Sports 10/20/99

Idaho 'the most important game on the schedule,' Aggie says

By Wade Denniston

After a 40-0 non-conference loss Saturday at seventh-ranked (USA Today/ESPN) Kansas State University, Utah State University will return to conference play this Saturday at the University of Idaho.

"(Idaho is the) most important game on the schedule," Aggie offensive tackle Ben Holbrook told KVNU radio.

Why?

To put it simply, the game is for first place in the Big West Conference and the Aggies will be looking to avenge last year's 26-14 homecoming loss to the Vandals.

"We (have) a little revenge to give to Idaho," USU senior linebacker Josh Manning told KVNU. "They have it coming."

In last year's game, the Aggies fell behind 19-0 in the first half before scoring two second-half touchdowns.

USU sophomore quarterback Jeff Crosbie saw his first collegiate action against Idaho in a relief role. Replacing starter Logan Galli, who was also a freshman last year, Crosbie completed nine-of-28 attempts for 178 yards and two touchdowns.

USU's 14 points were its fewest in a Big West game since losing to the University of Pacific 28-6 on Oct. 29, 1994, in Stockton, Calif.

Idaho is coming into the game with a 2-0 Big West record, 4-2 overall, after a 30-24 overtime victory at Arkansas State University on Saturday.

The Vandals had horrific special teams play as they had a punt returned 75 yards by Robert Kilow for the Indians' first touchdown.

With just over two minutes before halftime, ASU's Sean Mitchell recovered and returned a high snap over Idaho punter Justin Spiva's head for a 34-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14.

The Vandals were the only team to score in overtime as quarterback Greg Robertson hit Matt Roberg on a fade route in the end zone for a 2-yard score.

The extra point attempt by Ben Davis, who had already missed three of four field goals in the game, was blocked by Indian middle linebacker Andy Henault, leaving the score at 30-24.

However, ASU could not capitalize on its chance to steal the victory as it could only get as close as the Idaho 2-yard line.

USU (1-0 Big West, 2-4 overall) comes into the game after its blowout loss by KSU in Manhattan, Kan.

The Aggie defense played well early as it limited the Wildcats to four first-half field goals for a 12-0 halftime lead.

"Our defense battled their tails off," USU head coach Dave Arslanian told KVNU.

However, an inability to score once inside the red zone left the Aggies wondering what might have been.

Trailing 12-0 early in the third quarter, USU punt returner Emmett White fielded a punt and scampered 69 yards to the KSU 9-yard line.

The Aggies got as close as the 2-yard line on a 7-yard pass completion from Crosbie to senior tight end Bucky Orton, but on the next play senior running back Demario Brown was thrown for a loss of five yards.

USU had a fourth-and-goal at the 7-yard line and decided to try a field goal from 24 yards out.

Junior place-kicker Brad Bohn missed wide left against the wind, giving the ball back to KSU at its own 20.

Seven plays later, the Wildcats found the end zone for the first time on the windy afternoon after Joe Hall ran a 6-yard sweep for the touchdown. The extra point gave KSU a 19-0 lead with 4:08 to play in the third quarter.

The Aggies stormed back on their next series as Crosbie hooked up with Brown for a 65-yard completion to the Wildcat 3-yard line. Brown took a handoff on the next play and moved the ball to the 1-yard line, but that's as close as USU would get.

Another Brown carry on second down proved to be a 2-yard loss and Crosbie fired two incompletions on third and fourth down.

Brown was only able to muster nine yards on 14 carries during the afternoon. However, he led the Aggies in receiving with 89 yards on four catches.

"There was no place for Demario Brown to run," Arslanian told KVNU.

KSU fumbled on its next possession and USU drove down the field once again. A completion of 20 yards from Crosbie to senior wide receiver Adrion Pierson moved the ball from the Wildcat 46 to the 26.

The Aggies got no closer than the 24-yard line and were forced to try another field goal.

Bohn missed again, this time from 41 yards away, and that's as close as USU would come to scoring the rest of the game.

"We could not buy a point," Arslanian told KVNU. "That's the way it goes sometimes."

The KSU defense limited USU to just 155 yards of total offense (162 passing, minus seven rushing).

"They have a very good defense," Aggie senior offensive tackle Ben Holbrook told KVNU. "They are very fast."

The Aggies and Vandals have met 27 times, with USU holding a 13-12-2 overall advantage.



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