Boise State Football

Special teams blunders ‘the difference’ as Boise State comes up short at Oklahoma State

Erase two plays on special teams, and perhaps it’s a different game for the Boise State football team.

Oklahoma State blocked a pair of Boise State punts — one in the second quarter and another in the third — and turned them both into touchdowns in a 44-21 victory at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Without those two plays, the Broncos could have been up 21-20 going into the fourth quarter instead of down 34-21.

“It was definitely the difference in the game,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy told ESPN after the game.

With about 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter, Quinn Skillin’s punt attempt on fourth-and-16 was blocked and recovered by Oklahoma State sophomore Amen Ogbongbemiga on the Boise State 7-yard line. Three plays later, OSU QB Taylor Cornelius scored on a 1-yard run for a 14-7 Cowboys lead.

[Related: A mistake-filled performance on the big stage, Oklahoma State exposes Boise State’s flaws, scoring summary]

It was the first blocked punt allowed by the Broncos since a loss at Air Force on Nov. 25, 2016. It was Oklahoma State’s 22nd blocked kick since the start of 2013, and the Cowboys entered the game ranked third nationally in that timeframe.

“They were fast up front. They had it dialed up,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “It wasn’t like we were surprised they were going to come after it, but they came after it and they got it.”

Boise State sophomore punter Joel Velazquez didn’t fare any better against the Cowboys.

After the Broncos had been forced into a three-and-out, Oklahoma State freshman Jarrick Bernard broke through the line and smothered Velazquez’s punt attempt. Za’Carrius Green recovered the ball and easily ran it in for a 17-yard score to put the Cowboys up 34-14 with 5:11 left in the third quarter.

Those two blocked punts weren’t the only special teams mistakes that proved costly for the Broncos. Kicker Haden Hoggarth’s 26-yard field goal attempt with 5:21 left in the first quarter clanked off the left upright, a sign of what was to come for the Broncos, who would have taken a 3-0 lead had he converted.

Career day for tight ends

Boise State’s deep wide receiving corps soaked up much of the attention in the Broncos’ first two games of the 2018 season.

The tight ends got their turn Saturday against Oklahoma State.

After recording just two total catches against Troy and UConn, Boise State tight ends combined for eight grabs in the first half and 10 in the game.

It was a career day for redshirt senior Chase Blakley and redshirt sophomore John Bates, with both surpassing their career totals for receptions before halftime.

Blakley, a Coeur d’Alene High grad who missed nearly two full seasons due to injury, doubled his previous career total with six receptions for 30 yards and the first touchdown of his Boise State career.

The 6-foot-4, 239-pound Blakley had just three career grabs for 44 yards heading into Saturday’s game. Brett Rypien hit Blakley with a 5-yard pass on fourth-and-goal with 1:30 to go in the third quarter.

Bates, who scored the first TD of his career last week vs. UConn, brought down four passes for 49 yards against the Cowboys. The 6-6, 246-pounder had a total of three receptions for 34 yards in 2017.

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