Thomas Sperbeck needed just 34 yards Thursday to break the all-time receiving yardage record at Boise State. He wasted no time getting the milestone, and on his birthday, nonetheless.
The senior wide receiver had a 13-yard reception on the Broncos’ second drive, and five plays later hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Brett Rypien. On the second play of the third drive, with 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter, Sperbeck took a 20-yard catch and run from Rypien to pass Titus Young as the No. 1 receiver in Boise State history.
“That’s awesome ... that worked out pretty well,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.
Young set the record with 3,063 yards in 43 games from 2007-10. Sperbeck, who had nine catches for 109 yards Thursday, has 3,139 receiving yards in 42 games. All but 40 of those yards have come in his past 34 contests.
Sperbeck is fifth among active Football Bowl Subdivision players in career yardage. His 100-yard game against BYU was the 13th in his career, tying for the most in Boise State history with Ryan Ikebe (1993-96). Sperbeck took a hard shot in the fourth quarter and left the game for a few plays as he was looked at by trainers, but came back into the game.
“He needed a minute ... he’s going to be fine, Thomas is one of the toughest guys we’ve been around,” Harsin said.
BUTLER STRUGGLES AGAIN
Sophomore receiver Akilian Butler has been Boise State’s primary punt returner this season, but he has had more miscues than successes, twice calling fair catches inside the 5-yard line. He also had his third muffed punt of the year Thursday. It was recovered by BYU at the Broncos’ 34-yard line in the third quarter, but the defense forced a punt on the ensuing drive. Butler was replaced by junior receiver Cedrick Wilson afterward.
“Every one of our coaches coaches special teams, so this is our entire staff,” Harsin said. “... are we good enough? No. We have a lot of things to get better at, and we will.”
KNIGHT MAKES AN IMPACT
Sophomore tight end Jake Knight (Rocky Mountain High) had his second career reception in the forurth quarter. On third down, he took a pass from quarterback Brett Rypien on a crossing route for 46 yards down to the BYU 4. Running back Jeremy McNichols scored on the next play to give the Broncos a 28-27 lead. It was the first reception by a Boise State tight end since Oct. 1 against Utah State.
“I saw Jake Knight run faster than I’ve ever seen him,” Harsin said. “... he’s a good football player. That was maybe that moment, good football players need moments to really explode into being great players. Jake Knight has been fantastic. That proved to be an unbelievable play.”
Said Knight: “It slows down for me, usually. So it was kind of slow-mo, that whole play.... I thought I was going to house that.”
Boise State sophomore receiver Sean Modster had the best game of his young career with four catches for 82 yards, including a 56-yarder. ... Scouts and representatives from two CFL teams and eight NFL teams were credentialed for the game. From the NFL, the Redskins, 49ers, Buccaneers, Titans, Dolphins, Chargers, Vikings and Giants were on hand. Among them was 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke. ... Boise State wore blue helmets, blue jerseys and blue pants. BYU wore white helmets, white jerseys and blue pants. ... True freshman RB Alexander Mattison carried the Hammer for Boise State. ... The Broncos won the coin toss and chose to receive. They’ve started with the ball in all seven games. ... During the game, longtime Utah Senator Orrin Hatch tweeted “It's impressive that BYU has kept the game this close despite Boise State's very clear camouflage advantage.” ... Boise State improved to 7-2 on Thursdays. ... Senior right tackle Mario Yakoo missed the game because of an injury. He started the first six games. Redshirt freshman John Molchon got his third start in the last four games in his absence. ... Senior linebacker Tanner Vallejo led the Broncos with 11 tackles.