BOISE STATE 60, NEW MEXICO 49
A preview of my game story in Sunday’s paper:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Boise State junior safety Darian Thompson boiled down 1,285 yards of offense, 109 points and 15 touchdowns to its core meaning for the Broncos football team.
“It just keeps us in the running,” Thompson said.
Boise State overtook New Mexico with a dominant fourth quarter for a 60-49 victory in an unexpected shootout Saturday night at University Stadium.
The win keeps the Broncos in contention for the Mountain West Mountain Division title.
For the first outright Mountain West championship in school history.
For a New Year’s Six bowl berth, however unlikely that seemed while they allowed 42 first-half points.
Boise State (7-2 overall, 4-1 MW) won because the offense generated 60 points and 658 yards without a turnover, because the defense only allowed seven points in the second half and because the Broncos outscored the Lobos (3-6, 1-4) 19-0 in the fourth quarter.
The Broncos overcame a 14-point deficit to win for the first time since the 2006 game against Oregon State. New Mexico led 28-14, 35-21 and 42-28 in the first half. The Lobos’ largest lead in the second half was 49-38.
“It says a lot about our team — offense and defense both were encouraging each other on the sideline,” senior quarterback Grant Hedrick said. “Everybody knew we were going to win the game. We didn’t know how, we just felt like we were going to win the game, which was good — that’s a good attitude to have. And it carried us through the rest of the game.”
Hedrick threw for 367 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 131 yards and two more TDs. He’s the first Bronco in at least 15 years with a 300/100 game.
Junior tailback Jay Ajayi added 161 rushing yards, 75 receiving yards and three total touchdowns.
The Broncos topped 50 points for the third time in four games.
“It’s good that we’re scoring,” Hedrick said. “We’ve moved the ball well throughout the season. Finally, we’re starting to score a lot more points. And we still left a few out there.”
The Broncos’ defense allowed a school-record 505 rushing yards, including 417 in the first half. But the group rallied in the second half to hold the Lobos to 197 total yards and seven points.
Sophomore Chanceller James replaced senior captain Corey Bell at safety and redshirt freshman Joe Martarano replaced senior Blake Renaud at middle linebacker.
Otherwise, defensive coordinator Marcel Yates stuck with his original game plan.
“There were no adjustments,” Yates said.
So what happened?
“We played football,” James said. “We bonded together as brothers and stopped their offense.”
Coach Bryan Harsin
— On the win: “I was thinking about the whole week on the run back off the field there. We had some people come talk to us. We talked about team all week and that was really a big theme for us and here it is. At the end of the game, we’re winning this game because our team played well together. There’s a lot of things, I know, in the first half that you want to have back — some bad things. I think we were all kind of shaking our heads because we feel like we have the right stuff and we’re just not making plays and we knew they could make plays.”
— On New Mexico’s run game: “I saw a running back from New Mexico hit the hole hard downhill and he’s gone. They were hitting us inside. The thing that helped us is we were able to slow it down on the inside run game where it forced them to go outside and when they started going sideways that was to our benefit.”
— On defensive changes: “If you think the scheme is right, then you have to do some personnel changes. That’s not a knock on anybody else. That’s part of the game. Those guys (who were replaced) were fantastic. They weren’t in, but they were supportive. We were able to make enough plays from those changes to slow it down.”
— The Broncos failed on both two-point tries in the second half. The first included left tackle Rees Odhiambo going in motion and lining up as a receiver to the right. The Broncos wanted to throw left. “They dropped a guy right into it,” Harsin said. “The odds of them doing it they did.” On the second one, Jay Ajayi got the ball in the wildcat. The Broncos missed a call on the edge and the play got blown up. Harsin called the play. “It wasn’t a good call in that situation,” he said.
QB Grant Hedrick
— On no turnovers: “With the way that game was going, it won us the game. If we had turned it over, it could have been a totally different game for us.”
— On Chaz Anderson’s TD: “It was great to get Chaz in the end zone. He’s made a lot of great plays for us, big plays. It was fun to have him actually score a touchdown.”
DC Marcel Yates
— “You saw some bad defense tonight.”
— On the first-half problems: “Very frustrating, especially because I could see it so well in the box. That’s the one thing about option football — you have to be disciplined and fit your gaps. Everybody has a gap, everybody has to do their job and when certain guys aren’t doing their job or not fitting it right or not in the right place or guessing, you can get creased a little bit.”
— On second-half adjustments: “That’s what people would think, that it was an adjustment, but honestly there were no adjustments. That’s probably the frustrating thing, to give up 42 points in the first half and then come back and give up seven in the second half and not make any adjustments at all. I mean, I didn’t change the scheme and I didn’t change what I was calling. We just had guys fitting their gaps and doing their job.”
— On benching defensive captain Corey Bell: “It’s always hard to do, but at the same time, it’s about doing what’s best for the team and for our group. Against the option, we felt like Chanceller (James) was probably the best thing to do and he played well.”
RB Jay Ajayi
— On scoring on the first play: “We talked about that being the opening play and coach (Mike) Sanford told me, ‘Hey, don’t be afraid to score on the first play,’ and it just happened to open up so great like it did and I just tried to take it all the way to the house and I did.”
— On the fourth-down stop: “My roommate Chance James smacking my boy (quarterback Lamar Jordan) and getting him short. That was a big play for Chance. I’m so proud of him for stepping up in that big moment and I was just really excited for us to get the ball back because I knew we would take care of business like we did.”
S Chanceller James
— On fourth-down stop: “The refs thought I had him short, so I had him short.”
— On his role: “I’m like the utility guy. Wherever they need me, I go in. Any time my number is called, I’m just proud to go in and ready to do my job.”
S Darian Thompson
— On the team’s mood in the first half: “Guys get frustrated, they try to play the blame game sometimes which is not good, but we have to remind them as leaders just to relax and let the coaches take over and trust their technique and that’s what we were able to do and come together as a defense to finish off the game strong.”
— On halftime adjustments: “Just simple corrections on the plays they were getting us right up the middle, the coaches wrote it on the dry-erase board and we were able to go out there and make the corrections and finish strong as a defense.”
OC Mike Sanford
— “The biggest thing was collectively from the top, starting with coach Harsin all the way down to the bottom, everybody involved in the organization kept their poise. We probably learned from our Air Force game. You get down a little bit and you panic a little bit and you start to get out of your element of who you are offensively and what your game plan was. We did a good job of maintaining the poise and never panicking and never getting to a point where players had that ‘let down’ about them. It was a true team win.”
— On the first two plays going for TDs: “I thought it was maybe just an aberration. It was going to go back to what you thought the game was going to be. I’ll tell you what, they’ve got some guys who can roll. They had some speed. I was very impressed with the way they played.”
— On Anderson’s touchdown: “That route was kind of on the tip of my tongue for a couple of quarters actually. It was a very heavy run tendency in that formation. We were able to get low safeties and blow the top off the coverage.”
New Mexico led Boise State 42-35 after a first half that featured almost no defense.
The Lobos outgained the Broncos 430-420 and outrushed them 417-197. The Broncos had the edge in passing yards (223-13), first downs (22-9) and plays (50-26). Neither team committed a turnover.
New Mexico averaged 16.5 yards per play. The Lobos nearly broke the Boise State opponent record for rushing yards in a game in the half (440, vs. Idaho, 1975) and did eclipse the record in the third quarter.
Boise State averaged 8.4 yards per play, which usually is good. Quarterback Grant Hedrick rushed for a career-high 117 yards and two touchdowns in the half.
New Mexico scored on a 75-yard run, a 100-yard kickoff return, a 49-yard run and a 75-yard run.
Boise State scored on a 75-yard screen pass.
Both teams went 75 yards on their opening play. It was the first time the Broncos scored on their first play since tailback D.J. Harper went 80 yards in 2012 against Colorado State.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” New Mexico coach Bob Davie said at halftime on the CBS Sports Network broadcast.
Monster game for Hedrick
Boise State senior quarterback Grant Hedrick was 21-for-32 for 367 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. He also rushed 15 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
His 498 yards of total offense ranks fourth in school history. He had the second 100-yard rushing game of his career.
“I’m very proud of him for being able to accomplish that,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “I’m more proud of his toughness. In a critical game when you’re trying to push and push and you’re behind, most quarterbacks are going to throw an interception, they’re going to try to squeeze something in there, and he was very calculated. In the run game, I mean tough — absolutely tough. I thought he was nails tonight. Couldn’t ask for more from Grant, what he did with the offense. We put 60 points up on the board. That’s a good night. It shouldn’t be close as it is when you do stuff like that.”
Hedrick is one of four nominees for the Capital One Cup Impact Performance of the week. Fans can vote for him here.
“He was awesome, he really was,” offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said. “I was just blown away by how dynamic he was tonight.”
Since Hedrick was benched Sept. 27 at Air Force, he has been on fire. He is 92-for-124 for 1,313 yards and 11 touchdowns with two interceptions. He also has rushed for 256 yards and four touchdowns. He has a 189.19 rating in those games.
“He’s such an explosive player,” Ajayi said, “and just to see how his game has been elevating as our season is coming to its final stretch has just been great because he’s our leader on offense and for our leader to be playing lights out right now is just really comforting for the offense and our team and I really feed off of that as well.”
Another 1,000 for Ajayi
Ajayi rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries to go over the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season and over the 3,000-yard mark for his career.
He’s the seventh Bronco with multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons and the seventh with 3,000 yards.
Ajayi has 1,146 rushing yards this season and 3,119 in his career. He is on pace to challenge Ian Johnson’s school record of 1,713 yards in 2006 and to crack the top four for career rushing yards.
Ajayi has 1,564 yards from scrimmage this season. He went 75 yards for a touchdown on his only catch against New Mexico, the longest play from scrimmage in his career.
Anderson’s first TD
Boise State sophomore wide receiver Chaz Anderson has become a productive deep threat but he hadn’t found the end zone until Saturday, when he scored the game-winning TD on a leaping, 36-yard catch at the goal line.
Anderson was unable to make the catch on a deep ball in the first half.
“That’s one thing we talked about with him,” Sanford said. “ ‘Hey, we’ve got to get you in the end zone. We’ve had a lot of good plays down the field, but we’ve got to get you home.’ And he got home.
“I kind of challenged him a little bit at halftime after the deep ball we threw earlier in the game. It was a contested deep ball, slightly underthrown. I said, ‘You’ve got to make those plays.’ And he did, in the biggest moment, and I think that should be on ‘SportsCenter.’ ”
More long runs
Boise State had allowed four runs of at least 40 yards in its previous four games (and none in the first four), which put the Broncos among the nation’s worst in that category for the season.
New Mexico did better than that in the first half alone. The Lobos had runs of 75 (TD), 57, 61, 49 (TD) and 75 (TD) yards.
Two blocked kicks
Boise State didn’t block a kick in its first eight games this season. The Broncos blocked two Saturday night. Defensive end Beau Martin blocked a field goal in the first half and defensive end Kamalei Correa stuffed a punt in the second half.
Correa’s play was the first blocked punt for the Broncos since 2011.
Lewis starts at right tackle
Boise State redshirt freshman Archie Lewis started at right tackle in place of sophomore Steven Baggett, who started the first eight games.
Lewis started four games at left tackle when Rees Odhiambo was injured. He was held out of the BYU game because of a minor injury.
Boesen, Lukehart stay home
Boise State redshirt freshman defensive end Mat Boesen and junior safety Dillon Lukehart did not make the trip. Lukehart stayed home because of a health issue, coach Bryan Harsin said. He did not provide a reason for Boesen’s absence.
Boesen was third on the team with three sacks. Lukehart is one of the Broncos’ top special-teamers.
Boesen was arrested in July on misdemeanor charges of inattentive or careless driving and resisting or obstructing officers. He has a hearing on that case Nov. 17. He was not suspended for any games. He was cited for speeding — 16 or more mph over the limit — on Halloween, according to court records.
The Broncos wore blue pants, white jerseys and blue helmets. LB Darren Lee and Ajayi were the single-game captains. RB Charles Bertoli carried the Hammer. Boise State won the coin toss and deferred. Safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner appeared to sustain a leg injury during the game. He also wore a cast on his left hand/wrist. Official attendance was 21,089. Boise State clinched its 17th straight winning season, from 1998 through 2014. WR Thomas Sperbeck set career highs with nine catches for 164 yards. Pressley didn’t play in the second half because of an injury. New Mexico leading tackler Dakota Cox left with a likely knee injury late in the game. “The Dakota Cox injury is just devastating,” Lobos coach Bob Davie said.
NM — Jhurell Pressley 75 run (Zack Rogers kick), 14:49. Key play: Pressley took the handoff on the first snap, going right, and cut upfield untouched. Drive: 1 play, 75 yards, :11. New Mexico 7, Boise State 0
BSU — Jay Ajayi 75 pass from Grant Hedrick (Dan Goodale kick), 14:37. Key play: Hedrick tossed a screen to the right to Ajayi, who had nothing but open field in front of him. Drive: 1 play, 75 yards, :12. New Mexico 7, Boise State 7
NM — Pressley 2 run (Rogers kick), 9:07. Key play: Teriyon Gipson busted through the left side of the line for 57 yards on the first play of the drive. Drive: 3 plays, 60 yards, 1:02. New Mexico 14, Boise State 7
BSU — Hedrick 13 run (Goodale kick), 5:03. Key plays: Hedrick fired a 20-yard strike to wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck with a defender in his face on third-and-11. Wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes added an 11-yard catch on second-and-10 and Ajayi busted a 15-yard run on second-and-10. Drive: 11 plays, 75 yards, 3:56. New Mexico 14, Boise State 14
NM — Ridge Jones 100 kickoff return (Rogers kick), 4:52. New Mexico 21, Boise State 14
NM — Gipson 1 run (Rogers kick), 1:53. Key plays: The Lobos stopped the Broncos on fourth-and-9, then Pressley escaped down the left sideline for 61 yards on the next snap. Drive: 3 plays, 62 yards, :55. New Mexico 28, Boise State 14
BSU — Ajayi 4 run (Goodale kick), 8:54. Key plays: Hedrick ran for 13 yards and drew a personal foul for a late hit on the first play of the drive. Hedrick tossed a 5-yard pass to Sperbeck on third-and-5 and a 27-yard fade to Sperbeck on the next play. Drive: 6 plays, 69 yards, 2:33. New Mexico 28, Boise State 21
NM — Gipson 49 run (Rogers kick), 6:36. Key plays: Cornerback Donte Deayon tipped the first-down pass but it was complete for a 15-yard gain. The touchdown came on fourth-and-1. Drive: 5 plays, 73 yards, 2:18. New Mexico 35, Boise State 21
BSU — Hedrick 35 run (Goodale kick), 2:47. Key plays: Sperbeck made catches of 17 and 8 yards. Hedrick scrambled for 14 yards and gained 2 yards on a fourth-and-1 sneak. Drive: 9 plays, 75 yards, 3:49. New Mexico 35, Boise State 28
NM — Jones 75 run (Rogers kick), 2:35. Drive: 1 play, 75 yards, :12. New Mexico 42, Boise State 28
BSU — Williams-Rhodes 8 pass from Hedrick (Goodale kick), :30. Key plays: Williams-Rhodes made a 16-yard catch and Hedrick scrambled for 10 and 12 yards. Drive: 9 plays, 75 yards, 2:05. New Mexico 42, Boise State 35
BSU — Goodale 30 field goal, 10:13. Key plays: Defensive end Kamalei Correa stuffed a punt to give the Broncos the ball at the Lobos’ 10-yard line. The offense went nowhere. Drive: 4 plays, -3 yards, 1:22. New Mexico 42, Boise State 38
NM — Gipson 1 run (Rogers kick), 6:42. Key plays: Quarterback Lamar Jordan began hurting the Broncos with his arm. He hit tight end Reece White for 21 yards to start the drive and wide receiver Tyler Duncan for 27 yards on fourth-and-4. Drive: 8 plays, 75 yards, 3:31. New Mexico 49, Boise State 38
BSU — Goodale 25 field goal, 2:23. Key plays: Sperbeck made a 26-yard catch and Troy Ware added a 14-yard grab. The Broncos bogged down in the red zone with three straight unsuccessful runs. Drive: 10 plays, 67 yards, 4:19. New Mexico 49, Boise State 41
BSU — Williams-Rhodes 18 pass from Hedrick (Hedrick run failed), 11:13. Key plays: Ajayi gained 19 yards, then Hedrick floated a 31-yard strike to Sperbeck on a double-pass play. Drive: 4 plays, 68 yards, 1:08. New Mexico 49, Boise State 47
BSU — Chaz Anderson 36 pass from Hedrick (Ajayi run failed), 7:00. Key plays: The Broncos got a stop with help from a face-mask penalty, which gave them the ball near midfield. On fourth-and-4, Hedrick hit Sperbeck for 10 yards. Anderson made a leaping catch at the goal line on the next play. Drive: 5 plays, 52 yards, 1:35. Boise State 53, New Mexico 49
BSU — Ajayi 14 run (Goodale kick), :38. Key plays: Ajayi carried on all six plays. Drive: 6 plays, 49 yards, 3:31. Boise State 60, New Mexico 49
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