Boise State blitzed in Hawaii Bowl

Broncos crushed after a lackluster first-half performance at Aloha Stadium.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comDecember 25, 2013 


    • 2013 Hawaii Bowl: Oregon State 38, Boise State 23

    • 2012 MAACO Bowl: Boise State 28, Washington 26

    • 2011 MAACO Bowl: Boise State 56, Arizona State 24

    • 2010 MAACO Bowl: Boise State 26, Utah 3

    • 2010 Fiesta Bowl: Boise State 17, TCU 10

    • 2008 Poinsettia Bowl: TCU 17, Boise State 16

    • 2007 Hawaii Bowl: East Carolina 41, Boise State 38

    • 2007 Fiesta Bowl: Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42 (OT)

    • 2005 MPC Computers Bowl: Boston College 27, Boise State 21

    • 2004 Liberty Bowl: Louisville 44, Boise State 40

    • 2003 Fort Worth Bowl: Boise State 34, TCU 31

    • 2002 Humanitarian Bowl: Boise State 34, Iowa State 16

    • 2000 Humanitarian Bowl: Boise State 38, UTEP 23

    • 1999 Humanitarian Bowl: Boise State 34, Louisville 31

— After all the historic highs, the Chris Petersen Era of Boise State football ended with a series of lows.

Oregon State stuffed Boise State into its worst first-half deficit in 15 years Tuesday night at Aloha Stadium and won the Hawaii Bowl 38-23.

The Broncos, who were 92-12 under Petersen and 0-1 under interim coach Bob Gregory, finished this season 8-5.

It’s their first five-loss season since 1998 (6-5), fewest wins since 2001 (8-4) and first season without a bowl win or conference title since 2007 (10-3).

Their four-game bowl winning streak and five-year run of beating at least one Pac-12 team ended, too.

“We went 8-5 this year, and we’re not used to that,” Boise State junior wide receiver Matt Miller said. “This program expects perfection, and we’re striving for that every day.”

Oregon State snapped a five-game losing streak to finish 7-6. The Beavers scored touchdowns on three of their four red-zone possessions, and their only turnover was on a pass in the closing seconds of the first half.

“It had been awhile since we’d won but this team never quit,” coach Mike Riley said. “We went through quite a bit of adversity through the year, and had some clunkers and some good football ... but we won it today and feel really good about it.”

The Broncos outgained the Beavers 538-454, topped them in first downs 28-22 and entered the red zone on four of their five second-half drives.

But they fell into a 38-6 hole thanks to a series of blunders, including two fumbles returned for touchdowns. They trailed 31-6 at halftime — the program’s worst first half since a 42-0 debacle in 1998 at Louisiana Tech.

“You just can’t overcome those (turnovers),” Gregory said. “I don’t think our guys gave up. I think they played their fannies off for four quarters. We did not make the plays that we should have made.”

The game capped a wild month for the Broncos, who lost their coach to Washington on Dec. 6 and senior quarterback Joe Southwick to a team-rules violation on Friday.

Still, players and coaches said the focus was there.

The execution was not.

“There were a lot of distractions for us, but we have a resilient group of guys. I felt we were focused coming into the game,” said Miller, the team MVP with 206 receiving yards. “Everybody was looking like we were going to come out and play really well, and it just didn’t happen.”

Oregon State, which was pass-happy all year until the regular-season finale against Oregon, used a balanced attack. Quarterback Sean Mannion was efficient (24-for-33, 259 yards, TD) and star wide receiver Brandin Cooks made some plays (eight catches, 60 yards, TD), but the 195 rushing yards from the Beavers kept the chains moving and milked enough second-half clock to keep the Broncos out of reach.

The Beavers also scored two TDs on the ground, including a 5-yard run by Storm Woods early in the third quarter that gave them that 32-point lead.

The Beavers, who average 34.5 points per game, scored 24 points on offense and only seven in the second half.

“I thought we played OK, but it wasn’t good enough,” said Gregory, who is the linebackers coach. “We needed to make more plays.”

Senior cornerback Rashaad Reynolds provided the two biggest plays for the Beavers, scoring on fumble returns of 3 and 70 yards in the first half, and was named team MVP.

On his first TD, the Broncos were pinned on their own 6-yard line after a couple of ugly plays. Quarterback Grant Hedrick dropped back into his own end zone and was pressured by two Beavers. Defensive end Scott Crichton forced the fumble and Reynolds easily scooped the ball for a 17-3 lead in the first quarter.

The Broncos pulled within 17-6, made a fourth-and-1 stop and were driving midway through the second quarter when Reynolds struck again. Hedrick completed a pass to receiver Troy Ware, who lunged forward to try to secure the first down.

Instead, Larry Scott knocked out the ball. Reynolds grabbed it along the sideline and dashed 70 yards untouched for a 24-6 advantage.

“I was Johnny on the spot,” Reynolds said.

The Broncos never were closer than 14 points after the first quarter.

Now they head into the offseason with some uncertainty about the program’s future. New coach Bryan Harsin continues to build his staff and next month will need to rebuild the recruiting class.

His players get a few weeks off but say they’ll return eager to improve.

“A big chip on our shoulder,” Miller said. “Hopefully we have the best offseason we’ve ever had around here. Change is coming to our program.”

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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