(Friday, September 30th)
Final Score: BYU 27, Utah State 24
Provo, UT (Sports Network) - Marcus Mathews caught a deflected, 13-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Riley Nelson with 11 seconds remaining, as the BYU Cougars completed a 27-24 comeback victory over the Utah State Aggies.
Mathews' catch, which was tipped by Aggies' cornerback Will Davis, capped a 96-yard scoring drive. Nelson, who entered the game late in the third quarter, completed 4-of-5 passes and ran for 30 yards on the game-winning march.
In all, Nelson -- a former Utah State transfer --threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 62 yards for the Cougars (3-2).
The late fireworks spoiled a strong performance from Utah State's freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who threw for 122 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 22 yards.
Robert Turbin carried the ball nine times for 123 yards and a score for the Aggies (1-3).
With BYU starter Jake Heaps rendered largely ineffective, head coach Bronco Mendenhall turned to Nelson with 5:06 remaining in the third quarter. Nelson was tasked with erasing a 21-13 deficit, but he wasn't without experience. The junior started the first three games of the 2010 campaign for BYU before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
Nelson moved the Cougars into field goal range on his first series, but Justin Sorensen missed the 47-yard attempt.
Josh Thompson then hit a 21-yarder early in the fourth quarter to give the Aggies a 24-13 lead.
On the ensuing BYU drive, Nelson responded, lofting a 24-yard touchdown strike to Cody Hoffman in the corner of the endzone. Hoffman narrowly landed in bounds to make it a 24-20 game.
Michael Smith quieted the BYU faithful with a 53-yard run to the Cougars 32- yard line on the Aggies' next play from scrimmage. The Cougars held, however, and took over on downs following Utah State's failed fake field goal attempt on 4th-and-8.
Nelson then moved his team to the Utah State 26-yard line, but J.J. Di Luigi fumbled on 3rd-and-2 with 3:53 remaining. The Aggies recovered but were forced to punt following a quick three-and-out.
The Cougars took over on their own four-yard line after Tyler Bennett's punt soared, then rolled 67 yards.
Nelson was dropped for a loss of two yards on first down before connecting with Mathews for six yards on second. Nelson extended the possession with a seven-yard run. Later in the drive, he bought time in the backfield before unleashing a 40-yard strike to McKay Jacobson at the Utah State 26-yard line.
Following a 13-yard run, Nelson zipped a pass over the middle. The ball missed its intended target, was tipped by Davis, then fell into the arms of Mathews, who was streaking across the back of the endzone, giving BYU and improbable win.
Earlier, it was Utah State which provided the excitement, as Turbin reeled off an 80-yard touchdown run on the game's first play from scrimmage.
Sorensen cut the Aggies lead to 7-3 with a 23-yard field goal before Heaps' one-yard touchdown plunge gave the Cougars a 10-7 heading into the second quarter.
From there, Heaps and the BYU offense cooled, adding only a 29-yard Sorensen field goal until Nelson's appearance late in the third.
By then, Utah State had tacked on a 13-yard scoring strike from Keeton to Eric Moats in the second quarter and a 24-yard touchdown connection from Keeton to Turbin in the third for a 21-13 advantage.
10/01 00:53:02 ET