With every chance he’s been given, Avery Williams has shown he belongs.
The former walk-on at Boise State started at cornerback for the second straight game and continued his dominance on special teams in Boise State’s 31-14 win over No. 19 San Diego State on Saturday at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego.
The 5-foot-9, 194-pound freshman scored the Broncos’ first touchdown of the game on a 53-yard punt return in the first quarter.
It was Williams’ second punt return for a TD this season, which is the most for a Boise State player since Kyle Wilson had three in 2008.
The Broncos had just two punt return scores from 2009 to 2016.
“I feel like I do a great job of trying to build momentum on this team, special teams, that’s also my role,” Williams said. “Any time I can give my team a boost in those aspects, I’m going to take the chance.”
As a redshirt last season, Williams earned Special Teams Scout Player of the Year honors, and he was awarded a scholarship on the first day of fall camp this year. He didn’t have a scholarship offer coming out of JSerra Catholic High in Pasadena, Calif., where he rushed for 1,175 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior.
In his collegiate debut against Troy on Sept. 2, Williams took a punt 81 yards to the end zone on the very first touch of his Boise State career. It was the fifth-longest punt return in school history.
Entering Saturday’s game, Williams led the Mountain West and ranked 12th in the nation with 13.8 yards per punt return.
Williams contributed a career-best six solo tackles and a pass breakup against SDSU, good for second on the team behind linebacker Leighton Vander Esch’s 11 total tackles.
How ’bout that defense?
Boise State kept Heisman Trophy candidate Rashaad Penny quiet for the majority of the game.
Through six games, the San Diego State running back ranked second in the nation with 143 carries for 993 yards. He also has two receiving touchdowns and a kickoff return touchdown.
But against the Broncos, Penny was limited to 53 yards and one touchdown on 21 touches — an average of 2.5 yards per carry. The Broncos have not allowed an opposing player to rush for 100 yards in a game this season.
Boise State’s defense was particularly stout in the first half, collecting all four of its sacks and 10 of its 12 tackles for loss. Jabril Frazier accounted for two sacks and two tackles for loss, and Curtis Weaver and Durrant Miles each registered one sack.
Miles’ forced fumble in the first quarter that led to Kekaula Kaniho’s 34-yard fumble return for a TD was the Broncos’ 11th takeaway this season.
In all, 10 different Boise State players had at least one tackle for loss against SDSU.
Mattison shows consistency
For the second straight game, sophomore running back Alexander Mattison eclipsed the century mark on the ground, rolling up a career-high 128 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries.
Mattison’s 118 yards against BYU last week was a career high at the time and stopped a six-game skid in which the Broncos had failed to have a player run for over 100 yards.
On a key drive late in the fourth quarter against San Diego State with the Broncos leading 24-14, Mattison broke off a 30-yard run to keep the chains and clock moving. He capped the nine-play, 70-yard drive with a 4-yard run for a TD.
Four Boise State players combined for a season-high 186 rushing yards.