LOGAN, Utah — Jordan Love threw for a career-high 356 yards and two touchdowns to help Utah State rally for a 42-32 win over Air Force on Saturday night.
Ron'quavion Tarver had 128 yards on nine receptions for the Aggies. Gerold Bright added 101 yards rushing and two scores on 11 carries. Utah State (3-1) won its conference opener for the fifth time in six seasons since joining the Mountain West Conference.
The Aggies gained 489 total yards despite having the ball for just fewer than 16½ minutes and committing two turnovers.
"We did not play our best game in all three phases," Utah State coach Matt Wells said. "At times, we tried to hand it to them. We made mistakes. But we rose to the occasion and made plays when we needed to."
Air Force tallied 323 yards and three touchdowns on the ground — led by Kadin Remsberg's 94 yards and a TD on 17 carries. The Falcons set a school record with 107 plays and ran 86 times — the third highest total in team history.
It wasn't enough to lift the Falcons (1-2, 0-1) to a fourth straight win in their series with the Aggies.
Air Force shaved an 18-point deficit to three in the span of 13 seconds in the fourth quarter. After the Falcons scored on a 9-yard run from Remsburg, Savon Scarver fumbled the kickoff return. Christopher Musselman scooped up the ball and returned it 21 yards for a TD, trimming Utah State's lead to 35-32 with 13 minutes left.
Bright raced untouched down the sideline 70 yards to give Utah State breathing room again, putting the Aggies up 42-32 with 6:52 remaining. The Falcons drove inside the red zone on their subsequent drive, but Isaiah Sanders was stopped for no gain on 4th-and-1 from the 16.
"Our execution has got to be more crisp on both sides of the ball to beat a really, really quality team," Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said.
Utah State scored 28 consecutive points after falling behind 14-7 midway through the second quarter.
It started late in the second quarter with a 4-yard plunge from Bright for his first touchdown. Love capped off the run with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Dax Raymond, giving the Aggies a 35-14 lead midway through the third quarter. Gaje Ferguson recovered a fumble by Arion Worthman at the Air Force 30 and the Aggies needed only one pass from Love to score.
"We were able to go tempo on them," Love said. "I don't think they were ready for it. They had a hard time adjusting. That's our offense. That's what we do."
Love's consistency proved to be a difference maker. He opened the game by completing 12 of his first 13 passes. Then, during Utah State's 28-point run extending from the second quarter and into the third, Love completed 11 of 13 passes.
Air Force: Preventing chunk plays proved to be a huge problem for the Falcons' defense. Air Force allowed nine pass plays of 15 yards or longer and Bright's 70 yard sprint for the clinching score. It led to 28 unanswered points for Utah State at one point and it could signal trouble against other pass-happy MWC teams down the road.
Utah State: As long as Jordan Love stays healthy, Utah State is going to have one of the most dangerous offenses in the Mountain West. Love kept the Aggies a step ahead throughout the game with his smart decision making and precise passing. He finished with 164.5 QB rating after completing 68 percent of his passes.
Air Force: The Falcons host Nevada on Saturday.
Utah State: The Aggies have a bye week before playing at BYU on October 5.