Trailing by 39 points early in the third quarter to Boise State, Hawaii football coach Nick Rolovich had enough.
Maintenance crew members were asked to remove the team’s benches and take them out of Aloha Stadium, preventing the Warriors from being able to sit. It worked in that they outscored Boise State the rest of the way, but a minor victory it was.
On the other sideline, sitting, standing, passing, running, catching, the No. 22 Broncos were plenty comfortable in a 52-16 Mountain West rout Saturday in their most dominant effort of the season.
“We came out, started fast as we usually do, but the big thing for us was to play a good four quarters,” sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien said. “Well, for the starters, three quarters tonight.”
It was the sort of smooth win that had evaded Boise State (9-1, 5-1 Mountain West) most of the season. It reached a season-high in points and racked up a season-best 603 yards of offense. The Broncos’ starting offense was done for the night after Rypien’s 44-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck put them up 52-6 with 14:51 to play.
Hawaii (4-7, 3-4) has been outscored 279-53 by Boise State as the Broncos have won the past six meetings. The announced crowd of 18,286 was made up of plenty in blue and orange, happy to make the trip.
“As far as what we’ve been looking for, a lot of it happened today,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “... To travel this far and play as well as we did, it’s one of our better games all year long.”
In matching its win total from last season, Boise State forced two turnovers and took advantage, scoring touchdowns after both.
As if Boise State needed it, the Warriors were at times glad to help the cause. In addition to the turnovers, Hawaii ran into punter Sean Wale on a fourth-and-5 kick late in the first quarter, giving the Broncos a first down at the Hawaii 43-yard line. Five plays later, Rypien found junior tight end Alec Dhaenens for a 6-yard touchdown and a 21-0 advantage.
“That sudden change, when something happens, a penalty on the other team or a turnover, we just want to convert those opportunities into points,” junior running back Jeremy McNichols said.
The occasional lulls that had affected the Boise State offense were nowhere to be found — no jet lag or hopes to be on the beach anywhere. The Broncos scored on the first drive, going 84 yards in five plays over 2:25 that culminated in a 35-yard touchdown from Rypien to Sperbeck.
Boise State scored on eight of its 10 drives with the first-team offense on the field. Rypien, coming off one of his most efficient performances last week against San Jose State, was even better, completing 18-of-22 for 338 yards with four touchdowns, giving him as many incompletions as scoring passes. Junior Tommy Stuart, Rypien’s backup, got in for the second time this season and was 2-for-2.
“I think we’re clicking a lot better than we have all year,” Rypien said. “You want to be playing your best football coming into the end of the year, and I feel like we’re doing that.”
For the fourth time this season, Boise State had a pair of 100-yard receivers. Sperbeck had 114 yards and two touchdowns on five catches, and junior Cedrick Wilson had his second straight 100-yard game, going for 141 and a touchdown on seven catches. McNichols rushed for 153 yards, his eighth 100-yard game in the past nine.
“We got our one-on-one opportunities on the edges because we’ve been having so much success running the ball, and it makes my job so much easier,” Rypien said.
As Boise State took care of its own business and Hawaii was willing to help, perhaps the best help the Broncos got was from who they will play in Friday’s home finale, UNLV. The Rebels’ 69-66 win in three overtimes over Wyoming created a tie atop the Mountain Division standings.
Wyoming’s Oct. 29 win over Boise State looms large, but if the Cowboys lose to San Diego State or New Mexico the final two weeks and the Broncos win out, they’ll face San Diego State in the Mountain West championship game.
“Obviously we needed them to lose ... but I’m just focused on playing game in and game out, and that’s what we need to do to get where we want to go,” senior linebacker Tanner Vallejo said.
Added sophomore nose tackle David Moa: “I think what we have to do is keep winning, keep doing our own thing, keep putting the pressure on Wyoming so we might have that conference championship shot.”