USU beats up on Blue Raiders

Aggies' defense rises again - Winning must be contagious. For the second strait game the team came out fired up and did the "Haka" dance prior to beating up on thier opponet (Unfortunately for Middle Tennessee).

With their 41-20 victory over Middle Tennessee on Saturday, the Utah State Aggies have won their second straight behind solid defensive and offensive outings. Defensively, the Aggies went nine quarters without giving up a touchdown and had eight scoreless quarters dating back to the second half of the North Texas game Oct. 18 before giving up 20 points in the fourth quarter to Middle Tennessee. "Our plan is to come out here and earn respect," said Utah State safety Mike Rosencrans, who had six tackles and a forced fumble. "We didn't feel we were getting enough. We decided to step it up a notch and we've have good results." The Aggies are definitely earning defensive respect. "We're playing so well right now it's unbelievable," Utah State coach Mick Dennehy said of the defense. "It's a shame to end it that way because of the way we played for 3 1/2 half quarters." A Utah State unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with less than eight minutes left in the game kept a Middle Tennessee drive alive and it eventually scored a touchdown to end USU's shutout bid. The Blue Raiders scored two more times in the fourth quarter. With the addition of new defensive coordinator David Kotulski, the Aggies climbed from 111th last year to 56th nationally so far this year, and they will most likely rise again after the rout. "I don't think it's measurable how much fun we are having," said Rosencrans. "Everybody has just decided we're not going to lose anymore. We don't like the way we feel after games and we don't like the way people treat us after we lose." Offensively, the Aggies tallied 495 yards total offense (301 passing, 194 rushing) for their best output of the year. With the victory, the Aggies improve to 3-6 overall and 3-1 in Sun Belt Conference play, while the Blue Raiders fall to 2-2 in league play and 2-7 overall. Utah State will have a short week of practice before traveling to New Mexico State on Thursday for a game that will be televised on KJZZ-TV beginning at 6 p.m. The Aggie defense was exceptional in holding the Blue Raiders to just 289 yards total offense. Last week, Utah State held Arkansas State to just 272 yards. Middle Tennessee didn't record a first down until the 10:03 mark of the second quarter. Of their first six possessions, the Blue Raiders went three downs-and-out five times and fumbled on another, which Utah State defender Michael Gates returned for a 4-yard touchdown to begin the Aggies' scoring onslaught. Utah State quarterback Travis Cox posted a near-career day. In more than three quarters of play, he completed 22-of-34 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns. The total was just seven yards shy of his career-high set earlier in the year at Arizona State. At one point, Cox was 5-of-14 before catching fire to hit 17 of his next 20 passes. During the stretch he completed 11 straight. For the second week in a row, Cox threw for three touchdown passes in connecting with Barry Tolli (59 yards), Chris Stallworth (24 yards) and Kenny Coleman (six yards). The latter two came in the third quarter when the Aggies upped their 21-point halftime lead to 35-0. David Fiefia rushed for 101 yards on 23 carries before leaving early in the fourth quarter. He also had 71 return yards. Two big punt returns in the first half set up Aggie touchdowns. He also scored on a 3-yard run in the second quarter, increasing his season touchdown total to a team-high six rushing touchdowns. Teammate Travis Davis finished with 92 yards and a touchdown on just six carries. Five different USU receivers had three catches or more, led by Stallworth's six grabs for 61 yards. MT's Kerry Wright, the fifth-ranked receiver in the nation, had nine catches for 89 yards and a touchdown.

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