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Provo • On a night when the No. 18-ranked BYU Cougars retired the jersey number of arguably their best quarterback in school history, their perfect season came to a crashing end as well.
In an ironic twist of fate that continued a string of devastating quarterback injuries in the series known as the Battle for the Old Wagon Wheel, three-touchdown underdog Utah State routed the Cougars 35-20 in front of 64,090 shell-shocked fans at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
But BYU lost far more than possession of the pioneer-era relic.
Swashbuckling quarterback Taysom Hill, whose campaign for postseason honors was gaining steam after a 4-0 start, suffered a fractured left leg in the second quarter.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Hill will have surgery on Saturday morning and is out for the season. Recovery time is expected to be 3-4 months.
And so is BYU's hope for its first undefeated season since 1984 and a New Year's Six bowl game, let alone the College Football Playoff.
With Utah State leading 28-14 at halftime, Jim McMahon's No. 9 was retired, and then backup Christian Stewart tried to bring the Cougars back. He drove the Cougars deep into USU territory early in the third quarter, but a throw slipped through Jordan Leslie's hands near the goal line and dropped into USU's Torrey Green's hands.
The senior moved the BYU offense at times, but would go on to throw two more interceptions, to USU's Devin Centers and Frankie Sutera.
"They executed more cleanly from beginning to end," Mendenhall said, crediting Utah State for the historic win.
It was that kind of night for BYU (4-1), and a sweet one for Utah State (3-2), which won in Provo for the first time since 1978, snapping a 17-game losing skid at LES. That win, coincidentally, came against McMahon.
Ironically, the same player involved in Hill's knee injury two years ago in the 6-3 BYU win over USU that sidelined Hill for the rest of the 2012 season was involved in Friday night's injury.
As Hill attempted to run to the east sideline on a second-and-6 play late in the second quarter, his leg was wrenched severely as safety Brian Suite was attempting to pull him down.
But even before Hill was hurt, Utah State was taking control of the game, thanks to a flurry of points in the final 4 minutes, 40 seconds of the first half. Touchdown receptions of 22 and 72 yards by Devonte Robinson and Hunter Sharp gave the visitors the 28-14 halftime lead, Sharp's coming after Hill left the game.
"Credit Utah State," Mendenhall said. "They had some fast guys out there that ran by us a couple of times."
BYU got the start it wanted, taking a quick 7-0 lead, then was torched repeatedly by USU backup quarterback Darell Garretson, playing in the place of Chuckie Keeton, who was injured in last year's 31-14 loss to BYU in Logan. Garettson threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns, completing 19 of 25 passes.
The Cougars cut the deficit to 35-20 with a 24-yard field goal by Trevor Samson with 8:39 remaining, and seemingly got the ball right back when USU fumbled away the ensuing kickoff. However, the Cougars were flagged for being offsides on the kickoff, and USU kept possession.
That was one of about five critical mistakes the Cougars made - roughing-the-passer penalties, dropped passes, a fumbled handoff exchange and three interceptions - that cost them any chance of avoiding the upset.
Utah State racked up 457 yards of offense, though, and deserved the victory despite the absence of Hill in the second half. BYU had 173 yards in the first half when Hill left the game, and finished with 425.
The Cougars scored easily on their first possession after Hill threw a 53-yard strike to Jordan Leslie on the first play of the game. Hill leaped into the end zone after an 11-yard run to give the Cougars the 7-0 lead just one minute, 16 seconds into the game.
Garettson fumbled a snap away after moving the Aggies into BYU territory on his first possession, but recovered nicely on the third possession and drove his team 85 yards for a tying touchdown. His throw to Robinson on third-and-goal from the 7 put USU on the board, and the Aggies were on their way to the historic victory, despite falling behind 14-7 when Hill threw a 25-yard TD pass to Mitch Mathews early in the second quarter.