Utah State holds off Wake Forest 36-24

Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford (10) carries the ball as Utah State safety Devin Centers (37) chases after him during an NCAA football game, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Logan, Utah. (AP Photo/Eli Lucero)
Eli Lucero

LOGAN, Utah (AP) Utah State scored defensive touchdowns off a pair of first half turnovers and held Wake Forest to minus 25 yards rushing in a 36-24 win Saturday night that marked its first win over an ACC team.

Darrell Garretson had 121 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-16 passing for the Aggies (2-1) in relief of an injured Chuckie Keeton in the second half. Keeton threw for 166 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-27 passing in the first half.

The junior came up limping after getting hit on an option play near the end of the half. Keeton spent the entire second half on crutches on the USU sideline.

John Wolford threw for 257 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Demon Deacons (1-2). But the true freshman also tossed two interceptions and completed just 20-of-50 passes. He was also sacked six times.

Trailing 29-7 at halftime, Wake Forest briefly rallied in the third quarter after getting a major offensive spark following a turnover.

Hunter Williams picked off Garretson on his first pass attempt and returned it 32 yards to set up a 3 yard TD pass from Wolford to Isaiah Robinson. Then, after forcing a Utah State punt, Wake Forest put together a 78-yard drive covering seven plays - culminating in a 10-yard grab by E.J. Scott in the back of the end zone to make it 29-21 halfway through the third quarter.

Utah State halted the comeback with its own touchdown drive later in the quarter. Garretson found Ronald Butler for a 42-yard pass to get into Demon Deacon territory, setting up a 5 yard strike to Wyatt Houston two plays later and giving USU a 36-21 lead.

Mike Weaver kicked a 30-yard field goal to cut the lead to twelve with 1:01 left in the third. The Demon Deacons could get no closer. Wake Forest did drive down to the Aggie 38 early in the fourth quarter, but B.J. Larsen sacked Wolford on fourth down to stop the drive.

Both teams stalled on offense in the first quarter. That opened the door for each defense to grab the spotlight.

Wake Forest got on the board first when Josh Banks returned an errant pass from Keeton 70 yards to make it 7-0 midway through the first quarter. Keeton backpedaled to avoid a blitz and let the ball fly right into the waiting arms of Banks as he was about to get sacked.

Utah State returned the favor on the Demon Deacons' next drive. Zach Vigil stepped in front of a pass from Wolford and rumbled 35 yards for his first career touchdown to even the score at 7-7 with 3:03 left in the first quarter.

The Aggies finally generated some offensive momentum off a trick play midway through the second quarter. Keeton gave the ball to Ronald Butler and the senior wide receiver connected with a streaking JoJo Natson down the sideline for a 44-yard scoring strike, giving Utah State a 13-7 lead.

USU went up 19-7 a couple of minutes later on its second defensive score. Nick Vigil forced Wolford to fumble on a pass attempt. Devin Centers scooped up the ball a moment later and returned it 47 yards for the score.

A third Wake Forest turnover, this time an interception by Frankie Sutera, helped set up Chuckie Keeton's only touchdown pass. Keeton found Jefferson Court for a 6-yard strike, making it 26-7 with 4:46 left before halftime.

Nick Diaz drained a 26 yard field goal on the final play of the half to put the Aggies ahead by three scores at halftime.

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