Cooper Legas threw his first collegiate pass for a 62-yard touchdown and threw a second touchdown pass in the third quarter to lead Utah State to a 24-13 victory over Oregon State Saturday evening in the inaugural Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.

Legas completed 11 of 20 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and a 149.8 efficiency rating in place of Logan Bonner, who suffered an undisclosed injury in the first quarter and did not return.

Legas was selected as the offensive MVP and received what was described by organizers as a “big, bold belt” in lieu of a trophy, as did defensive end Nick Heninger, the defensive MVP and the Utah State team.

Legas threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Deven Thompkins on Utah State’s first play of the second quarter, tying the score, 7-7, in front of a crowd announced at 29,896 for the first college football game at SoFi Stadium.

After Everett Hayes kicked a 37-yard field goal for Oregon State on the ensuing drive, the Aggies took the lead for good on their next possession, with an 11-play, 85-yard drive culminated by former Beaver running back Calvin Tyler Jr.’s 15-yard touchdown run.

Conner Coles kicked a 25-yard field goal for Utah State (11-3) on the opening drive of the second half. The Aggies increased their lead to 24-10 on Legas’ 5-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Bowling with three minutes, 49 seconds left in the third quarter.

Hayes kicked a 34-yard field goal with 13:35 left for the fourth quarter’s only points. Utah State drove to the Beavers’ 1-yard line with less than 3 minutes to play but Tyler fumbled with linebacker Omar Speights recovering for Oregon State in the end zone for a touchback.

The Beavers (7-6) opened the scoring on the first drive on receiver Jesiah Irish’s 20-yard touchdown run, one play after Chance Nolan threw a 39-yard pass to Zeriah Beason, Oregon State’s longest play.

The Beavers outgained the Aggies, 415 yards to 382 and led 30:34-29:26 in time of possession but trailed 26-23 in first downs.

Legas is a redshirt sophomore from Orem, Utah whose only previous college experience came on the final drive of the Aggies’ 35-10 victory over New Mexico Nov. 26.

Bonner completed six of 10 passes for 68 yards with one interception before being injured. The 68 yards increased his season total to 3,628, breaking the previous school single-season record of 3,567 set by Jordan Love in 2018. Love was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Tyler ran for a game-high 120 yards on 26 carries, the third-highest total of his 26-game college career.

Tyler graduated from Oregon State in the spring of 2021 with a communications degree and is working on his master’s degree in sports management. Tyler played in 14 games for the Beavers from 2017-20, rushing for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries.

Bonner entered Saturday’s play 18th among Football Bowl Subdivision players in passing yards per game, averaging 273.8.

Nolan completed 21 of 30 passes for 263 yards with one interception for a 137 passer rating.

Utah State’s victory completed one of college football’s best turnarounds in its first season under first-year coach Blake Anderson, who coached Arkansas State to a 51-37 record from 2014-20.

The Aggies’ 10-game improvement from 2020, when they were 1-5, under matches Michigan for the most among FBS teams. The Wolverines have a chance to increase their total when they face Georgia in a College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Orange Bowl New Year’s Eve.

Baylor would also have a 10-game improvement with a victory over Mississippi in the Sugar Bowl New Year’s Day.

Utah State completed the season with eight victories in its last nine games, including a 46-13 victory over San Diego State in the Mountain West Football Championship Game on Dec. 4 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, which put them in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.

Oregon State completed the season with losses in four of their final six games.

Beavers defensive back Alex Austin was ejected with less than five minutes to play when he punched Aggies’ receiver Justin McGriff after the play. Austin was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention selection, a Long Beach Poly alumnus and a son of Long Beach Councilman Al Austin II.

The bowl game was supposed to make its debut last year, but was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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