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Logan • Underdog Utah State did a lot of things right Friday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Aggies ran more plays, out-gained, punted less and converted third downs more efficiently than the Utes.
Still, Utah State lost, 24-14.
It was a competitive showing by the Aggies in the wake of their come-from-behind 12-9 victory over Southern Utah in its season opener.
But a moral victory? Tell it to coach Matt Wells.
"Make no mistake about it," he said. "That's not Utah State football. We won't ever, ever settle for something less than a win and won't ever hide we will never get into that."
The Aggies overcame early 7-0 and 14-7 deficits and worked their way into a 14-all tie at halftime.
Senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who like the rest of Utah State's offense struggled against Southern Utah, led the comebacks.
He completed 11 of 17 passes for 108 yards in the first half and threw for two touchdowns one to running back LaJuan Hunt and another, with 24 seconds left, to Zach Van Leeuwen.
"I thought the whole offense, in general, made strides," Wells said. "We made plays at wideout. We made a lot of plays at wideout. I thought the offensive line was better. That is one of the better defensive lines we'll face all year."
Late in the first quarter, Keeton got up limping after a hit by Utah's Sunia Tauteoli. Considering it was only his 11th game since 2012 because of injuries, Utah State fans held their breath.
Afterward, Keeton downplayed the situation, which drew a roughing-the-passer penalty.
"I took a hit. I'm good," Keeton said. "… It's the game of football. As long as I have a heartbeat I'm going to play."
Utah took control of the game in the third quarter despite playing without No. 1 quarterback Travis Wilson, who was injured late in the first half.
Utah State went three-and-out on three straight possessions. The Aggies gained a total of 17 yards, held the ball for only 4:19 and failed to convert on third-and-one, third-and-seven and third-and-13.
"They didn't really do anything to slow us down," Keeton said. "We slowed ourselves down. They played a good game but, at the end of the day, the offensive side of the ball is 11 people playing as one and sometimes we had 11. Other times we had nine. But you need 11 every single play. That's how you win games."
Wells agreed with his quarterback: "Obviously you go back and look at it. But I think it was us."
Still, Utah State didn't fade away. Only a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers a fumble by Keeton at the Utah 24 and an interception by Ute linebacker Gionni Paul at the Ute 7 prevented the Aggies from applying heavy pressure down the stretch.
Keeton ended up completing 22 of 35 passes for 256 yards. He was intercepted twice. Senior Devonte Robinson matched a career-high with six receptions for 119 yards.
Defensively, Utah star running back Devontae Booker gained 120 yards, but he needed 31 carries to do it. His longest run: 22 yards.
"It's comforting to know we stuck in there," said Aggie linebacker LT Filiaga, who finished with 12 tackles. "We missed some tackles, we didn't win the turnover battle and we didn't get out [often enough] on third down. If we can clean those little things up, we can be a great defense."
• Utah State commits three turnovers in a 24-14 loss at Utah.
• Chuckie Keeton and the Aggies outgain the Utes, 373-327.
• Utah State plays Washington, another Pac 12 team, on Saturday.