BOISE STATE 55, BYU 30
Three rivals up, three rivals down.
The Boise State football team completed an impressive October on Friday night at Albertsons Stadium with a 55-30 blowout of BYU.
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The Broncos, coming off an embarrassing loss at Air Force to end September, swept through Nevada, Fresno State and BYU to improve to 6-2 going into their second bye week.
“We’re very proud of that,” sophomore defensive end Kamalei Correa said. “We worked really hard and I really think we deserve this. With this bye week, we’re just going to keep building on it.”
The Broncos have rejuvenated a once-floundering season with imaginative, explosive play on offense and a defense that seems to come up with three-and-outs and turnovers when they’re needed most.
They’ll try to carry that momentum into a November slate of four Mountain West games, beginning Nov. 8 at New Mexico. The Broncos are 3-1 in league play and likely need to sweep four November games, too, to reach the conference championship game.
“They’re all must-wins,” senior quarterback Grant Hedrick said.
The way the Broncos played against BYU (4-4), they will be difficult to beat.
Boise State scored a season-high 55 points, including 41 in the first half, and generated 637 yards of offense.
Hedrick threw for 410 yards and four touchdowns to extend his October hot streak. He also rushed for a touchdown and accounted for a career-high 439 yards of offense, tied for the sixth-most in a game in school history.
Junior tailback Jay Ajayi continued his home rampage with 118 rushing yards, 26 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He has scored multiple touchdowns in nine of his 10 home games as a starter — for a total of 25 scores.
And the Broncos hit all kinds of entertaining plays — a couple deep balls, a reverse pass, a hook-and-lateral and a tight end screen among them.
“It was really fun,” Hedrick said. “We ran just about every play we had in the plan. It was crazy. After the game I said, ‘We used all of our bullets tonight.’ ”
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What a half
Boise State led 41-16 at halftime Friday night against BYU. The Broncos generated 429 yards of offense to the Cougars’ 198.
Boise State senior quarterback Grant Hedrick was 16-for-19 for 329 yards and three touchdowns in the half. He also rushed for 18 yards and a touchdown.
The Broncos hit a bunch of spectacular plays, including:
— A 78-yard touchdown catch by sophomore wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck. Hedrick threw with a defender in his face and hit Sperbeck down the left hash. Sperbeck cut all the way back to the right sideline to elude the defense and get into the end zone.
— A 49-yard touchdown pass from Hedrick to junior wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes on a trick play. Junior tailback Jay Ajayi lined up in the wildcat and took the snap. He handed off to Williams-Rhodes going left. Williams-Rhodes flipped to Hedrick going right on the reverse. Hedrick stopped and threw back to Williams-Rhodes down the left sideline. Williams-Rhodes turned on the jets and cut across the field for the touchdown. He ran 36 yards with the ball.
— A 48-yard completion to sophomore wide receiver Chaz Anderson, who made a great catch in tight coverage and hit the ground so hard he appeared to injure a shoulder. Anderson caught the ball at the 3-yard line. Ajayi scored on the next play.
— It didn’t gain much, but the Broncos also ran a hook-and-lateral. Hedrick threw to Sperbeck, who pitched to true freshman Jeremy McNichols for a 5-yard gain.
“It’s fun,” Hedrick said of the creative plays. “It’s like being a little kid in the back yard and drawing up trick plays.”
Boise State’s first-half output was the best since scoring 49 points last year against UT Martin.
Special teams delivers
The Broncos’ special teams had struggled to create big plays through the first half of the season. Late in the first quarter, walk-on wide receiver Dusty Fisher got down the field quickly on a punt and was pressuring punt returner Mitchell Juergens, who muffed it. Tailback Charles Bertoli spotted the ball, slid and recovered it just in front of a BYU player. The Broncos got the ball at the 13-yard line but settled for a field goal.
Another wacky pick six
For the second time in three games, Hedrick threw a pick six because of a protection error.
Hedrick looked to his left, and turned to the right to throw a swing pass to Jeremy McNichols. Linebacker Fred Warner read the play and came through unblocked to intercept the pass and run 20 yards for a touchdown.
Two games earlier, against Nevada, a defender tipped Hedrick’s pass near the line of scrimmage, caught the ball and ran for a touchdown.
“We needed to block (Warner),” Harsin said. “It’s a little like Nevada. The guy did a good job. He hit it. We needed to get a piece of him. Grant is just turning around and throwing that with trust and it didn’t work out.”
Boise State junior safety Darian Thompson grabbed his 12th career interception in the second quarter. That ties him for 10th in school history and gives him a one-pick lead on junior cornerback Donte Deayon on the current team.
Only four Broncos have recorded more in the Football Bowl Subdivision era (since 1996): cornerback Gabe Franklin (18 from 2001 to 2004), safety Marty Tadman (14, 2004-07), cornerback Brandyn Thompson (13, 2007-10) and cornerback Dempsy Dees (13, 1997-2000).
— Anderson left the game after his 48-yard catch and didn’t return. Harsin said he likely could have returned if needed. Anderson made three catches for a career-high 78 yards.
— Safety Jeremy Ioane, who played against Fresno State after missing three games, did not play against BYU.
— Redshirt freshman left tackle Archie Lewis did not play but was close, even trying to get into the game once, Harsin said. Junior Rees Odhiambo returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Sept. 6. He had played half the Fresno State game.
—Ajayi was tackled for a safety in the second quarter. His right leg — the one with the surgically repaired knee — got caught under the defender. He felt some pain and stayed on the turf until the trainers came out to check on him. Ajayi said he just wanted to be “better safe than sorry.” He didn’t miss any time.
The Albertsons Stadium cannon fired as Boise State was about to run a play late in the first quarter. Tight end Holden Huff moved and was called for a false start.
It was part of a tough first quarter for Huff. He fell in the end zone while running a route that might have got him a touchdown on the Broncos’ first drive and was hammered by a defender on a pass later in the quarter.
Pearson’s breakout game
BYU sophomore receiver Colby Pearson, a Blackfoot High graduate, posted the best game of his young career Friday at Albertsons Stadium.
Pearson scored on an 81-yard touchdown with 7:47 left in the second quarter on a pass from Christian Stewart for the Cougars' longest scoring play from scrimmage this season. He had five catches for 109 yards to lead BYU.
Pearson came into the game with seven catches for 82 yards and a touchdown this season. Earlier this week, he told the Salt Lake Tribune he chose a walk-on opportunity with the Cougars over the same with the Broncos.
After missing most of the previous two games with an ankle injury, BYU junior running back Jamaal Williams made his presence known once getting into the game in the second quarter Friday.
Williams had 28 yards on three carries on his first drive, including a 17-yard TD run that got the Cougars on the board with 9:12 left until halftime. He had 49 yards rushing at the half and 70 in the game.
Boise State wore its new gray pants with gray jerseys and pink accents in support of national Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the university’s Cancer Awareness Month. The student section was pink. Boise State’s single-game captains were Ioane and kicker Dan Goodale. Tight end Jake Hardee carried the Hammer. BYU won the coin toss and deferred. The attendance of 36,752 was just short of the stadium record, set for the 2012 BYU game. The record is 36,864. Sophomore defensive tackle Elliot Hoyte of England recorded a sack. He got his first career sack a week earlier against Fresno State. His dad, Nigel, came to Boise to watch the two games. BYU senior safety Craig Bills, the team's top tackler, returned after missing last week’s loss against Nevada because of a concussion. Senior linebacker Alani Fua, who entered the game with a team-high three sacks, suited up but did not play with an ankle injury. He has now missed three straight games. Freshman linebacker Fred Warner's 20-yard interception return for a TD in the third quarter was his first career interception and the Cougars' first defensive touchdown of the year. Boise State has won 11 straight home games. The only longer active streaks belong to Alabama, Auburn and Baylor (13 each). Hedrick (career-high 410 yards) became the first Boise State quarterback to throw for 400 yards since Kellen Moore on Sept. 16, 2011, against Toledo (455). Hedrick was the first to throw for 300 yards in the first half — he had 329 — since Moore vs. Hawaii in 2010 (322). Boise State has scored 79 points off turnovers (10 against BYU), tied for second-most in the country.
Coach Bryan Harsin
— On the three-game winning streak: “We learned obviously from that (Air Force) game. You give Air Force credit, but the one thing about our team — we need to really go out there and practice each and every day, one day at a time. We’re not good enough to just show up. In this game, so many things that happened in practice on both sides of the ball showed up. That’s probably what gets everybody excited from our side of things. It’s motivating. It’s neat to see that that translates into actual play.”
— On the emerging offensive playmakers: “One thing about having a guy go out and make plays is until you’ve seen him, it’s hard to really dial something up for him. More guys have made plays so there are more opportunities. It’s a little bit by need, too. When (wide receiver Matt Miller) is not on the field, again that’s a little bit of a level you lose and everybody else has to step up. More guys, with Matt being out, are stepping up and making plays and that’s why we’re getting that variety.”
— He said the Broncos’ wide receivers are gaining Hedrick’s trust in practice: “Trust is what I call consistency. If we’re doing it in practice, it should work out. To me, from our offensive standpoint, we’re more consistent. Guys are saying I’m going to get this done for you.”
— On Sperbeck: “For him to have this type of game, I don’t think it’s a surprise for anybody.”
RB Jay Ajayi
— On the winning streak: “The preparation we’ve been putting in in practice — if you guys were really at our practices, we’re having the best practices we’ve had in a long time. Coach Hars has really been stressing on us the power of great practices and how it presents itself in the game and how it shows up in games. We’ve really pushed ourselves the past three weeks.”
— On the offensive creativity: “It’s been great just to be able to throw those little wrinkles in there. It has to keep the defense honest. It allows us to have a little bit of fun.”
— On Hedrick: “That duded balled tonight. He really showed out. It was amazing. When we’re balanced, that’s when we’re most explosive and most dangerous.”
QB Grant Hedrick
— On the offense: “We’re taking care of the ball pretty well right now. That’s huge. We’ve kind of found our rhythm offensively, which is good. We need that. It’s a perfect time to find that rhythm. It seems like guys are really kind of figuring things out.”
— On the receivers: “All those big plays tonight, it was really their ability to run after the catch.”
— On Anderson’s recent deep catches: “It’s a momentum-changer and a game-changer. It’s huge. He’s kind of our playmaker right now in the long-ball game.”
S Darian Thompson
— On the defense regaining the team’s momentum: “Especially with the safety, that halted our momentum a little bit. To be able to get back out there and set the offense up for a touchdown, that was great.”
— On the physicality: “Our whole motto this week was ‘Bring the hammer.’ I feel like we did a great job tonight bringing the hammer on special teams.”
OC Mike Sanford
— On the offense the last three weeks: “I think honestly, guys have been establishing their roles in the offense. I think you get the ball distributed pretty evenly, you get a lot of different targets, and I think also that we've been patient with the run game, and myself. Doing a good job of trusting our offensive line and our backs to be able to work through the issues early in the game. In hindsight, that was what I felt was kind of my downfall as a coordinator in terms of what I could've done better in the Air Force game. I think we all know Jay's a guy that once you get him greased up in a game, he gets better and better as the game goes on. And our quarterback's playing really well. He's played well these last few weeks - I thought that last week, probably still to this day was probably his best game just playing championship football. A big emphasis going into this week was that we have to do a good job in the passing game, and our goal this week was to hit our shot plays down the field — and I think we did a pretty good job of that. That's execution of receivers, obviously execution at quarterback. We told the offensive line you've got to strain your tails off in protection, and they did that, that obviously changes a game. We challenged our receivers this game in particular, we feel like we've had a lot of good plays that have been dialed up down the field that have been thrown and completed at 38 yards, and that's kind of what we get. We wanted guys to go out and make that 38-yard gain into a touchdown - you saw that from Sperbeck, you saw that from Shane. They really responded to the challenge. It was fun seeing Shane after the game, he said, 'Hey coach, I thought you said I couldn't take a 10-yard completion and make it a touchdown.' He had some fun with that. He's a kid we've really respected the way he's been playing the last couple weeks.”
— On Hedrick: “I talked a little bit to the offense going into this game about playing with an edge, chip on our shoulder. I pointed out Grant after the Air Force game, going into Nevada, he was even in warm-ups had a chip on his shoulder, a little pissed off to be quite honest. He wanted to prove a point that I'm the guy for this job, I worked my tail off in the offseason and he went out and played that way. That was an example for our whole offense, pointing that out today, when Jay Ajayi plays a little angry, he's a different ballcarrier, when Marcus Henry plays a little angry, he's one of the better centers in the conference. There's times when you kinda have to create that own chip, and I thought those guys did a really good job to try to go out there and finish a game.”
— On Ajayi: “He's one of those guys, you try to get carries for other guys, but the reality is he gets better as the game goes on, so why prohibit that from happening.”
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall
“I was really encouraged that we made a stop and forced a field goal early, but really Boise State controlled the game from the opening kickoff, especially in the first half. They had thought-out plays, explosion plays, misdirection plays. And then played really good defense. I called every defensive play trying to help turn some momentum and generate some excitement and passion to play great defense. That was the best way I thought I might be able to help this evening. That did not help.”
BYU WR Mitch Mathews
“Those aren’t our true colors. I’m proud of how we played the second half, not the first half. The first half is why we lost the game.”
BYU QB Christian Stewart
“Yeah, this isn’t BYU football. We’re a winning program and a winning team and we’re going to get back to what we do and we’re not okay with anything but that.”
BSU — Dan Goodale 21 field goal, 12:21. Key plays: The Broncos started with a 17-yard run by tailback Jay Ajayi, a 16-yard reception by wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes and a 25-yard reception by wide receiver Chaz Anderson. Drive: 7 plays, 60 yards, 2:39. Boise State 3, BYU 0
BSU — Grant Hedrick 12 run (Goodale kick), 5:33. Key plays: Hedrick scrambled for 11 yards on third-and-6 and fired a 25-yard pass to wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck on second-and-17. Drive: 10 plays, 76 yards, 5:34. Boise State 10, BYU 0
BSU — Goodale 25 field goal, 14:56. Key plays: Boise State tailback Charles Bertoli recovered a muffed punt at the BYU 13 but a false start on the first snap got the drive off to a bad start. Drive: 4 plays, 5 yards, 1:33.
BSU — Sperbeck 78 pass from Hedrick (Goodale kick), 13:31. Key plays: The Broncos got pinned at their own 6 on a 76-yard punt. Ajayi got them some breathing room with a 16-yard run and Hedrick, facing pressure, hit Sperbeck on the deep ball. Sperbeck ran 30 yards across the field to escape the defense and score. Drive: 2 plays, 94 yards, :36. Boise State 20, BYU 0
BYU — Jamaal Williams 17 run (Trevor Samson kick), 9:12. Key plays: The Cougars converted three third downs — on catches by Colby Pearson and Jordan Leslie and a keeper by quarterback Christian Stewart. Stewart fumbled but Williams recovered. Drive: 13 plays, 65 yards, 4:19. Boise State 20, BYU 7
BSU — Williams-Rhodes 49 pass from Hedrick (Goodale kick), 8:05. Key plays: Ajayi ran for 12 yards and Sperbeck made a 17-yard grab. On the touchdown, Ajayi lined up in the wildcat and handed to Williams-Rhodes going left. He pitched to Hedrick on the reverse. Hedrick stopped and threw back to Williams-Rhodes down the sideline. Drive: 3 plays, 78 yards, 1:07. Boise State 27, BYU 7
BYU — Pearson 81 pass from Stewart (Samson kick), 7:47. Drive: 1 plays, 81 yards, :18. Boise State 27, BYU 14
BSU — Ajayi 3 run (Goodale kick), 3:39. Key plays: True freshman Jeremy McNichols gained 13 yards on a screen pass. On third-and-9 at the Broncos’ 49, Hedrick launched deep to Anderson down the left sideline. Anderson made a terrific catch in tight coverage as he hit the turf. Drive: 9 plays, 77 yards, 4:08. Boise State 34, BYU 14
BYU — Safety, Ajayi tackled in end zone by Logan Taele, 1:26. Boise State 34, BYU 16
BSU — Troy Ware 19 pass from Hedrick (Goodale kick), :42. Key plays: Safety Darian Thompson intercepted a Stewart pass to give the Broncos the ball at the BYU 24. Drive: 2 plays, 24 yards, :12. Boise State 41, BYU 16
BYU — Fred Warner 20 interception return (Samson kick), 11:54. Boise State 41, BYU 23
BSU — Jake Roh 8 pass from Hedrick (Goodale kick), 6:54. Key plays: Defensive end Kamalei Correa sacked Stewart on the 3,which led to outstanding field position at the BYU 36. Sperbeck made a leaping, 24-yard catch. Drive: 4 plays, 36 yards, 1:41. Boise State 48, BYU 23
BSU — Ajayi 2 run (Goodale kick), 8:21. Key play: Ajayi made a 28-yard catch at the BYU 2. Drive: 10 plays, 80 yards, 4:21. Boise State 55, BYU 23
BYU — Stewart 2 run (Samson kick), 5:11. Drive: 10 plays, 77 yards, 3:10. Boise State 55, BYU 30
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