LOGAN, UTAH â€” Utah State University went out on offense first in overtime, promptly marching down the field in three plays to score a touchdown.
All three plays were runs by a 5-foot-10 tank of a running back Robert Turbin to the left, giving USU the lead 28-21. After a response touchdown by CSUâ€™s offense for the tie and then a touchdown for the lead, Turbin blasted home another touchdown, again to the left.
This time USU (1-2, 0-0 WAC) decided it would go for the two-point conversion and the win.
Freshman quarterback Chuckie Keetonâ€™s pass was broken up by CSU cornerback Elijah-Blu Smith, but a questionable pass interference call gave USU another opportunity.
Again USU went with Turbin to the left, but this time the defense was ready.
â€œCoach (Larry Kerr) made a great call,â€ linebacker Mike Orakpo said. â€œThe touchdown before, they went to that (left side) play, but we switched the call up on them and it worked to our advantage.â€
The stop was made by senior cornerback Momo Thomas, who easily gives up 40 pounds to the 216-pound Turbin, at the two yard line, sealing a 35-34 victory in double overtime for the Rams (3-1, 1-0 MW).
CSUâ€™s defense stepped up in the third quarter when it was needed most as junior linebacker James Skelton forced a fumble deep in USU territory, which was recovered by sophomore transfer Shaquil Barrett and taken 15 yards for a touchdown, closing the gap to 14-10.
â€œI was just in the right place at the right time,â€ Barrett said. â€œIt felt good (to score a touchdown). Itâ€™s my first touchdown in college.â€
Barrett finished the game with a team-high 14 tackles, a sack and the fumble recovery. Barrett accelerated his progression into the starting lineup when senior Mychal Sisson went down in week two with a broken ankle, and defensive coordinator Larry Kerr has been pleased with Barrettâ€™s development.
â€œWhat a great recruit he is â€¦ and just to get him in our program,â€ Kerr said after the game. â€œTremendous kid, who plays his heart out and made some huge plays. Obviously scoring on defense was huge for us and really kind of turned the momentum.â€
A key matchup going into the game was CSUâ€™s ability to contain USUâ€™s dual-threat quarterback Keeton, who had a breakout performance against defending champion Auburn in week one. Keeton is considered a far more mobile quarterback than CU-Boulderâ€™s Tyler Hansen, who gave the Rams fits scrambling to the outside.
Containing Keeton was a priority of the defense all week leading up to Saturdayâ€™s game along with slowing up USUâ€™s highly productive back field.
â€œI thought we did a fantastic job keeping (Keeton) corralled,â€ Kerr said. â€œIt was really a great effort.â€
The defenseâ€™s efforts were pivotal throughout a game where the Rams struggled offensively to get into any real rhythm. Outside a 53-yard scamper by senior Michael Smith, CSU prevented USU from big plays, keeping the offense in striking distance.
The Rams will return home already matching their win total from the past two seasons and carry not only momentum, but confidence as well going forward.
â€œWe should go into this next game knowing that weâ€™re capable of pretty much beating anyone,â€ Orakpo said. â€œUtah State is a great football team and to come out here and beat them on the road, thatâ€™s a big win.â€
_Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at email@example.com. _