RUSTON, La. -- There's just something about Aggies and Bulldogs getting together in the state of Louisiana.
No. 20 Louisiana Tech rallied from two 24-point deficits to force overtime with a field goal at the end of the fourth quarter, but Utah State denied the improbable -- and Tech's hopes of crashing the BCS -- with a 48-41 victory Saturday at Joe Aillet Stadium.
After Matt Nelson capped Louisiana Tech's furious surge with a 32-yard field goal on the final play of regulation, Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams scored on the third play in overtime to give the Aggies a lead.
Facing a fourth-and-3 at Utah State's 18, Louisiana Tech opted to run the ball up the middle, and that's where the game ended when Ray Holley was stopped for no gain.
"I don't know where to start," Utah State coach Gary Andersen said. "We knew it was going to be a game where at any point they could come back. They have done it all year long."
Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes said two plays were called on both third down (an incompletion) and fourth down, and quarterback Colby Cameron had his choice based on Utah State's defensive alignment.
"We should have run the ball on third down and passed it on fourth down," said Dykes, who was uncharacteristically emotional after the loss. "We may have suffered a bit of a letdown considering all the energy we used to get back into the game."
Led by quarterback Chuckie Keeton, Utah State started fast and rolled up 646 yards of offense to Louisiana Tech's 629.
Keeton had 340 yards passing (20 of 34), 121 yards rushing on 17 carries and four touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Aggies defense held the potent Bulldogs in check for more than a half to help Utah State (9-2, 5-0) tie a school record in victories and clinch at least a share of the WAC championship. The Aggies can take the outright conference title with a victory over Idaho (1-10) in next week's regular-season finale.
"It has been an unbelievable journey for four years," Andersen said. "It doesn't matter what happened, how it happened, why it happened or when it happened -- we got the game ball and we won. We are WAC champs and no one can take that away from us."
Louisiana Tech (9-2, 4-1) will not win back-to-back outright WAC titles and be one of the special few to bust the BCS from a conference without an automatic bid.
Dykes admitted the latter led to much of his postgame emotion. After his postgame news conference, he went up to two Orange Bowl officials and simply shook their hands, and his head.
"It was kind of a dream (to bust the BCS); a dream that maybe we had an opportunity to do something special," said Dykes, sporting bloodshot eyes. "Those chances don't come around very often."
Bulldogs quarterback Colby Cameron extended his NCAA record streak of 444 passes without an interception before Will Davis picked him off in the end zone with 52 seconds left in the second quarter.
However, Cameron's second interception of the season nearly sealed the Bulldogs' fate. On third-and-goal from the Aggies 11 with 4:44 left, Cameron threw into heavy coverage in the middle of the end zone and was intercepted by Utah State linebacker Jake Doughty.
"It's tough. You expect to win," Cameron said. "With the progress we've made, we've done so much to get opportunities like this. It's just not fun coming up short."
Cameron finished the game 35-of-60 passing for 396 yards but said he "messed up" on the third-down call in overtime.
"I thought we were running something else," he said.
Bulldogs wide receiver Quinton Patton led all receivers with 11 catches and 181 yards and freshman teammate Kenneth Dixon ran for 109 yards and two scores.
Williams piled up 162 rushing yards, 125 receiving yards and three scores.
"Just to see what we've been through as a team, this is special," said Williams, a senior who weathered back-to-back 4-8 seasons in 2009-10. "This is a great team and I'm proud to be a part of it."
Utah State made its statement immediately. The Aggies forced the Bulldogs into a three-and-out to stop the game before Williams took a screen pass from Keeton on Utah State's first play from scrimmage.
His 1-yard touchdown run with one minute left in the third quarter gave Utah State a 41-17 lead.
However, Louisiana Tech produced dramatics once again. In the game against Texas A&M on Oct. 13 in Shreveport, La., Louisiana Tech trailed 39-16 at halftime but fell 59-57 when a two-point conversion failed in the final minute of regulation.
NOTES: Louisiana Tech defensive lineman Kendrick James (normally No. 42) wore No. 22 in honor of Tyrone Duplessis, a Bulldogs running back who died of a heart attack in February. ... Matt Nelson passed current Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee to become Louisiana Tech's career scoring leader (347 points) with his 36-yard field goal early in the second quarter. ... Keeton set a season school record for total offense early in the third quarter. ... The announced crowd of 25,614 marked the third largest in Joe Aillet Stadium history.