Boise State Football

Despite ‘Tom and Jerry’ moment, Boise State pass rusher matches school record

One of the best pass rushers in Boise State football history enjoyed one of the best nights in school history Saturday against Portland State.

Junior STUD end Curtis Weaver sacked Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander four times — moving into third place on the Broncos’ career sacks list.

“When he gets a 1-on-1, he’s going to make a play,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “... That’s one of the things Curtis has developed, a really good — almost elite — first step.”

[Related: Cool moments in a big win; Instant Analysis: What did we learn at QB?; Boise State seeks answers to QB hits problem; drive chart]

Weaver’s final sack was his most resounding — and, perhaps, most important. The slippery Alexander had dodged Weaver multiple times and on one sack Weaver had to grab him by a shoe. But the last one was a clean shot — and it came on second-and-10 at the Boise State 18-yard line. The sack, an ensuing false start and a short run forced a 44-yard field-goal attempt that sailed wide left, preserving Boise State’s season-long, second-half shutout.

“It’s a big thing,” Weaver said. “The attitude changes, you can tell, in the second half. Our No. 1 goal is finding that same attitude to bring to the first half.”

Weaver could have had at least one more sack. Late in the first half, he missed Alexander at the beginning of a play and fought his way back to the quarterback for a second chance — only to miss again.

“It’s like ‘Tom and Jerry’ out there,” Weaver said. “I look in his eyes and, next thing, I don’t know where he is. He’s a great athlete.”

Weaver, 6-foot-3, 265 pounds, now has 26.5 career sacks. He entered the game tied for fourth in school history with Shawn Anderson (1988-91) at 22.5 and passed Anderson and Greg Sabala (23.0, 1990-93).

Weaver also is the FBS’ active career leader in sacks. He is four ahead of second-place Joe Gaziano of Northwestern and has played 12 fewer games.

Chris Wing (1994-96) owns the No. 2 spot in program history with 32 sacks.

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Boise State wide receiver John Hightower (16) runs for 98 yards past Portland State’s Anthony Adams (14) and the rest of the Vikings on the Broncos’ first kick off return Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

Hightower to the house

Boise State senior wide receiver John Hightower showed off his blazing speed on Portland State’s first kickoff of the game, racing all the way across the field from right to left and then down the sideline for a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. That tied for the fifth-longest kickoff return in school history.

Hightower’s return was also the first TD return on a deep kickoff in coach Bryan Harsin’s six-year tenure. Avery Williams returned an onside kick for a touchdown last year. The previous TD on a deep kick was 100 yards by Bryan Douglas in 2013.

Harsin credited tight ends coach Kent Riddle, who lost his special teams coordinator title after last season, with creating the scheme that put Hightower in the end zone.

“We had game-changing special teams happen, finally, and that’s good,” Harsin said. “... John’s really fast.”

Portland State defender ejected

Portland State senior safety Romeo Gunt was ejected for targeting in the second quarter. His helmet struck Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier in the jaw area as Bachmeier completed a touchdown pass to Hightower.

Gunt led the team with 19 tackles in the first two games.

Pierce out; Mahone returns

Boise State starting safety DeAndre Pierce, who was injured against Florida State, missed his second straight game. Left tackle Ezra Cleveland and right tackle John Ojukwu sat out with injuries, too.

Running back Robert Mahone and wide receiver CT Thomas, both starters, returned to action. Mahone injured a shoulder against Marshall and Thomas missed the Marshall game.

Quick hits

The Broncos wore all orange for the orange out in the stands. ... Sophomore wide receiver Khalil Shakir was the single-game captain. ... Redshirt freshman Dylan Herberg of Timberline High carried the Hammer. ... Portland State won the coin toss and took the ball. ... Boise State’s kickoff-return for a touchdown in the first quarter gave the Broncos a first-half lead for the first time this season. ... Punter Joel Velazquez, who has a stronger leg than starting kicker Eric Sachse, missed a 51-yard field-goal attempt wide right in the second quarter. ... Boise State and Wisconsin are the only teams in the nation that haven’t allowed a second-half point. Boise State, Auburn and Wyoming are the only teams with three comeback wins.

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