DeMartino, defense lift Aggies to Poinsettia Bowl win
Utah State’s football team made it back-to-back wins in bowl games with a 21-14 win over the No. 23 Northern Illinois Huskies on Dec. 26 in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.
Aggie running back Joey DeMartino was the MVP of the game, which was held just a few minutes away from his high school. DeMartino racked up 143 yards and a touchdown in the game.
Linebacker Jake Doughty was named defensive MVP of the game after his eight-tackle performance with a forced fumble and 1.5 tackles for losses. Safety Brian Suite also had a stellar game defensively, recovering the Doughty fumble and intercepting a pass.
The win came just weeks after the Heisman Trophy presentation, an event where Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch was an important guest. Lynch was second runner up for the Heisman because of his dual-threat ability. The Aggies stifled him in the bowl game, holding him to just 39 rushing yards. Lynch finished the season with 1,920 rushing yards, second in Division I football.
“I couldn't be prouder of everybody. Everyone worked their tails off,” Doughty said. “Ever since the Fresno loss we worked our tails off, and we wanted to come back and prove to ourselves and the offense and our coaches and the whole nation that we are one of the top defenses. With a challenge like Jordan Lynch, he's a great player.”
This was the Aggies’ second-straight year with a bowl win, something they have never done in program history. The win also gave the senior class their 31st career win, a total no other senior class has met at Utah State.
“It's those 22 seniors, and the way that they held it together and the way that he they just willed it upon really themselves to find a way, to keep finding a way to win,” said Utah State head coach Matt Wells. “They did it each and every week since the beginning of the season.”
The Aggies finished the season with a 9-5 record, a win total tied for second-most in team history behind only the 11-win 2012 squad.
“Words can't describe that feeling at the end, but as long as our team was winning and our seniors are going out like this is the best feeling in the world and putting our program on the map and showing that we can win in big-time environments, it means everything,” DeMartino said. “Watch it go grow from four years, it's crazy going from four wins to three bowl games to two bowl wins. It means everything, just shows how much we've grown as a program. I'm just happy to be part of Utah State.”
The Aggies finished the season on a high note after losing star quarterback Chuckie Keeton against BYU to a knee injury. The team went 6-2 in his absence, won the Mountain West Conference Mountain division and beat a ranked team in their bowl game.
“It’s just a good feeling. We got behind the offensive line, honestly, and they carried us the rest the way,” said Aggie freshman quarterback Darell Garretson. “The defense is outstanding and they played lights-out, game-in and game-out and kept us in ballgames all the time. We stuck behind the line and ran the ball well and did a lot of things well. We kept going, kept moving along and kept winning ball games.”
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