RUSTON, La. — Utah State had lost its offense, its 24-point lead and any semblance of momentum.
Kerwynn Williams and the Aggies' defense made sure they didn't lose the game.
Williams rushed for a 4-yard touchdown in overtime and Utah State stopped Louisiana Tech's prolific offense in just four plays to lift the Aggies to a 48-41 overtime victory over the No. 19 Bulldogs on Saturday.
"We knew victory was close if we wanted it," Williams said. "We just had to go out there and take it from them. That was a great team we played tonight and they battled back. We knew we'd have to take this one."
The win gives Utah State (9-2, 5-0 Western Athletic Conference) at least a share of the conference title, with only lowly Idaho left on the schedule.
And boy, did the Aggies have to earn it.
Keeton threw for 340 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns for Utah State (9-2, 5-0), which recovered to win despite giving up what looked like an insurmountable lead.
Williams added 162 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 125 yards and a touchdown.
His 1-yard touchdown run gave Utah State a 41-17 with 1:00 minute remaining in the third quarter.
It looked like a backbreaker. But Louisiana Tech roared back, tying the game on Matt Nelson's 32-yard field goal as time expired in regulation.
"Things can go wrong at times, but that can't determine the rest of the game," Williams said. "You have to keep your head on straight and power through."
The Aggies scored on their first offensive play – an 86-yard touchdown after a screen pass from Keeton to Williams – and racked up 646 yards of total offense.
Louisiana Tech's Colby Cameron threw an interception late in the second quarter, snapping his NCAA-record streak of 445 pass attempts without an interception.
Cameron completed 35 of 60 passes for 396 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Utah State improved its record to 2-50 against nationally-ranked teams, including a 1-39 mark on the road.
Keeton, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound sophomore from Houston, made several big plays with his arm and his feet. The Aggies needed all of them.
"When you have an athletic quarterback who is smart and can throw the ball, it's a vicious weapon," Utah State coach Gary Anderson said. "This team believes in Chucky. The coaching staff believes in Chucky. He's doing great things and will continue to do great things."
Even with the heroics by Keeton and Williams, it looked like this one might slip away from the Aggies.
But Louisiana Tech's overtime drive fell short, with a fourth-and-3 run falling well short of the first down marker.
"Maybe we were a little emotionally done at that point," Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes said. "We battled so much to get back in – I don't know if we ran out of gas down the stretch."
Utah State continues an excellent stretch of football under Anderson, who is in his fourth season. The Aggies have won five straight and 14 of 17 dating back to last season – the best run for the program since the early 1970s.
Next to Louisiana Tech's shocking offensive numbers this season, Utah State's looked pedestrian. The Bulldogs came into the game among the nation's best in nearly every offensive category, averaging 53.4 points and 576.5 yards per game.
Utah State frustrated Louisiana Tech's offense at first.
"We felt like other teams weren't getting in their face, especially when they started scoring," Utah State cornerback Will Davis said.
He was the one who picked off the pass to end Cameron's completion streak.
"We just felt that we had to get aggressive," Davis said. "The refs let everybody play and it was an aggressive game. They score a lot of points and they went off in the second half, but we were fighting the whole time."
The Aggies led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and had a 245-40 advantage in total yards.
The two teams traded field goals in the second quarter and Utah State took a 17-3 lead into halftime. The Bulldogs had a chance to score a touchdown late in the second quarter, but Cameron's pass was intercepted by Davis in the end zone.
Utah State struck again on the first drive after halftime. A big 43-yard pass from Keeton to Chuck Jacobs set up Keeton's 13-yard touchdown run one play later, and the Aggies took a 24-3 lead, which was stretched to 27-3 minutes later after a 30-yard field goal.
Louisiana Tech's offense finally woke up midway through the third quarter with an 11-play, 78-yard drive that ended with Kenneth Dixon's 2-yard touchdown run and pulled the Bulldogs within 27-10.
Dixon finished with 113 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
From that point, the Bulldogs were moving the ball fine. They just couldn't stop the Aggies.
Louisiana Tech came into the game ranked No. 20 in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings and hoped to be the latest outsider to crash the BCS party. Now the Bulldogs probably won't even win the WAC title.
If anything, it was the Aggies who looked like they were worthy of national consideration.