A Bronco implosion negates a gutty effort

You couldn’t have asked for any more from the Boise State defense. The Broncos stymied one of the best quarterbacks in the country, didn’t allow an offensive touchdown until eight minutes remained in the game, and held Washington State to 22 rushing yards. The defense was largely responsible for Boise State’s 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter. To let that slip away ranks among the program’s most frustrating results ever. In fact, ESPN popped up a stat that the Broncos had won 101 consecutive games when leading by 21 points or more, by far the most in the nation. The most inexplicable interception in school history wasn’t the only transgression Saturday night.

A holding penalty on the ensuing kickoff return and a false start on the first snap that followed killed field position. Still, the defense came through with another stop after the Broncos had to punt. It was then, with less than three minutes left in the game, that a short Cougars’ punt glanced off Boise State’s Reid Harrison-Ducros, and Wazzu could smell blood. Granted, it was exciting from there, including the goal-line stand by the Bronco defense in the first overtime. But wow. It’s in the books—a 47-44 triple-overtime loss.

The Boise State defense registered five sacks on the night, two of them by Leighton Vander Esch, who had a monster game with 16 tackles. But when considering those sacks, you really have to read between the lines. When the Broncos weren’t taking down Luke Falk and Tyler Hilinksi, they were getting very little pressure, and that was the Achilles heel down the stretch on a night when the defense was otherwise outstanding. Coverage of the Washington State receivers was excellent thanks to a preponderance of eight-man drops, but the pass rush paid the price. Falk and Hininski often had all day to throw as a result, and ultimately a Cougar receiver was able to break free for a dink-and-dunk catch and make something of it. That was especially evident in the fourth quarter when Hilinski played his way into Cougar lore.

It had been a long time since Montell Cozart had played four quarters of a football game. The first three quarters went really well in Pullman—in fact, so did the very first play of the fourth quarter, the 47-yard touchdown pass to Cedrick Wilson. But unfortunately for Boise State, Cozart could not sustain it. Through the Wilson TD, he was 9-for-11 for 128 yards and the touchdown. After that play and through the three overtimes, Cozart was just 3-for-9 for 33 yards, and included in there was one of the most head-scratching interceptions in Bronco history, the desperation shovel pass flipped in the air that resulted in a deflating pick-six. Is Brett Rypien going to be cleared to play Thursday after the shot he took in the first quarter? Is it Cozart’s team for awhile? The quarterback spot is very interesting.

San Diego State carried the flag for the Mountain West in Week 2. The Aztecs were the only winner in the conference’s five matchups against Power 5 schools, taking down Arizona State 30-20 in Tempe. The Aztecs improved to 10-2 in their last 12 true road games as Rashaad Penny had touchdowns via rushing, receiving and kickoff return. Penny’s first TD was a 95-yard run to open the scoring. Elsewhere, Fresno State actually didn’t play that badly Saturday, easily covering the spread in its 41-10 loss at Alabama. There were two upsets—New Mexico will come into Albertsons Stadium seething Thursday night after losing to rival New Mexico State for the second straight year, 30-28. The other? Read on…

Idaho was a one-touchdown favorite against UNLV Saturday in the Kibbie Dome but got run over by the Rebels 44-16. It was a far cry from UNLV’s humuliating loss to Howard a week before, as the Rebels rushed for 357 yards—and it all came from running backs Lexington Thomas and Xzavier Campbell and quarterback Armani Rogers. For good measure, Rogers connected with Devonte Boyd on a 94-yard touchdown pass, the longest in UNLV history. Vandals quarterback Matt Linehan had a decent day, throwing for 261 yards and a touchdown with one interception, but Idaho couldn’t muster any consistency out of its running game.

The early-season schedule has been brutal for College of Idaho, but that doesn’t make its 0-3 start any easier for the Coyotes to stomach. The mistake-prone Yotes turned the ball over four times and went 0-for-11 on third down conversions in their home opener Saturday, a 42-25 loss to Southern Oregon. The positive for C of I was Keenan Patwell, the true freshman out of Mountain View High. Patwell amassed 256 return yards, the most since the Yotes program was revived in 2014, taking four punts back for 91 yards and returning eight kickoffs for 165 yards.

There was no need to decide who the Dallas Cowboys’ No. 2 quarterback was—Kellen Moore or Cooper Rush—last night on Sunday Night Football. Dak Prescott played wire-to-wire and led the Cowboys to a 19-3 win over the New York Giants. Other Boise State products dotted the box score. Tyrone Crawford returned from his ankle injury in training camp and made two tackles. Orlando Scandrick logged two tackles before he exited with a fractured hand (he’ll reportedly return quickly from the injury). Demarcus Lawrence began his fourth NFL season impressively with two sacks of Giants quarterback Eli Manning, and former Idaho Vandal Benson Mayowa got a hit in on Manning on a play wiped out by a New York holding penalty.

It’s Albertsons Boise Open week, and the 28th edition of the event serves as the second stop on the Web.com Tour Finals for the second consecutive year. Hope you can follow along here. In 2013, the Web.com Tour became the primary vehicle to get to the PGA Tour. The top 25 money winners during the regular season are guaranteed spots on the big tour for the following season, which starts next month. But “The 25” still have to play the Web.com Tour Finals this month, and—except for the No. 1 player—their priority rankings will be decided by results from the four-event Finals series. There’ll be an additional 25 PGA Tour berths up for grabs based on winnings in the Web.com Tour Finals, which includes 150 players (the top 75 from the Web.com Tour and Nos. 126 through 200 on the PGA Tour money list).

This Day In Sports…September 11, 2001:

Nobody needs to tell you what happened this day. But it had an effect on sports for months to come. Immediately following the events of 9/11, every scheduled sporting event was either postponed or cancelled entirely. Boise State’s September 15 home football game against Central Michigan was moved to Thanksgiving weekend. The Ryder Cup was canceled altogether. The World Series was pushed into November for the first time, and the residual effects of NFL postponements resulted in the first February Super Bowl.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)