Boise State Football

Now playing next to each other, two Boise State players cheered opposite sides of Nevada rivalry

Boise State’s Chase Hatada, Sonatane Lui on Nevada rivalry

Boise State defensive linemen Chase Hatada and Sonatane Lui talk about facing Nevada, who they grew up watching.
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Boise State defensive linemen Chase Hatada and Sonatane Lui talk about facing Nevada, who they grew up watching.

It is the game Boise State fans would love to forget, but two current Broncos will always remember what they saw in Reno in 2010.

Defensive tackle Chase Hatada and nose tackle Sonatane Lui, both juniors, were youngsters at the game at Mackay Stadium that November when Nevada scored a 34-31 upset win in overtime against national title hopeful Boise State.

They will play beside each other Saturday night in that very stadium — but eight years ago, they were on opposite sides.

Hatada’s stepmom, Holly, is a former Nevada dancer. Living in Rocklin, Calif., it was about a two-hour drive away. He attended about a half-dozen Nevada games, but he always supported the alma mater of his dad, Ian — “Boise State all the way,” he said.

“This is a game that’s going to be really exciting for me. I grew up going to games like this,” Hatada said. “... (That 2010) was a rough one, so I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while.”

Lui grew up in Reno and was a Wolf Pack fan before moving to Utah as high school began.

“I watched my first football game at UNR. I’m really excited to go back and see my family with a bunch of frowns on their faces, hopefully,” Lui said.

The pair will line up alongside one another Saturday, both playing on the Mackay field for the first time. Boise State hasn’t played at Nevada since a 51-46 win on Oct. 4, 2014.

Hatada has started the past four games with David Moa battling a calf injury, and with Moa out for at least the regular season, he’s taking his role very seriously. And he’s excited to face the Wolf Pack.

“Everyone’s kind of feeling it ... I think this one, there’s a little more meaning to it,” Hatada said.

The Wolf Pack had a bit of an impact on senior quarterback Brett Rypien, too. The first college football game he ever attended was Oct. 11, 2003, when Nevada beat Washington in Seattle. Rypien’s uncle, Chris Tormey, was the head coach.

“I was on the sideline for the entire game; that was one of the crazier things I’ve ever seen,” Rypien said.

MOA BACK IN 2019? TYLER IN 2020?

Moa, a redshirt senior, likely will miss the rest of the season with what he has described as a calf injury. Coach Bryan Harsin said Monday that Moa may return late in the season, perhaps to help in a Mountain West championship or bowl game.

If that happens, Moa would not get a hardship year to gain a sixth year of eligibility. His father said on Facebook they have already applied for it (which would mean he is unlikely to return) and that Moa has a torn Achilles. He would work on his master’s next year, and “hopes to come back a better, bigger football player.”

In a similar case, redshirt junior safety Evan Tyler is able to play through 2020, according to Boise State. He redshirted in 2015, suffered a season-ending injury the third game of 2016, and did not play last season with a knee injury.

[Related: Sports Pass subscription offers a year of sports coverage for $30; The 208 Podcast features Dave Southorn]

AN ATYPICAL HALFTIME MEETING

Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos got a bit emotional Monday when asked about his defense, which had to slow down San Diego State after the Aztecs started three first-half drives last Saturday at or inside the Broncos’ 31-yard line.

“I told them at halftime it was inspiring, the way they battled ... we always talk about defense starts with mentality, and they played with it,” Avalos said.

The Broncos allowed two field goals and a touchdown on those drives, which never covered more than 17 yards.

“When we sit there, we’re usually like, ‘what do we need to do,’ we get kind of anxious waiting for coach to walk in to tell us what we need to improve on and what we’re not doing good on, but that was a different feel than what he normally does,” junior linebacker Tyson Maeva said. “I thought he was kind of emotional and that really stuck with me ... made me want to play harder.”

Boise State held San Diego State to 267 total yards and nine first downs in the 19-13 loss. With the likes of Moa and DeAndre Pierce out with injuries, new voices stepped up in that locker room. According to teammates, sophomore STUD end Curtis Weaver stood up and said something to the effect of “this is when men are made.”

“When you have effort, magical things can happen,” Hatada said.

WILLIAMS BACK IN HIS ELEMENT

Sophomore cornerback Avery Williams, who had two punt return touchdowns last season, had not returned a punt since Sept. 1 when he dislocated his elbow at Troy. Against San Diego State, he came in to return two fourth-quarter punts.

Williams said the game plan was to put him in if the team needed a spark, and he said his last return, an 11-yarder, was close to being a big play. Boise State currently ranks 112th in punt return average (4.3 per return on 18 attempts).

“I take myself as a special teams leader. Now that I’ll be in the mix more, I feel like I can swoop this momentum in our direction, that I can be the special teams demon we’re looking for,” Williams said.

QUICK HITS

Boise State tight ends had 10 catches against Oklahoma State on Sept. 15, four total in all other games combined. Fresno State tight end Jared Rice had three catches for 96 yards last week against Nevada. ... When Boise State’s Joel Velazquez missed an extra point in the fourth quarter last Saturday against San Diego State, it snapped a streak of 157 made in a row, dating back to Nov. 27, 2015. ... Nevada sophomore receiver McLane Mannix’s father, Kevin, played on the 1988 Permian High team featured in the book and movie “Friday Night Lights.”

BOISE STATE AT NEVADA

When: 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday

Where: Mackay Stadium (27,000, FieldTurf), Reno, Nev.

TV: CBS Sports Network (Rich Waltz, Aaron Murray, Cassie McKinney); CableOne ch. 139/1139, DirecTV ch. 221, Dish Network ch. 158

Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)

Records: BSU 3-2, 1-1 (lost to San Diego State 19-13 on Saturday); Nevada 3-3, 1-1 (lost to Fresno State 21-3 on Saturday)

Series: Boise State leads 29-13 (won 41-14 on Nov. 4, 2017, in Boise)

Vegas line: Boise State by 16 1/2

Weather: Mid-50s, clear

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