Wyoming blowout forced Bonner, Aggies to hit reset button
LAS VEGAS, Nev., -- That game demonstrated what Wyoming was capable of.
For Utah State, that loss served as a season-altering reset.
Titus Swen rushed for a career-high 169 yards, including a 98-yard touchdown run, in a 44-17 rout of the eventual Mountain West Champion Aggies last November in Logan.
UW rolled up 604 yards of total offense that night. The defense forced three turnovers and punished USU quarterback Logan Bonner all night long. Cam Stone returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score.
It was as close to a perfect game as you can get for the visitors.
It was something the Aggies needed, according to Bonner.
"At that point in time, it kind of saved our season," the Aggies senior signal caller said. "We just refocused and we were lights out after that. If we win that game, I don't know how well we play.
"It was actually really important for us, looking back now. Then, it was oh, my god, we just lost the season. Like, we just messed up big time."
A win would have clinched the title. That loss took destiny right from their hands.
Fortunately for Utah State, No. 21 San Diego State handed visiting Boise State a 27-16 loss the following week. Bonner and the Aggies took care of business in Albuquerque.
Bonner, along with defensive tackle Hale Motu'apuaka, were eager to show off their diamond-encrusted silver rings Thursday afternoon in Las Vegas. That jewelry came courtesy of a 46-13 blowout of the Aztecs in the conference title game.
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Wyoming's celebration was short-lived. A week after walking out of Maverik Stadium with Jim Bridger's Rifle -- the traveling trophy between the two rivals -- the Cowboys were embarrassed in the season finale at home by a downtrodden Hawaii squad.
How on earth did the Cowboys do that to the Aggies?
Motu'apuaka said the answer is a simple one.
"The defense just didn't come to play like we should've," the 6-foot-1, 275-pound junior said. "Wyoming did a good job and it started up front and with the running backs. Levi (Williams) balled out, too."
Williams, who, oddly enough, transferred to USU this offseason, completed 12-of-15 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns in that win.
Wyoming's offense was efficient in that one.
Xazavian Valladay carried the ball 21 times for 145 yards. Isaiah Neyor snagged four passes for 125 yards and a score. Joshua Cobbs also hauled in six balls for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Arguably more impressive is what Jay Sawvel's defense did to Bonner and Co.
USU's quick-strike spread attack put up nearly 33 points per game in 2021 to go along with an average of 446 yards of total offense. Bonner threw for 3,628 yards last fall while connecting on 61% of his passes. The Arkansas State transfer tossed 36 touchdown passes.
That night was a different story.
Though Wyoming was credited with just a single sack, Bonner spent the majority of his outing on his wallet. He completed just 19 of his 40 passing attempts. He didn't even eclipse the 200-yard mark through the air. That happened just three times all season.
Bonner was forced to leave the game late with a leg injury. He was eventually replaced by Andrew Peasley, who, oddly enough, transferred to Wyoming this offseason.
"Wyoming's defense was just so dynamic and long," Bonner said. "They did a really good job of bringing everyone up and letting Chad (Muma) do his thing. He's a great player."
Speaking of Muma.
"The top of his helmet hit my shin," he continued. "I thought I fractured it. I was limping a little bit, but it was just a really deep bone bruise. So, I was hobbled a little bit ... I got it wrapped up, but yeah, his hard-ass head. I'm really excited to watch him in the league."
The Cowboys and Aggies will meet Oct. 22 inside War Memorial Stadium. The QB swap mentioned above will take center stage that night in Laramie.
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