Boise State’s Bryan Harsin on Fresno State win: ‘Tonight was about the fourth quarter’
Early in Friday’s game, Boise State senior quarterback Brett Rypien broke passing records. Later, he broke tackles.
Rypien broke the Mountain West records for career yards passing and completions in the first quarter, and used his legs — yes, really — to keep drives alive in the second half. He had 30 yards on eight carries, and minus a 3-yard sack, his 33 yards gained on the ground were the most in his career.
“He might’ve been holding that back,” junior running back Alexander Mattison said.
Better late than never, in this, Rypien’s 47th game at Boise State.
Rypien uncorked a 10-yard run on the final play of the third quarter on a third-and-4, hurdling the outstretched arm of Fresno State linebacker Jeff Allison on the way. He also had another 10-yard run in the fourth quarter, keeping it on a third-down read option play. Mostly, it was the defense keying on Mattison, but Rypien was confident, keeping it and scooting around the edge for the first down.
“It was just me trying to make a play, there were some third-down situations where they were dropping in a zone ... felt like their eyes were off me,” Rypien said. “That was probably the easiest I would ever have to make on a zone read, they were crashing down pretty hard.”
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 finished the game with 269 yards passing on 24-of-29 completions with a touchdown and an interception. He now has 981 career completions, which passes Lindley’s mark of 960.
Rypien is second in school history in passing yardage. 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).
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.
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 came into the game 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.
Without the two tight ends, the Broncos used true freshman center Kekaniokoa Holomalia-Gonzalez as a fullback, and he made his debut on the first play of the fourth quarter on Mattison’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Big play from unexpected source
Sophomore tight end John Bates had just one catch for 3 yards in the six games prior to Friday’s win, but he made a huge play that gave the Broncos some much-needed momentum.
Trailing 17-3 and the Broncos facing a third-and-16 at the Fresno State 49-yard line, Rypien found a safety valve in Bates about 5 yards downfield, but the 6-foot-6 tight end broke a tackle and turned it into 15. Mattison got the first down the ensuing play on a fourth-and-1, then scored the Broncos’ first touchdown five plays later.
Boise State wore all blue. ... Boise State punt returner/cornerback Avery Williams carried the Hammer. ... Fresno State won the coin toss and deferred. ... Junior safety Kekoa Nawahine led Boise State with 10 tackles. ... Sophomore STUD end Curtis Weaver had a sack, giving him 19.5 for his career, which puts him already at No. 9 in school history. ... Sophomore safety Jordan Happle and redshirt freshman linebacker Zeke Noa made their first starts for the Broncos. ... Fresno State is now 0-10 against Boise State at Albertsons Stadium when the turf is blue. The Bulldogs last won here in 1984. ... Coming into the game, Fresno State allowed just six passes of more than 30 yards. Boise State had two Friday, covering 41 and 49 yards.