Bridger's rifle claimed: Aggies top Wyoming, head to Fresno State for MWC title game
Published: Monday, December 2, 2013
Updated: Monday, December 2, 2013 21:12
Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, the mission at hand was simple: Win and you’re in.
The Utah State football team did just that, downing Wyoming 35-7 in the first-ever “Bridger’s Battle” on Saturday to earn a spot in the inaugural Mountain West Conference championship game.
"I don't know where to start except to praise those players,” said USU head coach Matt Wells. “It's been a long but short road since the Boise State game. These kids put their blinders on and shut out all the noise from the outside to rally together. Today was just another testament to that, and I'm just so proud of them.”
The Aggies wasted little time putting the Cowboys in a hole, jumping out to a 21-0 halftime lead.
Quarterback Darell Garretson teamed up with fellow freshman Wyatt Houston on a 6-yard touchdown to get USU on the board, and Bruce “JoJo” Natson doubled the lead in the second quarter with a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Natson recorded his second touchdown of the game on a 6-yard pass from Garretson. It was the second of three 6-yard touchdowns for Garretson, who found also found wide receiver Brandon Swindall for a 35-0 lead in the third quarter.
"I think the offense played a good game today,” said running back Joey DeMartino. “We're still a little shaky in some areas, myself included. We just really wanted to come out and put on a good show today and get this win for the home crowd and our seniors. When we look at the film we'll always find something we can fix, but looking back right now, I think we had a good game."
DeMartino finished the day with 112 yards rushing and a touchdown to put him over the 1,000 yard mark for the season. He became the 17th player in school history to reach the plateau and gave USU its third straight season with a 1,000-yard rusher.
"It's really not an individual accomplishment to me. It's my linemen up front with the push,” DeMartino said. “It definitely feels good. It's a dream come true. It's a tradition here left by Robert Turbin, Kerwynn Williams and Michael Smith. I hope it just keeps continuing on. I'm glad to be a part of it. I'm grateful. I'm blessed to be in the position I'm in."
On the defensive side of the ball, USU held Wyoming to 190 total yards of offense and kept the Cowboys off the scoreboard on both of their red zone trips.
“All three phases did things well at times, but I thought the defense was exceptional,” Wells said. “Bottom line is that it's the best defense in the Mountain West. They proved it again and again and again this afternoon. Defense wins championships: Everybody says that, especially late in the year. Being able to run the ball, be great in special teams and play exceptional defense, and we did all three of those today and found a way to win. It's unbelievable."
With the win, the Aggies improved to 8-4 overall and 7-1 in the MWC to earn a date with No. 24 Fresno State to determine the conference winner.
"It's one of the best feelings I've ever felt. It's what you get into this for, to play for championships,” Wells said. “We said it in January, we said it in August. Our goal around this place is to graduate our senior football players. Right now we're on track for six-straight years of graduating every single senior. We're on track, and we want to play for a championship. Here we are on Nov. 30 with half a championship."
Kickoff between USU and Fresno State is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7 at Bulldog Stadium in California.