PULLMAN – It was the experience more than 20,000 Washington State fans had spent almost two years waiting for. Everything with the exception of the final score.
A heavily favored WSU team led by a single point at halftime and by as many as 12 in the second half, but Utah State mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter and scored the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute to play to win 26-23 at Gesa Field.
The Aggies punched in two touchdowns with less than 6 minutes to play and Logan Bonner fired a 7-yard pass to Deven Thompkins with 11 seconds left to seal the upset win. Bonner hit Derek Wright on the ensuing conversion to make it a three-point game.
After much speculation surrounding the quarterback battle between returning starter Jayden de Laura and graduate transfer Jarrett Guarantano, it was the latter who got the nod in WSU’s season opener against Utah State but the former who was tasked with leading the Cougars’ offense from the second quarter on.
Guarantano may have done enough to edge de Laura in preseason camp, but the quarterback who started 32 games in the SEC left the field after less than two quarters and never returned. On a third-down play from the shadow of his own goal line, Guarantano held onto the ball until he was pummeled in the end zone by Utah State defensive end Patrick Joyner Jr. The resulting safety gave the Aggies a 5-3 lead and Guarantano hobbled to the sideline before visiting the injury tent. De Laura took over from there and Guarantano, who’d eventually return to the sideline, spent the rest of the game observing from WSU’s bench.
After scoring just five points in the first half, the Cougars got a lift from their backfield in the second half. The offense moved more fluidly with de Laura under center, but it was Borghi who provided WSU’s first – and only – big offensive statement in the season opener.
After a field goal from USU gave the Aggies an 8-6 lead, Borghi took a handoff from de Laura, turned the corner and dashed 64 yards down the sideline to restore a five-point lead for the Cougars. Borghi, who missed three of WSU’s four games in 2020 due to a back injury, rushed 11 times for 86 yards on the game.
But that was the last sign of true offensive life for a WSU team that settled for a field goal in the fourth quarter despite driving all the way to Utah State’s 2-yard line.
11:30 - WSU 0, USU 0: The 2021 season for Washington State begins with a 17-yard drive before a third-and-long draw play was stuffed for a loss.
4:40 - USU 3, WSU 0: The Aggies strike first with a 23-yard field goal from Connor Coles. Three-straight pre-snap penalties from the 1-yard line forced Utah State to kick a field goal.
WSU defensive back Daniel Isom went down with a left arm/wrist injury on the play that got the Aggies to the 1-yard line.
14:57 - WSU 3, USU 3: Dean Janikowski nails a 35-yard field goal to tie the game up.
The Cougs had 10 plays on the drive, going 57 yards in the process.
WSU quarterback Jarrett Guarantano getting it done on the ground and through the air.
11:08 - USU 5, WSU 3: Jarrett Guarantano holds onto the ball too long as Patrick Joyner Jr. took down the WSU QB in the endzone for a safety.
The play was made possible when Utah State downed a punt at the WSU 1-yard line.
After the sack, Guarantano appeared to head to the injury tent.
9:43 - UTU 5, WSU 3: The Cougs force the first turnover of the game. Justus Rogers, a linebacker, caused Aggies QB Andrew Peasley to cough it up.
9:00 - UTU 5, WSU 3: Jayden de Laura is in at QB for Washington State. The starter a season ago is in after the Guarantano injury.
7:36 - USU 5, WSU 3: WSU’s de Laura added a bit of a spark for the Cougs on its fifth drive, but the Aggies defense slammed the door shut on the edge of the redzone.
Janikowski, who hit from 35 yards out earlier in the quarter, clanks the right upright from 31 yards. Aggies hold the lead for now.
de Laura had 25 yards rushing on the drive.
2:22 - USU 5, WSU 3: Derrick Langford Jr. picks off Logan Bonner at the WSU 36 and returns it 36 yards to the Aggies 28-yard line.
0:54 - WSU 6, USU 5: Three shots at the endzone, yet WSU finds itself kicking another field goal. Janikowski slots this one home from 26 yards out.
He is 2-for-3 this half.
11:40 - USU 8, WSU 6: Connor Coles sinks a 39-yard field goal as the Aggies take the lead once again.
Utah State hit the ground that drive, rushing for 37 yards to get into field goal range.
10:47 - WSU 13, USU 8: Untouched, Max Borghi screams down the left sideline for a 64-yard rushing touchdown.
Martin Stadium wakes up thanks to the running back.
It was the longest rush of the senior’s career.
Borghi had six rushes for 6 yards prior to that game-breaking run.
7:17 - WSU 13, USU 11: Connor Coles 28-yard field goal pulls the Aggies within 2.
The Cougs have kept Utah State out of the endzone and it has been necessary as the offense is still finding its footing.
4:01 - WSU 20, USU 11: A tight window was all de Laura needed to find Donovan Ollie from 12 yards out for a touchdown.
Ollie caught the slant at the 4, then dragged the corner and safety into the endzone.
The drive was 8 plays for 69 yards.
12:11 - WSU 23, USU 11: Janikowski with another field goal, this one from 27 yards out.
The Cougs putting some space between them and the Aggies here in the fourth.
5:25 - WSU 23, USU 18: Calvin Tyler Jr. finds a gap from two yards out to inch the Aggies closer to WSU.
Utah State took almost seven minutes off the play clock during the drive while rushing 10 times for 51 yards. Seven first downs were picked up along the way.
0:13 - USU 26, WSU 23: An easy touchdown for Logan Bonner as the Aggies score from seven yards out on a slant route.
Deven Thompkins goes untouched into the endzone for Utah State to take the lead with almost no time left on the clock.
They go 78 yards in 10 plays and 2 minutes and 51 seconds.
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