By Eric Lambkins II
Sports Reporter 

Aggies win in Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl caps an improbable run


December 30, 2021

Jevone Moore

Utah State's Offensive Player of the Game Deven Thompkins celebrates the win over Oregon State in the LA Jimmy Kimmel Bowl with the team's mascot last Saturday.

You don't go from 1-5 to 11-3 in a single year in college football. It simply does not happen. One would need a roster of relentless and exceptional players and a coaching staff capable of motivating and inspiring an army of lambs to face a pride of lions. A coach would need defensive players who enjoy when the offense turns the ball over, a nation-leading wide receiver committed to being the greatest ever, and a back-up quarterback who has never thrown a pass in a college game.

Fortunately for the Utah State football team, they have a head coach, Blake Anderson, and a roster of gritty ballers prepared to make school history. Utah State fans saw their Aggies upend their second Power 5 football team on the year, defeating the Oregon State 24-13 at the inaugural Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.

Before the game, Kimmel brought tons of quirks and laughs. He had a mascot named "Jimmy Kammel," a t-shirt cannon fresh out of a Looney Tunes cartoon, and Kimmel played the clarinet and marched in formation with Oregon State's marching band.

During the game, more quirkiness abounds. In the waning moments of the first quarter, Utah State's starting quarterback Logan Bonner was knocked out of the game with a knee injury. Coach Anderson inserted sophomore Cooper Legas, who had not thrown a single pass in his college career before the game.

However, his coach believed in his abilities, his team rallied behind him, and Cooper delivered. Defensive end Nick Heninger and wide receiver Deven Thompkins stated that Legas being hurled into the spotlight typified this team's season.

"I went over and grabbed Coop, and I just told him, 'It's time to step up. And then, I told all the wide receivers 'We got to help Coop build his confidence -- to give him that confidence to play good,'" Thompkins said. "And honestly, he didn't even need it. He was ready to go, and it showed the future that he's gonna have here as a Utah State Aggie."

Legas connected with Thompkins along the sideline for a 62-yard bomb on his first attempt as a college quarterback. Legas would finish the day 11 for 20 for 171 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

Thompkins, the offensive player of the game, finished with 115 receiving yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Calvin Tyler, Jr. carried the ball 26 times for 120 yards, a touchdown, and a fumble.

"I'm kind of glad we fumbled at the end," Heninger stated. "It's such an Aggie thing to do. The defense got to go out there one more time. But, for some reason, we like to make it exciting. Right? It's good TV. There you go ABC."

Jevone Moore

Utah State swarmed Oregon State throughout the competition. Then, in the top of the fourth quarter, down 14 points with the Beavers threatening to score in the red zone, Heninger took the game into his hands. Heninger forced a field goal after a huge sack on Beaver quarterback Chance Nolan. Heninger, who was emotional after playing his last collegiate game, said through tears, "Hopefully I left a legacy that won't be forgotten."

Coach Anderson stated the importance of the win on his program. "This is just the beginning," Anderson said. "It clearly shows that some special things can happen in Logan, Utah, and in the Mountain West."

Follow Eric on Twitter @elambsquared and IG @elamb5quared.


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