the dust had settled, the Aggies had racked up 717 yards — 392 passing and 325 rushing — on 87 offensive plays. The 717 yards are the second-most in school history in a game. Additionally, USU, which only punted twice in the game, established a new single game school record with 35 first downs and converted on an impressive 10 of 14 third downs.
"We left a couple of touchdowns out there, but that's part of the game," said USU standout sophomore Deven Thompkins, who scored touchdowns on special teams and on offense. "But I know that we played to our full potential tonight, and that's what I like to see from our offense."
Meanwhile, USU's defense was rock solid, limiting Stony Brook to 263 total yards. The Seawolves, who punted 11 times, didn't pick up a first down in the first quarter and only ended up converting on 5 of 17 third downs. It was a huge improvement from a week ago for the Aggie defense, which allowed Wake Forest to go 13 of 24 on third downs.
"I think we did a great job the entire game getting three and outs and stopping the run," USU All-American linebacker David Woodward said. "That was a big emphasis for this game and we did a good job of it."
The Aggies did catch an unfortunate break in the fourth quarter when Peasley was essentially carried off the field after racing 20 yards to the Stony Brook 19-yard line. No. 6 didn't put any weight on his right foot.
Colombi re-entered the contest and threw a short pass to Thompkins, who deftly eluded a tackle and scored from nine yards out.
It was definitely a first half to remember for the Aggies, who outgained the Seawolves 415-111 en route to a 34-0 halftime lead. Not only was USU explosive offensively, it didn't allow a single first down in Stony Brook's first five possessions. The Seawolves didn't pick up a first down until the 13:40 mark of the second quarter.
A 26-yard reception by Jordan Nathan set up USU's first score of the game, which was a 35-yard field goal by Dominik Eberle, his first of two 3-pointers in the half.
After another three and out by the Seawolves, the Aggies marched inside the Stony Brook 5-yard line before Jaylen Warren coughed the ball up. The Seawolves weren't out of the clear for long, though, as they went three and out, and Thompkins showcased his explosive speed on a 45-yard punt return to the house for a 10-0 Aggie lead.
"I feel like a little kid again, honestly," Thompkins said. "I feel like I'm back in Pop Warner and I'm actually able to display my talents, and just show everybody that this is who I am and this is what I love to do. You know, I want to be one of the greatest to play the game, and that's my goal."
The hosts increased its advantage to 17-0 with 3:27 remaining in the first quarter when Siaosi Mariner snared a 29-yard TD reception from Love, who showed off his arm strength by throwing across his body. That capped off a 10-play, 76-yard drive.
USU was in business again a couple of minutes later as Logan High product Taylor Compton hauled in back-to-back receptions of 18 and 17 yards to advance into Stony Brook territory. The Aggies eventually settled for a 37-yard field goal by Eberle for a 20-0 lead less than one minute into the second quarter.
The Seawolves finally found some success moving the ball through the air with backup signal caller Jack Cassidy. They were inside the USU 25 when Nick Heninger pressured Cassidy, forcing an errant pass that was intercepted by Andre Grayson — his first pick in an Aggie uniform.
It didn't take long for the Aggies to capitalize on the turnover as they promptly marched 98 yards in nine plays. An elusive 28-yard catch and run by tight end Caleb Repp set the stage for Warren, who slipped out of a tackle and sprinted 28 yards to paydirt.
Less than five minutes later, the Aggies were in the end zone again. Love connected with Thompkins in stride for a beautiful 45-yard sideline completion. On the following play, Bright exploded up the middle for a 30-yard gain into the red zone. The possession culminated with a 2-yard TD run by Bright and a 34-0 Aggie advantage with 2:08 remaining in the opening half.
Things didn't get any better for the Seawolves to start the second half. USU received the opening kickoff and only needed two plays to advance the pigskin 78 yards. USU's offensive line dominated Stony Brooks' defensive front on both plays, the second of which was a 59-yard TD jaunt up the gut by Warren, who was untouched on the play.
The Seawolves avoided being shut out on their first possession of the second half as they capped off a 14-play drive with a 4-yard pass from Cassidy to Isaiah White on third and goal.
All in all, USU's three QBs teamed up to complete 35 of 45 passes to 14 different targets. Ten Aggies caught at least two passes, with Thompkins (77 yards), Mariner (73) and Repp (58) leading the way with five receptions apiece.
"The biggest thing is we have Jordan Love to make those plays," Andersen said when asked about having multiple offensive weapons. "He is a special, special quarterback, and he stays so steady eddy in the moment and takes what's there. And the receivers are unselfish as a crew, which is also great so see. There's nobody out there counting catches. They're just excited when their opportunity comes to make a play, and we've caught the ball extremely well and we've made some big plays (so far this season)."
Warren led the way on the ground with 105 yards on nine carries. The Snow College transfer has exceeded the century mark in both of his games as an Aggie. Warren is only the 12th USU player to ever rush for more than 100 yards on fewer than 10 attempts.
It was a balanced defensive effort for the Aggies, with safety Cash Gilliam leading the way with a team-best six tackles. Cornerback DJ Williams bounced back nicely from a rough game against Wake Forest as he broke up three passes. USU's defense broke up nine passes and finished with nine QB hurries.
"I think it just motivates us and gives us some momentum going into the bye week that we can (hopefully) carry over for San Diego State," Woodward said.
Captaining the Aggies for their home opener were Love, senior defensive end Tipa Galeai, Bright and Woodward.
• Gilliam, true freshman cornerback Cam Lampkin and sophomore offensive lineman Kyler Hack made their first career starts in an Aggie uniform.
• Former Box Elder star and BYU graduate transfer Riley Burt saw his first action as a running back for the Aggies, as did true freshman Enoch Nawahine. Burt rushed for 15 yards and caught a pass for 11 yards, and Nawahine gained 24 yards on eight carries.
• Wright, true freshman wideout Ajana Carter and tight end Logan Lee, a converted defensive end, hauled in their first receptions as Aggies.
• The Aggies have now scored 60-plus points in three consecutive games on Merlin Olsen Field.