Utah State pulls away late for Potato Bowl win over Toledo

After Utah State's last season ended with a crushing defeat in Boise, Kerwyn Williams refused to let it happen again.

The senior running back rushed for 235 yards on 18 carries and scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to push the No. 18 Aggies past the Toledo Rockets with a 41-15 victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

With the win, the Aggies (11-2) claimed their first bowl victory in 19 years to put the finishing touches on the most successful season in school history.

"This was a tremendous football game," said Utah State head coach Gary Anderson. "The second half was off the charts for these kids. Once again, they came out bound and determined to do something special and they found a way."

Chuckie Keeton added 92 yards rushing and a score on nine carries to go with an efficient passing day for Utah State. He completed 21-of-31 throws for 229 yards, while Matt Austin hauled in a team-leading six passes for 77 yards to help the Aggies to their seventh straight victory.

The Rockets (9-4) struggled offensively most of the day and were denied a chance at their first 10-win season in over a decade. Senior Austin Dantin got the start at quarterback, but was unable to lead Toledo to a touchdown on any of his offensive possessions.

Regular signal-caller Terrance Owens, who was battling an ankle injury, entered in the fourth quarter but was also unable to get Toledo into the end zone.

Dantin finished 12-of-21 for 132 yards with two interceptions, while Owens completed just 6-of-17 throws for 30 yards.

Bernard Reedy scored Toledo's only touchdown on a kick return late in the fourth quarter. He had a six catches for 62 yards and also led the Rockets' rushing attack with 50 yards on 10 attempts.

Despite losing the nation's leading tackler in linebacker Dan Molls on the first of the play game to a concussion and top running back David Fluellen to an aggravated ankle injury later in the frame, the Rockets trailed just 13-6 entering the fourth quarter.

After Dantin's last two possessions in the third ended with an interception and a punt, the Rockets brought in Owens to try and spark the offense on their first touch of the fourth.

Owens, who had missed the regular season finale against Akron because of an injured ankle, led the Rockets deep into Utah State territory, but got stuffed on a 4th-and-1 rush and the Rockets turned the ball over on downs.

Williams fumbled on the very next play, which led to a Jeremiah Detmer 29-yard field goal for Toledo, but the Aggies' running back would wreak havoc on the Rockets' defense the rest of the way.

After Detmer's kick made it 13-9, Williams rushed 63 yards for a score on the Aggies' next touch to make it two-score game with 6:57 to play.

A deflated Toledo offense then proceeded to go three-and-out before the Aggies sealed the victory on its next offensive possession.

Williams again broke off a long run, this one for 56 yards to the Toledo five before fighting his way into the end zone on his next carry to give Utah State a commanding 27-9 advantage with 4:55 left in the contest.

Dantin returned on Toledo's next touch, but was picked off by Brian Suite, which led to Williams' third score of the quarter, a 25-yard run to give Utah State a 34-9 cushion.

Toledo finally got into the end zone of the ensuing kickoff, as Reedy scored on an 87-yard touchdown return, but they failed to convert the two-point conversion and remained behind 34-15.

The Rockets were successful in recovering the onside kick, however they turned the ball over on downs before Utah State's Joe Hill scored on a 24-yard touchdown scamper to put the emphasis on the blowout.

Detmer connected on a pair of 37-yard field goal in the opening half, but Keeton's 62-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter gave the Aggies a lead they did not relinquish.

Keeton helped get the Aggies into field goal range just before halftime, leading an 86-yard drive in under two minutes.

The seven-play series was highlighted by a pair of long throws by Keeton, who fired a 40-yard strike to Chuck Jacobs before hitting Austin for a 20-yard gain. Nick Diaz then drilled a 26-yard field goal as time expired in the second before hitting a 44-yarder on the Aggies' first possession of the third for a 13-6 edge.

Game Notes

The Aggies won seven straight games in a season for the first time since 1965. They will be joining the Mountain West Conference next season ... Utah State outrushed Toledo 347-144 ... The Aggies amassed 574 total yards of offense to the Rockets' 318.