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Porous run defense deflates Utah State


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POSTED: Sunday, November 08, 2009

Utah State expected it would be the team to keep Hawaii guessing with a balanced offensive attack.

Not the other way around.

Forced to throw the ball after falling into an early hole, the Aggies had no answer for Hawaii's suddenly powerful running game in a 49-36 loss last night at Aloha Stadium.

The Aggies (2-7, 1-4 Western Athletic Conference) have made a lot of progress under first-year head coach Gary Andersen, who has seen his team hang with the upper echelon of the WAC in losses to Fresno State and Nevada by a combined seven points.

But against Hawaii, a team that was still searching for its first league win, the Aggies played one of their least competitive games of the season.

“;They were more physical than we were and they dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides,”; Andersen said. “;You've got to get to six wins to get to a bowl game, so we knew we were going to get their best shot, no doubt about it, and obviously we got their best shot.”;

Despite its poor record, Utah State was a 2-point road favorite as it looked to build on its 30-14 upset of Hawaii last year in Logan, Utah.

Instead, the Aggies were run out of the building in the first half, giving up nearly 300 yards as Hawaii exploded to a 35-7 halftime lead.

“;We didn't play all four quarters on offense,”; quarterback Diondre Borel said. “;We would make a good play and then take a sack or get a penalty and things like that kept us from getting in a rhythm.”;

But as has been the case all season, a different Aggies team showed up in the second half. Borel, known for his running ability as much as his passing, came out firing, hitting five different receivers on the first two drives as the Aggies slowly chipped away at the lead with two quick touchdowns.

USU was trailing 35-21 when safety Walter McClenton intercepted a Bryant Moniz pass and returned it to the UH 6-yard line. Three plays later, Borel dropped back and had a wide-open Mikhail Morgan in the corner of the end zone, but put too much on the ball and it sailed out of bounds. Chris Ulinski missed a 27-yard field goal on the next play and the Aggies came up empty.

“;Yeah it was overthrown. I think I got hit on the play,”; Borel said of his throw to Morgan. “;I should have laid it up right when they snapped the ball, but I just waited too long I think.”;

The missed opportunity proved too much to overcome, as the Aggies couldn't slow down Hawaii's suddenly multi-faceted offense. UH had two different running backs go for more than 100 yards in a game for the first time in 14 years in Leon Wright-Jackson (167 yards) and Alex Green (110).

“;It's been an issue for us all year long,”; Andersen said. “;As we went through the game, they ran the ball extremely well and they shifted gears as the game went on. We were playing some fairly aggressive coverages on the back end and you can get some run game on it, but you shouldn't be able to make the big runs that they got.”;

Borel finished 25-for-38 for 344 yards, his second-highest total of the season, and two touchdowns with two interceptions.

Running back Robert Turbin was held to less than 100 yards for the fourth time this year, finishing with 60 on 13 carries.

“;We had to play from behind and throw the ball a lot,”; Borel said. “;Took us out of our game a little bit, but we still had opportunities to get back in the game.”;