LOGAN, Utah (AP) Utah State is no longer asleep on offense. Given how tough the Aggies already are defensively, that's bad news for teams in the Mountain West Conference.
Air Force learned that lesson the hard way. USU scored on the game's first play and put two touchdowns on the board within five minutes en route to a 34-16 victory over the Falcons on Saturday night.
Darell Garretson threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-29 passing and rushed for another score to lead the onslaught. It marked another strong game for the sophomore, who took over as the full-time starter four games into the season after Chuckie Keeton suffered a season-ending knee injury for the second consecutive year.
''The number one stat for a quarterback at the end of the day is wins,'' Utah State coach Matt Wells said. ''He keeps winning. That's the most important thing. He's been very consistent throwing the football just looking at the numbers. He's being stingy with the ball.''
Once again, Garretson's top target ended up being Hunter Sharp, who finished with 164 yards and two touchdowns on 12 receptions to help the Aggies (4-2, 1-0 Mountain West) win their second straight game.
Sharp had more than 100 yards receiving for the fourth consecutive game. He is the first Aggie receiver to accomplish that feat since Kevin Curtis had five consecutive games with more than 100 receiving yards in 2001.
''The biggest thing for me is that we get the win,'' Sharp said. ''That just comes with it. It's a blessing. It's happening so fast, but I love it.'' On the other side of the ball, Zach Vigil tallied a career high 22 tackles, including eight for loss. He highlighted an aggressive defense that kept Air Force from generating any real offensive momentum for four quarters.
Kale Pearson threw for 169 yards and rushed for 43 more to lead the Falcons (4-2, 1-2 MW) who fell behind early after a mistake filled first half.
The Aggies forced four turnovers during the first and second quarter and scored 10 points directly off those miscues.
''That's just our mentality,'' Vigil said. ''We want to get three turnovers per game, so having four in the first half is huge. We want to play aggressive and fly around to the football. I think we did that.''
Utah State scored on the game's first play. Sharp hauled in a pass near midfield and raced untouched down the middle of the field for a 75 yard touchdown. He hauled in his second touchdown catch, a 23-yard grab, to put the Aggies ahead 14-0 less than five minutes into the game.
Air Force set up Sharp's second touchdown with its first turnover. Defensive end Jordan Nielson scooped up the ball after D.J. Johnson fumbled it at the Falcon 43 yard line.
Another fumble cost Air Force points on its next drive. Jalen Davis hit Pearson as he neared the goal line and popped the ball out of his arms before he could break the plane. It resulted in a touchback for the Aggies.
Air Force finally got on the board with a pair of field goals from Will Conan, who hit from 27 and 34 yards to cut Utah State's lead to 14-6 with 13:13 left in the second quarter.
That's as close as it got for the Falcons. Utah State forced two more turnovers during the quarter and pulled away before halftime.Nick Vigil punched it in from eight yards out to put the Aggies ahead 21-6. Vigil then intercepted Nate Romine two plays later to set up a 46-yard field goal from Nick Diaz.
Utah State tacked on a fourth touchdown right before halftime when Garretson scored on a 17-yard keeper to make it 31-6 with :47 remaining in the half.
''Their run defense makes it tough,'' Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. ''They are a quality team. For us to get better, we need to block better and got to run better.''
Air Force finally scored its first touchdown when Shayne Davern plowed into the end zone on an eight-yard run to make it 31-13 with 21 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Falcons had a chance to turn momentum completely in their favor early in the fourth. Jacob Onyechi blocked a punt to give Air Force the ball at the Utah State 14 yard line. On the following possession, Troy Timmerman stripped the ball from JoJo Natson and recovered it at the Aggie 45-yard line.
Utah State's defense limited the potential damage. The Aggies held Air Force to a 22-yard field goal from Conant after the blocked punt, then forced a punt four plays after Natson's fumble and tacked on a 35-yard field goal to make it 34-16 with 8:15 left.
''I don't think it was about early momentum,'' Calhoun said. ''We had three good scoring opportunities and only came away with six points.''