The Boise State football team roared back from a 14-point, second-half deficit Friday night at Albertsons Stadium to beat No. 16 Fresno State 24-17.
The Broncos trailed 17-3 early in the third quarter but dominated the rest of the night, due largely to the running of tailback Alexander Mattison. True freshman wide receiver Khalil Shakir added a 49-yard touchdown catch for the decisive score and cornerback Avery Williams blocked a field goal and broke up a fourth-down pass to preserve the victory.
Boise State improved to 8-2 overall, 5-1 Mountain West. Fresno State dropped to 8-2, 5-1. If both teams win their next two games, they’ll meet again Dec. 1 in Boise for the Mountain West championship game.
The Broncos play next Friday at woeful New Mexico and close the regular season Nov. 24 at home against No. 14 Utah State. The Bulldogs have San Diego State and San Jose State left.
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Fresno State built a 10-3 halftime lead Friday night against Boise State at Albertsons Stadium in a half full of missed opportunities.
The Broncos dominated the first quarter and held the ball in Bulldogs territory on all five of their first-half drives. Those drives ended with a missed field, a made field goal, a punt, a botched fake field goal and an interception.
The Bulldogs dominated the second quarter. They took the lead with an impressive touchdown drive but missed a field goal on their next possession and settled for a field goal on the final drive of the half after mismanaging the clock.
Boise State outgained Fresno State 211-186 in the first half. QB Brett Rypien was 13-for-16 for 149 yards and tailback Alexander Mattison had 13 carries for 53 yards. Fresno State QB Marcus McMaryion was 12-for-15 for 125 yards and a TD.
BSU — Khalil Shakir 49 pass from Brett Rypien (Haden Hoggarth kick), 9:22. Key plays: The Broncos converted two third downs on the drive, including a third-and-8 on the deep-post TD strike. Rypien had a 10-yard run the other third down, then RB Alexander Mattison followed it up with a 14-yard run, then a 2-yard run to set up the touchdown. Drive: 7 plays, 83 yards, 2:31. Boise State 24, Fresno State 17
BSU — Alexander Mattison 1 run (Haden Hoggarth kick), 14:57. Key plays: Mattison and QB Brett Rypien led the charge, with Rypien hitting A.J. Richardson for 8 yards from the Fresno 25 on a third-and-5. On third-and-4 from the 11, Rypien pulled down, hurdled the outstretched arm of LB Jeff Allison and dove to the goal line. Mattison plunged in the next play. Drive: 11 plays, 59 yards, 5:16. Fresno State 17, Boise State 17
BSU — Alexander Mattison 7 run (Haden Hoggarth kick), 5:56. Key plays: Mattison ran like a man possessed on the drive, churning out yardage (36 rushing, 9 receiving). A 15-yard gain with a nice broken tackle by TE John Bates on a pass from Brett Rypien turned a third-and-16 into a fourth-and-1 that Mattison converted with a 4-yard run to the Fresno State 30. Drive: 12 plays, 70 yards, 5:40. Fresno State 17, Boise State 10
FS — Ronnie Rivers 1 run (Asa Fuller kick), 11:42. Key plays: Fresno State marched downfield quickly with gains of 26, 24 and 19 yards the first three plays to get to the Boise State 6. QB Marcus McMaryion was stopped at the goal line on a sneak, but Rivers scored on fourth down. Rivers fumbled and Boise State recovered, but he was ruled to have just crossed the goal line before he lost control. Drive: 7 plays, 75 yards, 3:18. Fresno State 17, Boise State 3
FS — Asa Fuller 47 field goal, 0:00. Key plays: The Bulldogs got some help from the Broncos when LB Tyson Maeva was flagged for unnecessary roughness following a Fresno State first down on a third-and-1 sneak. It brought the ball into Boise State territory. The Bulldogs moved to the Broncos’ 22-yard line, but intentional grounding on QB Marcus McMaryion made the field goal longer, and Fuller barely made it. Drive: 7 plays, 37 yards, 1:14. Fresno State 10, Boise State 3
FS — KeeSean Johnson 3 pass from Marcus McMaryion (Asa Fuller kick), 14:12. Key plays: The Bulldogs were the recipients of a very strange play, a 38-yard pass on third-and-8 to the Broncos’ 14 on which Johnson was ruled to be forced out of bounds, then came into play to make the deep catch. Two plays later, a 9-yard McMaryion pass to RB Ronnie Rivers got the Bulldogs to the 3. McMaryion stepped up in the pocket with pressure and hit Johnson for the TD in the back of the end zone. Drive: 9 plays, 83 yards, 2:51. Fresno State 7, Boise State 3
BSU — Haden Hoggarth 35 field goal, 6:37. Key plays: Hoggarth hit the field goal after missing his first attempt from 50 yards. Holder Quinn Skillin did a good job corralling a low snap. The Broncos took advantage of two Fresno State penalties early in the drive and avoided disaster when safety Mike Bell dropped a likely interception inside the red zone on a trick play pass from WR CT Thomas to QB Brett Rypien. Drive: 9 plays, 62 yards, 4:05. Boise State 3, Fresno State 0
NEWS & NOTES
Hightower joins Boise State injured list
Boise State junior wide receiver John Hightower is out for Friday’s game against Fresno State, the school announced before the game. Hightower pulled up short on a route last week against BYU and didn’t return to the game because of the injury.
Hightower is tied for third on the team with 30 catches and is second with a 16.5-yard average as a productive deep threat. He also is the team’s second-leading rusher with 163 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries.
Others out Friday include tight end Garrett Collingham, tight end Matt Pistone and wide receiver Octavius Evans. The Broncos already had announced that leading tackler Riley Whimpey would be out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Rypien breaks records
Boise State senior quarterback Brett Rypien broke the Mountain West career record for passing yards on the first play Friday, a 41-yard completion to wide receiver Sean Modster. That gave Rypien 12,696 yards in his career.
Rypien broke the mark set by San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley, who had 12,690 yards from 2008 to 2011.
Rypien is second in school history. Kellen Moore threw for 14,667 yards from 2008 to 2011 but his production was split between the WAC (2008-10) and Mountain West (2011).
Rypien broke Lindley’s Mountain West record for career completions later in the first quarter.
New bowl option for Mountain West?
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson met with media before Friday’s game, and was understandably optimistic about his league with four teams 7-2 or better.
Thompson said he feels the conference is in good shape if UCF falters or doesn’t win the American conference. He even suggested the Fiesta Bowl would be wise to nab the Mountain West champ as an at-large for the regional appeal even if UCF runs the table.
On the topic of bowls, following the 2019 season, the Las Vegas Bowl will no longer be a Mountain West bowl, switching to Pac-12 against SEC. Thompson had said in July that there was a chance a second Las Vegas bowl could be created, but said Friday that appears unlikely. However, he did say a new option could be coming.
“I don’t want to put the cart ahead of the horse … but I’m really excited about the potential replacement we’re looking at for the Las Vegas Bowl. It’s a destination our fans would really like, in all likelihood would be against the Pac-12. It’s a new opportunity, but that’s as far as I’ll go right now.”
In July, Thompson said publicly there could be a third Phoenix-area bowl game added in addition to the Fiesta and Cheez-It. With a renovated Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, that could be a landing spot for a new game.
Broncos add D-line commit
Boise State got a verbal commitment this week from Yorba Linda (Calif.) High defensive lineman Michael Callahan, the Broncos’ third addition to the 2019 class in a week’s span.
Callahan (6-foot-4, 246 pounds) had offers from Hawaii and Utah in addition to most Ivy League schools, including Princeton and Harvard.
He’s the ninth known commitment of the class, but the second defensive player, as Callahan joins STUD end/linebacker Casey Kline on the list.
Boise State wore all blue. ... Boise State punt returner/cornerback Avery Williams carried the Hammer. ... Fresno State won the coin toss and deferred. ...