Boise State's Ajayi sits, then runs wild

Broncos running back sparks the offense after QB Joe Southwick is hurt. © 2013 Idaho StatesmanOctober 20, 2013 

Jay Ajayi got a late start Saturday night against Nevada.

He made up for it quickly by establishing career highs with 24 carries and 222 yards, the fifth-highest total in school history.

“Jay definitely is our workhorse, and he did a tremendous job of running the ball and getting some extra yards,” Boise State offensive coordinator Robert Prince said. “He rarely went down with first contact, which always is very helpful.”

Ajayi, a team captain for the game, sat out the Broncos’ first two offensive possessions in favor of backup Jack Fields. Ajayi entered the game on the third drive and carried on the first six plays, gaining 32 yards.

It was just a preview of what was to come for the 6-foot, 220-pound rusher.

“I just knew that I was going to have to take advantage of the opportunities I get,” Ajayi said.

With starting quarterback Joe Southwick sidelined with an injury, Ajayi — the team leader in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns entering the game — took on an even larger role in the offense.

Ajayi finished the first half with 10 carries, 63 yards and one touchdown. In the third quarter, he really got going — and so did the Boise State offense. Ajayi carried 10 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns, including a 71-yard rush that gave the Broncos’ their first lead of the game at 20-17.

Ajayi’s yards were the most for a Boise State rusher since Ian Johnson rushed for 240 against Oregon State in 2006.

Boise State rushed for 407 yards as a team, the fifth-best mark in school history and the most since 2004 against Hawaii. Quarterback Grant Hedrick, Southwick’s replacement, rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns.

It was the first time since 2009 against Utah State that Boise State had two rushers with more than 100 yards in the same game.

Brian Murphy: 377-6444;Twitter: @MurphsTurph

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