Boise, Idaho • The final play of the first quarter was routine for Utah State: a 4-yard run by Chuckie Keeton through the middle of Toledo's defense.
In the grand scheme of the season, however, the play tells a major part of the story of USU's success.
By holding the Rockets to a field goal in the opening quarter, Utah State has gone the entire schedule of 2012 without allowing a single touchdown in a first quarter.
That's allowed the Aggies to play from in front for much of the season, forcing teams to play catch-up against a defense that's been stingy in that type of format.
Saturday afternoon in Boise was no different. Utah State led 7-3 after the opening period, with a 62-yard touchdown run from Keeton proving to be the difference. The Aggies actually trailed, as Toledo took its opening possession the length of the field for a quick score.
But Utah State's defense settled down from there, and the Aggies controlled the remainder of the first half, despite taking a slim lead into halftime.
Toledo came into the game with a backfield of Terrance Owens and Dan Fluellen that accounted for the majority of its offense.
But the Rockets were without both of their stars for large portions of the game.
Owens, Toledo's starting quarterback, was an unexpected injury scratch before the game, but entered in the second half. Fluellen, one of the leading statistical running backs in the country, left the game early in the first half with an injury.
The losses left the Rockets without their two best playmakers, and a normally explosive offense was reduced to a ball-control unit hoping for good field position.
Fluellen left the game with seven rushes for 38 yards.
With 38 all-purpose yards in the first quarter, senior running back Kerwynn Williams passed New Mexico's Terance Mathis for the most in the history of the Western Athletic Conference. In the history of the FBS, Williams ranks 17th in that category.