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September 4, 2009Utah quarterback Terrance Cain was perfect in his first quarter of NCAA football, then pretty good the rest of the way.
The junior college transfer passed for 286 yards and two touchdowns in his Utah debut and the 19th-ranked Utes extended the nation's longest winning streak by beating Utah State 35-17 on Thursday night.
"I really didn't feel nervous. I've played this game a long time," said Cain, who played two years of junior college in Texas before transferring to Utah. "I was just trying to stay composed. I never really get too excited."
Matt Asiata ran for a career-best 156 yards and two touchdowns and David Reed had 10 catches for 172 yards and a touchdown as the Utes won their 15th in a row.
Longtime Utah assistant Gary Andersen was making his coaching debut at Utah State, which lost to the Utes for the 12th straight time. The score was closer this year, but the Utes dominated the Aggies once again.
Utah finished with 519 yards of offense and held Utah State to 342 -- 96 of which came on Robert Turbin's touchdown run in the first quarter. The Aggies kept it close by forcing three turnovers, but that wasn't enough to make up for going 0 for 12 on third down.
"We turned the ball over three times and that can be a recipe for disaster," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "Fortunately, the entire defense was very efficient."
Whittingham said two players missed assignments on Turbin's run up the middle that turned into a school record when he rumbled all the way to the other end to get the Aggies back within 17-10 in the first quarter.
Without Turbin's run, the Aggies gained less than 250 yards on the Utes, who were missing their top pass rusher as Koa Misi sat out with a bad back. Turbin finished with 148 yards and Diondre Borel completed 10 of 26 passes for 121 yards.
"The team showed flashes of where I want them to be and they played tough, but they didn't execute on crucial plays," said Andersen, who was Whittingham's defensive coordinator for four years.
Utah kept the pass plays simple for Cain and he was on target from the beginning, completing his first seven. He got a lot of help from Asiata, who wore down the Aggies with 36 carries in his second career 100-yard rushing game. Asiata, whose previous career high was 116 yards against Air Force last year, scored on runs of 1 and 2 yards.
"Asiata running hard and getting five yards a pop took a lot of pressure off me," Cain said.
Two of Cain's first three throws went for touchdowns on nice plays by the receivers. Cain's second career pass was a short slant to Reed, who broke up the middle for a 65-yard touchdown. On the next series, Cain threw another slant to John Peel, who bowled over a couple of Aggies at the goal line to give the Utes a 14-3 lead.
Turbin answered quickly for the Aggies, taking a carry up the middle and rumbling almost the entire length of the field for a touchdown to get the Aggies within 14-10 just 17 seconds after Peel's score. Turbin needed to make just one cut at the line through a hole that stretched to the other end of the field.
The Aggies stopped the Utes on three straight plays from the 1-yard line, but went nowhere after getting the ball back and Matt Martinez smothered Peter Caldwell's punt and the ball rolled out the back on the end zone for a safety to put Utah up 23-10.
Whenever the Aggies came up with a big play, they followed it with a mistake.
"Stuff like that just killed us," defensive back James Brindley said. "We've got to work on those things and just all-out execute better."
Utah State pulled within 26-17 on a late touchdown, set up by Brindley's interception and 20-yard line return to the 4-yard line. Borel scored on a 2-yard run with 51 seconds.
Utah's defense added a second safety on fumble late in the fourth quarter.
Andersen said returning to Utah, also his alma mater, was less emotional than he expected, but he was happy to have it all out of the way.
"Utah played a great game," Andersen said. "They made plays and we didn't. That was the difference."