BOISE STATE 38, SAN DIEGO STATE 29
A historic comeback to get off a historic schneid.
The Boise State football team overcame a 20-0 deficit to beat San Diego State on Saturday night at Albertsons Stadium — avenging a pair of painful November losses from the past two seasons.
The Broncos won 38-29 — their fifth straight victory — to stay in control of the Mountain West’s Mountain Division race. They are 8-2 overall and 5-1 in the conference going into next Saturday’s game at Wyoming.
The comeback was the largest by the Broncos in their WAC/Mountain West era (since 2001) — and it came a week after they erased a 14-point deficit at New Mexico. San Diego State was the only team to beat Boise State in consecutive years since Washington State in 2000-01.
“Our whole mantra was, ‘The streak stops here, tonight,’ ” junior tailback Jay Ajayi said. “They had beat us twice in a row. Enough was enough.”
The Broncos earned their 12th straight home win — all by at least nine points — since losing to San Diego State in 2012.
It was a personal game for the players and coaches because of the previous losses and San Diego State coach Rocky Long’s comments that the Broncos’ program didn’t have the same mystique as several years ago.
Coach Bryan Harsin put “Believe in your brand” on the large TV screens in the locker room.
"Exciting game. Crazy game," Harsin said. "There's been a lot of stuff that's gone on this week that we've just kind of laid low on it. We tried to go out there for 3 1/2 hours and do the talking on the field."
Said senior cornerback Cleshawn Page: “It was kind of drilled into us, ‘OK, they don’t respect us, so we’re going to make them respect us.’ ”
The Broncos and Aztecs aren’t scheduled to meet again until 2017. Long made sure there will be plenty of fire for that meeting, too, in his postgame comments.
“I’m sorry we’re not going to play them the next couple of years,” Long said, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I love playing them. They supposedly have this mystique. They don’t have a mystique. But they won. Congratulations to them. They won.”
— “Down 20-nothing, I don’t know if I didn’t have a little panic maybe, but these guys did a great job. They fought through the first half and the second half it was pretty simple: Do your job, execute it to the best of your ability and let’s go out there and find a way to win. That’s really all that was said. No rah-rah.”
— On San Diego State coach Rocky Long’s comments during the week: “We don’t like to be in that position, nor do we like to be talked about that way.”
— On the fake punt: “I didn’t see anything. I had my eyes closed, to be honest with you. That has looked just like that in practice. I don’t think anyone was surprised when it hit. That was a momentum-changer.”
— On the Mountain West race: “We’ve put ourselves in a position to have a chance to play for a championship. We’re not there yet, but at least we have that chance. We do know that we have a chance to play for our goal and that’s really exciting. It’s something that’s motivating and I know our guys appreciate it and they’re going to go to work to take care of this week.”
QB Grant Hedrick
— On the start: “Obviously a pretty bad start, offensively. Never got into a rhythm and I made a couple bad decisions, but we overcame that once we got going.”
— On scoring 10 points right before halftime: “To get a touchdown drive like that was big for us, just to get our confidence up.”
— On the fans leaving at halftime: “I’d leave, too. That was cold out there. I don’t know if (the score) was the reason why they left. I don’t blame them at all. It was chilly.”
Kent Riddle, special teams coach
— On the fake punt: “We’ve had this for a while. We just look for the right opportunity to use them. We felt like we needed a little something to jump-start us and we had a good look so we were going to run it. We feel good about it vs. a variety of different looks, but we felt really good about it this week.”
C Marcus Henry
— On the offense: “It was all execution. The second half we executed much better. We were shooting ourselves in the foot the first half.”
— On the fake punt: “I didn’t know it was going on. I was going back to sit on the bench.”
— On the win: “Beat us two years in a row, one year on the Blue. For this program, that's not acceptable, losing on the Blue.”
S Darian Thompson
— On the weather: “It was freezing. Our guys did a good job supplying us with gear and stuff like that. If you're in the game, you don't really think about it that much. Now that I'm here and I'm thinking about it, it was cold. You just try to keep on moving.”
RB Jay Ajayi
— On the offense: “We were just focused on getting first downs because what was going on was that we weren't able to sustain our drives, we were having really quick drives, our defense was getting out there really fast, we weren't giving them time to rest. If you watch the game, once we started sustaining our drives and getting those first first downs, we were really driving on them and they couldn't really stop us.” (Boise State scored on every drive that included more than one first down.)
— On the deficit: “We were just composed. We know adversity is going to come up in the game, and we were just composed. We knew our defense was going to keep getting stops and we were going to fix whatever was going on and we would get rolling, and we did.”
— On his second half: “I'm always motivated to improve as the game goes on and our line did a great job of getting a good knockoff in the second half. It was about that time to start breaking some tackles and getting into the second level and make big plays for the team. We were down, and we really needed somebody to step up and I believed I could do that for the team and I just went out there in the second half with the mindset to really make plays for this team.”
— On San Diego State: “Even though I said no motivation needed, their coaches felt the need to say some of the things that they said and those really stuck out to us. We went out on the field and decided we wanted to prove them wrong and go out and get a win and break that streak that they had against us and we went out and did that tonight, and I don't think they can say anything to us.”
CB Cleshawn Page
— On his first career interception: “It was exciting. I felt like I was long overdue for one. I think I was the only guy in the DB room without a pick, and every week it was like, 'It's your day, it's your day,' and I'm just happy it finally came.”
— On the play: “To start off, the coach kind of challenged me — I didn't start off the first half as strong as I wanted to, so he challenged me. I played with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. I knew I had to play a little more aggressive than I was earlier. I just noticed the receiver, he wasn't really pushing me vertically, so I felt no need to try and get on top, so he just headed down and I was in perfect position. I thought I was going to score, but I guess (tailback Donnel Pumphrey) was kind of fast.”
— On the second half: “We came out the first half, kind of slow, kind of sluggish. I feel like maybe we (underestimated) the cold, how much it was going to play a factor. We got into the locker room before the second half, coach challenged every single one of us and we all came out with a chip on our shoulder and you saw the results.”
Boise State overcame a 20-point deficit to beat San Diego State on Saturday night at Albertsons Stadium — a 38-29 victory that forced a deep look into the record books.
The only known such comeback win for the Broncos was in the 1971 Camellia Bowl. Boise State was down 28-7 in the fourth quarter against Chico State and won 32-28.
However, there are six games from 1979 to 1984 that could have had that large of a comeback for which records were unavailable.
So at the very least, this was the Broncos’ largest comeback win in the past 30 seasons.
“These guys just have incredible belief and they know we’re going to find a way and we’re going to make a way,” special teams coach Kent Riddle said. “Everybody’s believing in each other down there. It’s not, ‘Hey, you guys have got to do this, you guys have got to do this.’ It’s, ‘Hey, we’re going to get this.’ And I think that starts at the top.”
The comeback came one week after the Broncos overcame a 14-point deficit to beat New Mexico. That was the largest comeback win since 2006.
Earlier this season, the Broncos fell behind 17-0 in the first half at Air Force and got into a 28-0 hole before scoring a couple late touchdowns in the loss. Since then, they have trailed Nevada 21-16 late in the first half of a game that was decided in the final 2 minutes, been tied with Fresno State in the fourth quarter, trounced BYU and overcome the two big deficits.
“It definitely could have went the other way,” senior quarterback Grant Hedrick said. “Guys could have hung their heads. You get a split sideline with offense and defense. You see a lot of teams do that and we didn’t do that. We showed a lot of maturity. It shows how much we’ve grown throughout the season. The way that started was a lot like the Air Force game and you know the way that ended. You can see how we’re growing.”
Fake punt provides spark
Boise State trailed 23-10 in the third quarter and was about to go three-and-out for the second straight drive to start the second half.
Instead, coaches green-lighted a fake punt on fourth-and-4 from their own 32-yard line. Linebacker Chris Santini took the direct snap and rumbled 24 yards for a first down.
The Broncos scored a touchdown on the drive — the first of 21 consecutive points for the team.
“When we have plays like that, it just changes the whole outlook of the game and it really gave us some wind in our sails and we were able to just get going after that,” junior tailback Jay Ajayi said.
Tough, or crazy?
The Broncos took the field for stretching without their shirts on.
“That’s their decision,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “Coaches were not going to do that.”
Why did the players do it?
“To let everyone know it wasn’t that cold,” junior safety Darian Thompson said, “but it was.”
Chaz strikes again
For the fifth time in six games, sophomore wide receiver Chaz Anderson caught a deep ball — and this one was his most spectacular and one of his most important.
The 46-yard catch came as the Broncos faced a 20-0 hole and it set up a field goal.
The pass was underthrown. Anderson tried to turn around and make the catch but the ball bounced off of him. The ball continued forward and Anderson spun around to follow it. It hit his hands and continued forward. He caught it as he fell to the turf.
“I have no idea how Chaz caught that,” Hedrick said, “but he did, and we needed that in that moment in the game and that kind of got us going.”
Hedrick finished 19-for-28 for 187 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. He also rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown. His interceptions both came in the first half — one when his arm was hit as he threw and the other when Anderson fell down on a route.
Ajayi vs. Pumphrey
Ajayi and San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey came into the game ranked one (Pumphrey) and two (Ajayi) in the Mountain West in rushing.
Ajayi carried 31 times for 134 yards and three touchdowns. He also made four catches for 25 yards.
Pumphrey carried 24 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns. He also made three catches for 28 yards.
Pumphrey had a slightly better day statistically, but Ajayi performed against a statistically better defense.
Ajayi has scored multiple touchdowns in 10 of his 11 home games as a starter — for a total of 28 scores.
Boesen, Lukehart out again
Boise State redshirt freshman defensive end Mat Boesen and junior safety Dillon Lukehart were not available for the second straight game.
Harsin didn’t provide a reason for Boesen’s absence against New Mexico. He said Lukehart was not feeling well enough to play.
On Boesen, Harsin said Saturday night, “We’ll see where we are next week.”
A frigid kickoff
The temperature at game time was 9 degrees. Boise State doesn’t keep temperature records, but by comparison the temperature was 22 degrees for the 1999 Humanitarian Bowl vs. Louisville.
Since the Broncos joined the WAC in 2001, this was the fifth kickoff at or below freezing and the coldest of the bunch. The previous coldest was 30 degrees for the 2010 game at Nevada.
San Diego State came into the game with a 3-1 record in games played with below-freezing temperatures at kickoff. The all-time low was 18 degrees before Saturday.
James, Baggett start
Boise State sophomore safety Chanceller James started in place of senior Corey Bell. James replaced Bell in the second half of the New Mexico game. Sophomore linebacker Ben Weaver rejoined the starting lineup after missing one game and two other starts.
Sophomore Steven Baggett returned at right tackle after missing one game. Junior cornerback Donte Deayon handled punt returns in place of junior wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes.
Broncos get commit
Former Texas A&M safety Kam Miles committed to Boise State on Saturday while visiting campus. Miles plans to arrive in January as a redshirt sophomore.
Miles redshirted at Texas A&M in 2013, when Boise State defensive coordinator Marcel Yates was the Aggies’ defensive backs coach. Yates recruited him. Miles expected to play as a true freshman but tore the meniscus in one knee before fall camp. He was dismissed from the team in March 2014 for undisclosed reasons.
“It’s a nice, beautiful-looking city,” Miles said of Boise. “When I came here, this was the only offer I had. I looked at it as a second opportunity. With the relationship I have with coach Yates, I trust him. And with the relationship I have with (defensive backs coach Julius Brown) and coach Harsin, I really have belief and faith in what they’re trying to do to turn around the program. I feel I can benefit from them and they can help me get to the next level.”
Miles played at Butler Community College in Kansas this season, the same school that sent defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and tailback Derrick Thomas to Boise State.
Miles had 50 tackles in 11 games this season.
“I just really went to Butler so I can get the feel of the game again, just get the confidence again,” he said. “This was really getting back into the game. I’m back in the groove, so I’m ready.”
Miles played at West Mesquite (Texas) High with current Boise State true freshman safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner. Sumner-Gardner committed to Texas A&M but decided to follow Yates to Boise State. The Broncos also have a commit from West Mesquite wide receiver Akilian Butler.
Miles was a consensus four-star recruit in high school.
“He’s been an impact player,” Butler coach Troy Morrell said. “He’s a guy who’s made a lot of plays in the secondary and on special teams also. He’s just one of those guys who’s very unselfish and has a genuine passion for the game. You can’t take him off the field.”
Kickoff was pushed back 5 minutes to 8:26 p.m. to accommodate ESPNU. Boise State employees worked from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and began again at 5 a.m. Saturday to prepare the stadium. The field and bleachers were clear of snow. Snow in the grandstands was pushed under the seats. Boise State wore all black as part of the stadium-wide blackout. Sophomore defensive end Kamalei Correa and sophomore linebacker Chris Santini were the Broncos’ single-game captains. San Diego State won the coin toss and took the ball. Boise State finished with 399 yards. Only one team has hit the 400-yard mark against San Diego State this year (UNLV). For the second straight game, the Broncos were the least-penalized team The Broncos were 3-for-8 on third downs in the first half and 6-for-9 in the second half. Sophomore wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck continued his surge with six catches for 82 yards and a TD. Thompson led the Broncos with 10 tackles.
SDSU — Donny Hageman 41 field goal, 7:46. Key plays: Tailback Donnel Pumphrey made a 17-yard grab on third-and-3. Quarterback Quinn Kaehler ran 15 yards on a reception on a double pass on the next play, but a holding penalty negated much of the gain and led to a field-goal attempt. Drive: 8 plays, 28 yards, 3:54. San Diego State 3, Boise State 0
SDSU — Pumphrey 32 run (Hageman kick), 1:16. Key plays: Pumphrey made a 6-yard catch on third-and-5 to get the drive going. Cornerback Cleshawn Page committed pass interference on second-and-9. Pumphrey’s touchdown was a draw play on third-and-3. Drive: 10 plays, 87 yards, 5:10. San Diego State 10, Boise State 0
SDSU — Hageman 30 field goal, 10:29. Key plays: Ezell Ruffin made a 38-yard reception at the Boise State 19-yard line. On third-and-4, linebacker Tyler Gray dropped an interception. Drive: 5 plays, 44 yards, 2:01. San Diego State 13, Boise State 0
SDSU — Daniel Brunskill 6 pass from Kaehler (Hageman kick), 7:33. Key plays: San Diego State’s J.J. Whittaker intercepted a Grant Hedrick pass as wide receiver Chaz Anderson fell down (and was called for offensive pass interference). The return put the ball at the Boise State 34 and Pumphrey promptly rumbled 21 yards. Drive: 3 plays, 34 yards, 1:19. San Diego State 20, Boise State 0
BSU — Dan Goodale 21 field goal, 3:25. Key plays: Wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes made a leaping catch for 8 yards on third-and-3 to get a much-needed first down. Then Williams-Rhodes ran over a defender for an 8-yard reception and Anderson made a juggling, 46-yard catch at the SDSU 4. Drive: 11 plays, 73 yards, 4:08. San Diego State 20, Boise State 3
BSU — Thomas Sperbeck 14 pass from Hedrick (Goodale kick), :17. Key plays: Tailback Jay Ajayi made a 14-yard reception and drew a flag for a horse-collar tackle, which quickly pushed the ball into SDSU territory. Sperbeck made a 21-yard catch on the play before the TD. Drive: 6 plays, 78 yards, 1:26. San Diego State 20, Boise State 10
SDSU — Hageman 44 field goal, 10:10. Key plays: Wide receiver Eric Judge made a 15-yard catch on third-and-13, but three straight pass plays were unsuccessful. Drive: 9 plays, 28 yards, 3:23. San Diego State 23, Boise State 10
BSU — Ajayi 5 run (Goodale kick), 4:31. Key plays: Linebacker Chris Santini ran 24 yards on a fake punt on fourth-and-4 and Sperbeck converted third-and-9 and third-and-5 with a pair of 15-yard receptions. Drive: 12 plays, 74 yards, 5:39. San Diego State 23, Boise State 17
BSU — Ajayi 3 run (Goodale kick), 14:56. Key play: Page’s first career interception gave the Broncos the ball at the SDSU 14-yard line. Drive: 3 plays, 14 yards, :41. Boise State 24, San Diego State 23
BSU — Ajayi 10 run (Goodale kick), 11:23. Key plays: Williams-Rhodes drew a pass interference penalty on third-and-6. Ajayi followed with an impressive trio of runs, including a 28-yarder. Drive: 5 plays, 62 yards, 2:07. Boise State 31, San Diego State 23
SDSU — Pumphrey 34 run (Chase Price run failed), 8:37. Key plays: Kaehler zipped a 14-yard strike to Judge on third down and Pumphrey broke free on a toss play for the score. Drive: 6 plays, 70 yards, 2:46. Boise State 31, San Diego State 29
BSU — Hedrick 13 run (Goodale kick), 2:01. Key plays: The Broncos converted three third downs, including two on completions by Hedrick. Drive: 14 plays, 70 yards, 6:36. Boise State 38, San Diego State 29
Field looks great. Seats are clear, with snow tucked underneath. pic.twitter.com/WDUxIE9lDT— Bronco Beat (@IDS_BroncoBeat) November 16, 2014
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.