A foot away from pulling off upset over Utes
By Wade Denniston
How much closer can the Utah State University football team come before beating a quality opponent?
Despite the lopsided 38-18 loss to the University of Utah Saturday night in Salt Lake City, USU was, perhaps, a foot away from pulling off the upset.
With the Utes leading 21-18 in the third quarter, Aggie quarterback Jeff Crosbie scampered 60 yards down the USU sidelines for what appeared to be the go-ahead touchdown.
The score wasn't to be as the referees ruled Crosbie had stepped out-of-bounds at the Utah 25-yard line.
Three plays later, the Aggies were forced to kick a game-tying 37-yard field goal when the Utes held on at third-and-five.
An unsportsmanlike conduct call on USU head coach Dave Arslanian, still arguing over Crosbie's run and an apparent pass interference against Utah on third down, pushed the Aggies back to the 35-yard line. The penalty also forced place-kicker Brad Bohn to try from 52 yards away.
"I questioned the call on Crosbie's run, which I have a right to do, when they called him out of bounds," said Arslanian, who is 0-2 lifetime against Utah as a head coach. "And then I questioned (the official) on when two of our receivers got knocked down and we're trying to get the ball to them, whether it was holding or not, and he didn't like the way I questioned him.
"We're certainly not going to talk pleasantries out there," Arslanian said.
Bohn's attempt went wide and Utah scored seven plays later when Ute quarterback Darnell Arceneaux found tight end Matt Nickel for a 4-yard scoring strike.
The 6-foot-1 Ute signal caller finished the night 12-of-24 for 179 yards, including two touchdownpasses and one interception.
The Aggies opened the scoring when they cashed in on senior running back Demario Brown's 10-yard touchdown.
Sophomore running back Emmett White set up USU's score when he returned a Utah punt 27 yards to the Ute 33-yard line.
The Aggies pushed their lead to 10-0 when Bohn drilled a 24-yard field goal with 7:06 to go in the first quarter. USU's 10 first quarter points are its most in an opening quarter since scoring 17 vs.the University of Nevada in the 10th game of the 1997 season.
"We started off well," Arslanian said.
The Utes ripped off the next 21 points, including a possible 14-point turnaround that found the Aggies knocking on the door with first-and-goal at the Ute 5-yard line.
On the first-down play, Crosbie was rushed out of the pocket and forced into making a bad throw, which was intercepted in the end zone by Ute defensive back Jay Hill.
Five plays and 80 yards later, Utah was in the end zone again when senior running back MikeAnderson ran in from 6 yards. The score left the Utes ahead at the half, 21-10.
"We made some dumb mistakes during the course of the game," Arslanian said, "especially at times when we had momentum going."
The Aggies showed no quit in the second half as Brown put USU on the scoreboard when he bulled his way in from 4 yards, knocking over a Utah defender in his path. The two-point conversion left the Aggies down three, 21-18, but that's as close as they would come.
"I came into this Utah game just wanting to win," said Brown, who rushed for 128 yards on 25 carries.
"(Brown) came to play," added Arslanian.
Too many penalties (eight for 80 yards) and two interceptions, proved too much for the Aggies to overcome.
Trailing 28-18 late in the third quarter, USU still had some life, but Utah ended any hope of an Aggie upset when Crosbie's ball was tipped and intercepted for the second time by Hill, who ran 22 yards untouched for the touchdown.
The score pushed Utah's lead to 35-18, and put the second-largest crowd of 45,224 fans to see a football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium into a frenzy.
Crosbie finished 23-of-42 for 202 yards and used eight different receivers in the game.
USU will have a week off before tackling another in-state rival, Brigham
Young University, at Romney Stadium on Oct. 1. The game is scheduled
to kick-off at 7:05 p.m.
Archived Months:September 1998