NCF Nation: David Fluellen


No. 22 Utah State capped off a terrific season with a 41-15 victory over Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho on Saturday. The Aggies finished the season 11-2 with their lone losses, to BYU and Wisconsin, by a combined five points. Here’s how the WAC champion Aggies knocked off Toledo, who finished 9-4 overall, 6-2 in the MAC.

How the game was won: Toledo made three trips to the red zone in the second half but scored just three points. Utah State got an interception, forced a turnover on downs and forced Toledo to settle for a field goal while protecting a 13-6 lead in the second half.

It was over when: USU running back Kerwynn Williams galloped 63 yards for a game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter. After fumbling on the Aggies’ previous possession, Williams made up for his mistake, using a combination of patient running, vision, strength and speed on his long touchdown run. Williams’ touchdown gave Utah State its first double digit lead, 20-9, with 6:57 left in the game.

Game ball goes to: Williams. The senior finished with 18 carries for 229 yards and three touchdowns. Williams’ dynamic day included two fourth-quarter runs of 50 yards or more. His combination of speed and strength proved too much for the Rockets defense in the final 15 minutes. He had seven carries for 198 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Stat of the game: 11.2. That’s the average yard per rush for Utah State. The Aggies offensive line did a terrific job controlling the trenches, allowing Aggie ball carriers to break game-altering runs. In addition to William’s long runs, quarterback Chuckie Keeton scored the first touchdown of the game on a 62-yard run in the first quarter. USU finished with 31 carries for 347 yards and five touchdowns.

Turning point: Toledo lost running back David Fluellen and linebacker Dan Molls, two of their top players, to injuries during the game. Molls entered the game with 166 tackles but left the game after taking a blow to the head on the opening kickoff and Fluellen, who rushed for 1,460 yards this season, left with a ankle injury in the first half. Those losses handcuffed the Rockets on both sides of the ball throughout the contest as Toledo was forced to move standout receiver Bernard Reedy to the backfield at various times with Fluellen out of the game and the Aggies ran all over the Rocket defense with Molls sidelined.

Unsung hero: Keeton. Williams’ terrific fourth quarter overshadowed the Aggies quarterback, who passed for 227 yards and rushed for 92 yards and one touchdown. He managed the game terrifically through three quarters, protecting the ball and the lead to allow USU’s offensive line to wear down the Rockets in the final quarter.

Potato Bowl keys

December, 15, 2012
12/15/12
12:02
PM ET
Three things to watch in today’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl between Toledo and Utah State:

1. Offense vs. defense: Which is better -- an explosive offense or a stifling defense? Toledo comes in averaging 456.1 yards and 32.9 points per game. The Rockets have playmakers at running back and receiver, and their offensive line was one of the best in the Mid-American Conference this season. That matchup with Utah’s front seven on defense will be one to watch. The Aggies rank 15th nationally in total defense, allowing 322.7 yards per game, and were especially stingy in the red zone. They’re fourth nationally in red zone defense and allowed just 13 touchdowns in 39 trips by opponents inside their 20-yard line.

2. Ball hawking: Utah State cornerback Will Davis is one of the best stories in college football. He enters the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl having intercepted a pass in five straight games and will be critical in helping to shut down Toledo’s big-play receiver, Bernard Reedy. Davis started his career at Division II Western Washington and played only one year of high school football. He’s been invited to play in the Senior Bowl. His ability to lock down one side of the field and play man coverage provides the Aggies with a lot of flexibility on defense. Davis leads the country with 21 passes defended.

3. Running to glory: Both teams have running backs capable of dictating the flow of the game, so it might be a race to see who can get their guy going the quickest. Toledo’s David Fluellen is the centerpiece of the Rockets’ offense. He has rushed for 1,460 yards this season and hit the 200-yard mark in three games. He missed the last game, against Akron, with an ankle injury, but should be rested and healthy for this game. His Utah State counterpart, Kerwynn Williams, is 11th nationally in all-purpose yardage (163 yards per game). He has rushed for 1,277 yards and 12 touchdowns and leads the team with 43 catches for 663 yards and five touchdowns. Williams has five touchdowns of 50 yards or longer this season.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

December, 2, 2012
12/02/12
9:38
PM ET
Toledo Rockets (9-3) vs. Utah State Aggies (10-2)

Dec. 15, 4:30 p.m. ET, Boise, Idaho (ESPN)

Toledo take from Big Ten blogger Brian Bennett: Toledo made its first-ever appearance in the BCS standings at No. 25 on Nov. 4. That followed eight straight wins by the Rockets, including a 29-23 upset over then-No. 21 Cincinnati on Oct. 20.

Back-to-back November losses to Ball State and Northern Illinois by a touchdown apiece prevented Toledo from playing for the MAC title. But it was still a highly successful debut for first-year head coach Matt Campbell, who took over when Tim Beckman left for Illinois. The Rockets are led on offense by Doak Walker Award semifinalist David Fluellen, who is No. 8 nationally in rushing with 1,460 yards. On defense, linebacker Dan Molls leads the FBS with 166 tackles.




Utah State take by WolverineNation's Chantel Jennings:In the 114 years that Utah State has had a football program, it had never won 10 games in a season.

Until now.

With their perfect 6-0 conference record, Utah State secured the WAC title outright behind fourth-year coach Gary Andersen, who has become one of the bigger up-and-coming names in FBS football. Now, with his team full of players he has recruited, the Aggies have put together one of the most successful seasons in program history.

While Utah State had an all-around impressive team, though its defense seems to be where it hung its hat. The Aggies had the eighth-best scoring defense in the FBS.

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