BYU and Utah State played for The Old Wagon Wheel on Thursday night in Provo, in a rivalry series that dates back to 1922. But with BYU joining the Big 12 next season, this matchup was the last between the two closely located rivals for the foreseeable future.
In the first half, BYU linebacker Max Tooley made two plays that made for an interesting sendoff.
With the score knotted 7-7 midway through the first quarter, Tooley picked off Aggies quarterback Cooper Legas’ pass and took it the distance to give BYU the lead.
“Since I started playing football, every time the ball lands in my hands, the mentality is to score, whether it’s offense or defense,” Tooley said of his second pick-six of the season. “These days, I only get defensive opportunities, but it was the same sort of situation. I just needed to score and do what I had to do.”
Unfortunately for Tooley, he might have been riding the adrenaline a bit too high. Later in the quarter, he tackled Legas for a loss on a third-and-two — then he grabbed one of Legas’ cleats and flung it across the field. The Cougars linebacker incurred an 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct and gave Utah State a fresh set of downs.
Tooley owes a great deal of thanks to teammate Micah Harper, who put a stop to the Utah State drive by forcing a fumble at the BYU 18-yard line and made sure Tooley’s penalty didn’t come back to haunt him.
The game was 17-17 at halftime, but the 19th-ranked Cougars ran away with it in the second half, scoring a touchdown on their first two drives.
“We just made a lot of mistakes and undisciplined play, just little things that we can fix,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “I didn’t like that. Last week I talked about us not playing clean, and then the same thing happened again. That’s my job, to demand better from our guys.”
BYU won 38-26 to keep the Wagon Wheel and will travel to South Bend next week to play Notre Dame. Utah State will play Air Force at home and try to get their first win since beating UConn in Week 1.