It was a low-scoring game suited for the elements, but it was Fresno State’s players doing snow angels Saturday night in exuberance, not the home Boise State Broncos.
In a 19-16 overtime loss in the Mountain West championship, Boise State was buoyed by its defense and its outstanding running back, but the passing game and certainly special teams (again) left something to be desired.
“It’s really tough, didn’t want to have our last game at home end like this, but give Fresno State credit, they made enough plays to win and I thought we did, too,” Boise State senior quarterback Brett Rypien said.
Junior running back Alexander Mattison was the story for the offense, tying the school record with 40 carries and posting his second consecutive game with 200 yards rushing. His 34-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter tied the game, and with the game altered by weather, his running style was massively important.
“We knew the weather was a part of it in that decision to pound the rock,” Mattison said. “Things were working out for us up front; guys were getting some movement, so we decided to rely on the run game and at the end of the day we just didn’t get the job done.”
Rypien struggled, completing 15-of-31 for 125 yards and losing a fumble deep in Boise State territory. The Broncos got into Fresno State territory on six of their first seven drives, but mustered just seven points.
Time and time again, the Broncos bailed out the offense, especially late. They recovered a fumble with 4:11 left and the score tied at the Fresno State 45-yard line (that was followed up with a three-and-out). They also got a big sack that forced a punt after the Bulldogs got into Boise State territory with 1:29 to play.
But despite holding Fresno State to 288 yards of offense with the longest drive just 51 yards, some late missed tackles came back to haunt as the Bulldogs scored on a 1-yard run in overtime for the win.
“We take pride in playing well, forcing three-and-outs, but we lost, so it hurts — we couldn’t get a stop when we needed to at the end,” senior STUD end Jabril Frazier said.
Fresno State was 4-of-15 on third down but converted two of its last three, including the winning score. The Broncos forced two turnovers and had two sacks.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D-minus
A fitting end to a season full of head-scratching miscues in the kicking game, the Broncos missed a third quarter field goal and on what turned out to be the game’s biggest play, had an extra point blocked with 8:01 to play that would have put them up 14-13.
The Broncos went for it on a fourth down at the Fresno State 23-yard line in the second quarter instead of attempting a field goal, and the pass attempt into the end zone failed. Harsin said after the game special teams responsibilities fall on the entire team, not just the specialists or coordinator Kent Riddle. He said some changes will come in the offseason trying to fix those woes.
Punter Quinn Skillin was solid, averaging 39.1 yards per punt on eight attempts, and kicker Haden Hoggarth at least hit a 23-yard field goal in overtime. Fresno State kicker Asa Fuller was 2-of-2 on his field goals, a major difference in the win.