Bronco Beat

Game recap: Utah State ransacks Boise State 52-26 as Broncos commit eight turnovers

UTAH STATE 52, BOISE STATE 26

Dave Southorn’s game story

Final game stats

LOGAN, Utah — The Boise State football team committed its most turnovers in 26 years and allowed the most points in 17 years in a blowout loss Friday night at Utah State.

The Broncos committed eight turnovers, including seven in the first half. Three of those turnovers came in the final 3 minutes of the half and turned a 24-10 hole into a 45-10 gulf.

It was their most turnovers since committing 12 in 1989 against Montana.

“It wasn’t mistake-prone,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “We didn’t hang onto the ball.”

Said Utah State coach Matt Wells: “The key to the game was obviously those turnovers and turning them into touchdowns. Both sides fed off each other’s energy and production. The stats are pretty even except for that one thing.”

The 35-point halftime deficit was the largest since a 42-0 deficit in 1998 at Louisiana Tech. That game (a 63-23 loss) also was the last time the Broncos allowed 52 points in regulation.

True freshman quarterback Brett Rypien faced the first true adversity of his career. He was 25-for-50 for 299 yards and no touchdowns with three interceptions, four sacks and two lost fumbles (88.23 rating).

Junior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck, who didn’t have a catch in the first half, made six catches for 156 yards. But he fumbled early in the second half.

Senior Kelsey Young and junior Devan Demas replaced injured tailback Jeremy McNichols. They combined for three touchdowns but averaged 3.0 yards per carry.

The Broncos’ defense allowed four straight scoring drives in the first half and didn’t force a turnover after getting 13 during the four-game winning streak. They also surrendered two-play and one-play touchdown drives late in the first half during the turnover deluge.

Utah State’s star linebackers, Nick Vigil and Kyler Fackrell, combined for 25 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

The No. 21 Broncos fell to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the Mountain West. Utah State improved to 4-2, 3-0. The Aggies beat the Broncos for the first time since 1997.

Wells called the win “maybe the greatest win in this program’s history.”

“It isn’t the championship but it puts us in the driver’s seat,” he said. “We’ll control our own destiny and that will be a challenge. It’s a challenge our guys will gladly accept.”

NOTABLE QUOTES

Coach Bryan Harsin

— “Well first, give Utah State credit. They played well tonight. Tough place to play. Coach Wells had his team prepared. I think the big key, you look at the turnovers, that’s really the key ingredient in any game. We’ve been on the other side of it.”

— On the mistake-prone performance: “It wasn’t mistake-prone. We didn’t hang onto the ball. I don’t think you’re going to find, unlike maybe other games we played, mistakes, just from doing our assignments. It’s about hanging onto the football. I thought the guys fought. we knew what type of circumstances we put ourselves in and we had to dig our way out and we tried to get the momentum and there was a turnover crated. The ball bounces funny sometimes. ... What showed up tonight with the turnovers, that’s something you’ve got to be able to overcome and there was just too many.”

— On the final 3 minutes of the first half: “That was a tough one. I didn’t think our team or our players deflated. They just knew they had a bigger challenge to overcome. Eventually, time is going to run out. You’re fighting the clock.”

— On Utah State’s defense: “When there was a tip, they were around the football. When we had a chance for a big play and broke out, we had the ball punched out from behind. They were right there. They challenged every single play we had, which we expected.”

— On Rypien: “I thought he competed. One of the things that you want to see from your quarterback, especially in a game like this, is that he’s going out there and just keep competing and not take something off the ball and not go out there and throw timidly. I don’t think he did that. In a loss there, you still see Brett go out there and compete in really tough circumstances. That’s part of it because we’re going to see that somewhere else down the road.”

— “We’ll never bury our heads in the sand and say it didn’t happen. We’re going to go find out why and we’re going to go practice it. I always start with me. One thing I’ll say about our team, our team always plays hard. If we’re not successful, then that starts with me because I never question our guys’ effort, never question their heart, never question about what they did in their week of prep.”

— On the Mountain Division race: “we don’t control our destiny. We’ve been in this situation before and we had a chance to win it (last year). You’re obviously going to have to have some things go your way to help you out.”

— “I don’t think you can ever sit there in a game and be shocked by it. I don’t think anybody — Utah State or us — expected everything to go that way.”

Center Marcus Henry

— On whether the Broncos were ready to play: “Absolutely. They just dialed us up on the right day, and they did an awesome job. Give them credit. They brought a couple blitzes, but I mean, we did our best to pick up everything cleanly. Players got to make plays, can’t have that many turnovers.”

— On the division race: “We still play for the championship. It kind of sucks it’s not in our hands anymore, but we’re going to play as hard as we can every game.”

— On the second half: “Got to come out swinging. It was definitely a tough first half. You have to come out thinking you’re going to win, thinking you’re going to do something, that’s what we tried to do.”

— On whether the Broncos were prepared for Utah State’s intensity: “I thought we were well prepared going into the game, just didn’t execute the way we were supposed to.”

Safety Darian Thompson

— On what went wrong: “I felt like we didn’t tackle well as a unit. Something we’re going to go back and work on this week is tackling, just playing with great eyes and doing our assignments.”

— On whether the Broncos were ready to play: “I guess when the kickoff happened, we just weren’t ready to play. We did everything the same as we usually do, the locker room seemed fired up before the game, but when it started, they came out with more fire.”

— On the defense getting put in bad situations: “It happens, it’s the game of football. We just try to go out there and do what we do. We try to stop the offense, limit them to the least amount of points possible and if we get put in a bad situation, it’s all right. We’re supposed to be able to get out of it.”

— On how to explain the poor showing: “I can’t explain it. What happened, happened. You guys saw it. We didn’t protect the ball, like I said, and we didn’t make tackles. The only thing we can do is get back to work.”

SCORING SUMMARY

BOISE STATE 3 7 7 9 26
UTAH STATE 17 28 7 0 52

FIRST QUARTER

BSU— Tyler Rausa 46 field goal, 12:36. Key plays: Shane Williams-Rhodes returned a punt 38 yards for excellent field position but tailback Kelsey Young tripped for a 6-yard loss on a swing pass. Drive: 4 plays, 5 yards, 1:20. Boise State 3, Utah State 0

USU— Wyatt Houston 2 pass from Kent Myers (Brock Warren kick), 7:33. Key plays: Running back LaJuan Hunt took a short pass from quarterback Kent Myers and made star safety Darian Thompson miss in the open field. Defensive end Kamalei Correa caught him to prevent a TD, but Hunt gained 51 yards. The touchdown came on play action on fourth-and-1 at the Boise State 2. Drive: 9 plays, 71 yards, 4:57. Utah State 7, Boise State 3

USU— Jake Thompson 51 field goal, 3:22. Key plays: Myers hit wide receiver Brandon Swindall over the middle for 17 yards on third-and-6. Correa and nickel Chanceller James combined for a sack that helped stall the Aggies. Drive: 7 plays, 26 yards, 3:17. Utah State 10, Boise State 3

USU— Hunter Sharp 10 pass from Myers (Warren kick), :54. Key plays: Defensive end Ricky Ali’ifua sacked and stripped quarterback Brett Rypien and linebacker Kyler Fackrell recovered at the Boise State 11-yard line. The touchdown came on third-and-9 with Sharp beating cornerback Donte Deayon to the inside. Drive: 3 plays, 11 yards, 1:18. Utah State 17, Boise State 3

SECOND QUARTER

USU— Hunt 4 run (Warren kick), 14:29. Key plays: Linebacker Nick Vigil sacked and stripped Rypien and the Aggies recovered at the Boise State 15-yard line. Houston made a 9-yard catch on second-and-8. Drive: 4 plays, 15 yards, :43. Utah State 24, Boise State 3

BSU— Kelsey Young 1 run (Rausa kick), 3:12. Key plays: Rypien threw an interception but Williams-Rhodes swiped the ball from cornerback Jalen Davis on the return. Young carried six times for 28 yards on the ensuing possession. Drive: 7 plays, 51 yards, 2:59. Utah State 24, Boise State 10

USU— Myers 39 run (Warren kick), 1:25. Key plays: Tailback Devan Demas was drilled in the backfield by safety Marwin Evans and fumbled. Two plays later, Myers kept and dashed through the secondary for the score. Drive: 2 plays, 46 yards, :44. Utah State 31, Boise State 10

USU— Sharp 21 pass from Myers (Warren kick), 1:05. Key play: Wide receiver Chaz Anderson fumbled while being tackled by two players on a short gain. Fackrell forced the fumble. Drive: 1 plays, 21 yards, :07. Utah State 38, Boise State 10

USU— Evans 90 interception return, :00. Utah State 45, Boise State 10

THIRD QUARTER

BSU— Devan Demas 3 run (Rausa kick), 3:02. Key plays: Williams-Rhodes made a 19-yard catch on third-and-7 and wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck made a 26-yard grab. Sperbeck added a 29-yard catch and run to the 2-yard line. Drive: 10 plays, 82 yards, 2:49. Utah State 45, Boise State 17

USU— Devante Mays 1 run (Warren kick), :22. Key plays: Mays broke a 48-yard run and Damion Hobbs added an 8-yarder to the 1. Drive: 5 plays, 75 yards, 2:40. Utah State 52, Boise State 17

FOURTH QUARTER

BSU— Rausa 41 field goal, 13:31. Key plays: Anderson made a 20-yard catch. A holding penalty stymied the drive. Drive: 9 plays, 51 yards, 1:51. Utah State 52, Boise State 20

BSU— Young 1 run (Rypien pass failed), 8:09. Key plays: Sperbeck drew pass interference and made an 18-yard catch on consecutive plays. Drive: 4 plays, 67 yards, 1:12. Utah State 52, Boise State 26

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Live Blog Boise State-Utah State live coverage

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QUARTERS SUMMARY

First quarter: The game couldn’t have started much better for the Broncos, who got a three-and-out, a long punt return by Shane Williams-Rhodes and an offside penalty. But then it turned really ugly. The Aggies drove for a touchdown and a field goal and quarterback Brett Rypien fumbled twice to set up two touchdowns.

Second quarter: The game turned in the final 2:30 of the first half. The Broncos trailed 24-10, had momentum and good field position and knew they’d get the ball back to start the second half. But tailback Devan Demas fumbled, wide receiver Chaz Anderson fumbled and Rypien threw his third interception. The first two set up Aggies touchdown drives as the defense began the cave. The third was returned for a 90-yard touchdown as time expired. In-game analysis: The Broncos played like they were unprepared for the passion the Aggies would bring to a key game in their program’s history. They hadn’t beaten the Broncos since 1997 and they were fired up. The defense was as good as advertised and the Broncos couldn’t handle it. Yes, the offensive line struggled and tailback Jeremy McNichols was missed. But Rypien turned in a true freshman moment with five turnovers. He also was uncharacteristically erratic with his passing, missing open receivers. Halftime stats: Utah State outgained Boise State 197-105. The Broncos had 27 rushing yards. Rypien was 13-for-27 for 78 yards with three interceptions and two fumbles. Anderson led the team with four catches for 35 yards. Red-hot wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck didn’t have a catch. Utah State QB Kent Myers was 10-for-16 for 109 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 69 yards and a TD.

Third quarter: The Broncos gave themselves a glimmer of hope with a touchdown drive midway through the third quarter. Williams-Rhodes and Sperbeck, who lost a fumble early in the half, keyed the drive. But Utah State answered immediately with a quick scoring drive. Devante Mays keyed the drive with a 48-yard run. In-game analysis: The Broncos played better in the third quarter, but Sperbeck’s fumble and the defensive letdown after the touchdown killed any hope of a historic comeback. The receivers dropped too many passes as well.

Fourth quarter: The Broncos added a field goal and a touchdown late.

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NOTEBOOK

McNichols sits after CSU injury

Boise State sophomore tailback Jeremy McNichols didn’t play Friday night at Utah State after absorbing a helmet-to-helmet hit six days earlier against Colorado State.

McNichols led the nation with 14 touchdowns. Boise State didn’t provide any updates on his status during the week or at the game. McNichols participated in some warmups but didn’t take snaps with the first-team offense.

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said earlier in the week that McNichols was “looked at” for a possible concussion.

After the game, Harsin said he expects McNichols to play next week against Wyoming. Warmups were part of his rehab process, Harsin said.

Senior Kelsey Young started and junior Devan Demas played more than usual in the backfield. They combined for 17 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Demas lost a fumble. Each added a touchdown in the second half.

Young finished with 20 carries for 60 yards overall. Demas had six carries for 19 yards.

Worst half since ...

Boise State trailed 45-10 at halftime. It was the Broncos’ largest halftime deficit since falling behind 42-0 on Oct. 3, 1998, at Louisiana Tech — in coach Dirk Koetter’s first season.

Louisiana Tech won that game 63-28.

Boise State committed seven turnovers in the half — three Brett Rypien interceptions, two Rypien fumbles and fumbles by Demas and wide receiver Chaz Anderson. ESPN reported that no FBS team had committed that many turnovers in the first half in 10 seasons.

Wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck added a fumble in the second half. The total of eight turnovers was the most for the Broncos in their FBS era (since 1996).

Broncos’ title hopes

Utah State moved into first place in the Mountain West Mountain Division at 3-0. Air Force is 2-0. Boise State is 2-1.

Boise State’s clearest path to the division title would be to win its final five conference games and have Utah State lose twice.

Another option: If Air Force beats Utah State and Boise State beats Air Force to force a three-way tie at 7-1, the tiebreaker system would come down to the College Football Playoff rankings. And since none of the teams likely would be ranked, the decider would be a composite of selected computer rankings.

Rausa keeps firing

Boise State junior kicker Tyler Rausa made field-goal attempts of 46 and 41 yards. He’s 13-for-13 on kicks of 51 yards or less this season.

He also has made 10 field goals in the past four games.

His misses this year were from 54 and 55 yards.

Quick hits

The Broncos wore all white. ... The single-game captains were linebacker Joe Martarano and defensive tackle Armand Nance. ... Junior nickel Chanceller James carried the Hammer for the second straight week. He hammered the end zone after running onto the field. ... Boise State won the coin toss and deferred. ... Attendance: 22,509. ... Darian Thompson led the Broncos with 12 tackles. James added 10. ... DE Jabril Frazier left the game with an injury. He had a sling on his left arm after the game.

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Our coverage plan is a little different this year. I’ll be spending 100 percent of my time on our live/digital coverage of the game — so I’ll be even more active than usual updating this blog and interacting with fans on Facebook and Twitter (@IDS_BroncoBeat).

Late in the game, we’ll be collecting fans’ brief takeaways from the game. We’ll run the best ones in Sunday’s paper and in the blog post with my takeaways from the game. To participate, tweet with the hashtag #bsutake, respond to the Facebook post soliciting opinions or email sports@idahostatesman.com.

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LINKS

Boise State midseason report

Key matchup

Game breakdown

Boise State players to watch

Utah State players to watch

Tyler Gray expands his role

Broncos hope to reduce hits on Rypien

Utah State’s Kent Myers is next man up again

Utah State scouting report

Related stories from Idaho Statesman

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