Horton plays through a different pain

Most of us didn’t understand what Boise State cornerback Tyler Horton was going through when we watched him being pestered in the first half Saturday night by Colorado State star Michael Gallup. It was revealed after the game that Horton had just learned of the passing of his high school position coach, Tony Perry of Edison High in Fresno. It was a big deal to Horton. “This might be the largest display of public affection in the history of our Central Valley,” said one competing coach in the Fresno Bee. “It’s like losing, for some kids, a father, a grandfather, for others a close personal friend,” said that coach. Now we know how tough it was for Horton to play through that, especially against a future NFL receiver. It was appropriate that Horton made the fumble recovery that ended the game.

The progression of Horton’s night against Gallup was telling. The national leader in receiving yards had 10 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown in the first half as Colorado State built two different leads of 25 points. In the second half, Gallup had one catch, and that didn’t come until the the final minute of regulation. It was on a 3rd-and-3, and Nick Stevens threw a screen to him. Horton drove one of CSU’s blockers back into the play and then forced Gallup out of bounds for no gain.

I don’t know how the conference could have gone any other way on this one. Boise State’s Alexander Mattison is Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week after his 242 rushing yards and three touchdowns that keyed the wild comeback win at Colorado State. His TDs of 70 yards and 26 yards stand out, of course, but how about the 25-yard run during the Broncos’ final drive of regulation? That produced a first-and-goal on the seven-yard line, and Brett Rypien threw the tying touchdown pass to Jake Roh two plays later, leading to Mattison’s winning TD in overtime. Boise State’s Joel Velazquez is the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week, mainly on the merits of one kick. That would be the perfect onside skipper that landed in Cedrick Wilson’s hands with 1:40 left in the game.

Before we move on to Boise State’s long-awaited game against Air Force this Saturday, which we must, one more poignant observation from a Scott Slant reader: “If ever there was a case to be made for trusting the process and not looking at the scoreboard; getting smacked in the mouth again…and again…and not letting it phase you; just keep competing…we witnessed it in the wee hours Sunday morning.” Coach Bryan Harsin talked yesterday about Wilson embodying that sentiment against Colorado State, insisting on returning to action despite a beat-up body—and making a game-changing play with the onside kick recovery. “I hope that wears off on other guys,” said Harsin.

I run this now not because I’m looking ahead, but because it happened one year ago today. Jeff Tedford had just been named as Fresno State’s new head coach, and he had some enlightening things to say in his introductory press conference. Tedford was coming from Washington, where he was an “offensive consultant” for Chris Petersen. “What’s interesting, talking to Coach Petersen, when he first got to Boise (in 2001) their gold standard was Fresno State,” Tedford said. “OK, now, it has kind of flipped roles. But I absolutely know what it takes to get there and how we can get it done.” So far, so good. Tedford has the Bulldogs at 7-3 with the West Division all but clinched. This Saturday they go to Wyoming, which may be missing Josh Allen due to what his mom says on Facebook is a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder.

Did you know? With the triumph in the opener last Friday night, Leon Rice took sole possession of second place on the Boise State men’s basketball career victories list behind Bobby Dye’s 212 wins from 1983-95. Rice had been tied with his predecessor, Greg Graham, at 142 victories. Rice has collected his in seven seasons—Graham’s total came over eight years. Rice is now at 144 wins, and if he can up that by, say, two or three at the Puerto Rico Tip-off this week (moved to Myrtle Beach, SC), that would be saying something. The Broncos open Thursday at noon against UTEP. Win or lose, they’ll have their hands full Friday, facing either Illinois State or South Carolina.

Northwest Nazarene and College of Idaho tangle tonight in the first leg of the annual United Heritage Mayors’ Cup series at Johnson Sports Center in Nampa. They bill it as the “oldest basketball rivalry in the Gem State,” dating back to 1933 when C of I beat NNU 23-16. This will be the 203rd meeting between the two Canyon County schools. They split a pair of meetings last year, with the Nighthawks (then the Crusaders) winning 69-60 in Nampa, and the Coyotes dominating 77-51 in Caldwell. The Yotes go into tonight’s game 1-2, while NNU is 1-0. The second game of the series is a week fron tonight at C of I.

This story comes from a land far, far away. Really. Former Boise State tennis player Scott Sears, now 27, is trying to become the youngest person ever to reach the South Pole solo—unassisted and unsupported. He’s known in Great Britain as Lieutenant Scott Sears of the First Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles. But he’s also known as Andy Murray’s brother-in-law (Sears’ sister, Kim, married Murray in 2015). Sears flew to Hercules Inlet on Antarctica’s Weddell Sea over the weekend, and he hopes to finish the 702-mile trek through 75-below-zero temperatures and 100 mile-per-hour winds on Christmas Day. He’s looking to raise more than £25,000 for the Gurkha Welfare Trust to help rebuild schools in Gorkha, Nepal, destroyed in the earthquake of April, 2015. Sears finished his Bronco career five years ago.

This Day In Sports…November 14, 1997, 20 years ago today:

Pro basketball comes to the Treasure Valley, as the Idaho Stampede make their debut at the Idaho Center. The Stampede were led by former Boise State coach Bobby Dye and defeated the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the opener, 102-92. The first points in franchise history came on a three-pointer from guard Rusty LaRue, who at the end of the night was called up by the Chicago Bulls. This must be a bittersweet day for former Stampede managing investor Bill Ilett and his ownership team. The Utah Jazz moved the franchise in 2016 and turned it into the Salt Lake City Stars.

(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.)