Jaylon Henderson was very good in Boise State’s spring game last April. The question going into the matchup against New Mexico Saturday night: could Henderson do it while getting extended time in a real game against a Mountain West defense that was trying to mess with him? Well, Henderson, the surprise starter on Senior Night who might have to do it again at Utah State this week, handled it just fine in the Broncos’ 42-9 rout of the Lobos. He was 15-of-28 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. There was one interception and a lost fumble, both in the second quarter, as Henderson had to adjust to things he wasn’t accustomed to. But that’s what the film room is for. He’ll learn a lot from this, understanding that he’ll have to be even better in the biggest game of the year in Logan.
TAKING THE LEAD NINE SECONDS IN
The last time Boise State scored a defensive touchdown on the first play of the game was against Utah State in 2010. Ironically, it came on Senior Day, as senior linebacker Derrell Acrey took an interception 31 yards to the house. History repeated itself Saturday night on the blue turf, this time on a scoop-and-score. Sonatane Lui picked up a fumble forced by fellow senior Chase Hatada and ran it in from 24 yards out, and it was 7-0 just nine seconds into the game. It wasn’t the only “senior moment” for Lui, who had another recovery in the second quarter. What a stat line: zero tackles, two fumble recoveries, one touchdown.
MAGIC WITH THE BALL IN THEIR HANDS
It looked like Boise State made a concentrated effort to get their playmakers involved in the offense Saturday night. John Hightower and Khalil Shakir were all over the place. Hightower had four catches for 124 yards and a 51-yard touchdown, plus one carry for 17 yards. He’s now averaging a cool 20.4 yards per catch on the season. Shakir contributed five grabs for 96 yards and a TD, ran once for two yards, and completed his one pass attempt out of the wildcat for two yards and a touchdown to Garrett Collingham. The Broncos need to keep that distribution going with their offensive dynamic having changed.
NO. 99 – STATUS UNKNOWN
Boise State was holding its collective breath with four minutes left in the first half Saturday night, and it’s safe to say the Broncos and their fans haven’t exhaled yet. Curtis Weaver, the nation’s active career leader in sacks with 33, suffered an apparent foot or lower leg injury and was down for a couple of minutes before being helped off the field and into the Idaho Sports Medicine Institute. Weaver wore a boot on the sidelines during the second half. He didn’t have a sack against the Lobos, but he did have a tackle-for-loss on New Mexico’s second possession. Had he been in, Weaver likely would have had a sack at the end of the third quarter. Lobos quarterback Tevaka Tuioti scrambled around in the backfield for what seemed like forever before finally being sacked by Benton Wickersham and Demitri Washington. Tuioti probably wouldn’t have escaped Weaver.
YOTES PLAY ON AT HOME
College of Idaho is indeed hosting a first-round game in its first-ever venture into the NAIA Playoffs. The Coyotes will face Ottawa University from—not Canada—but Surprise, AZ. The Spirit are 9-1 this season. As for C of I’s regular season finale against Montana State-Northern: no Nick Calzaretta, no problem. Justin Hellyer ran for 207 yards as the sixth-ranked Yotes cruised past the Northern Lights 44-20. C of I rushed for 410 yards on a day that saw Darius-James Peterson go an uncharacteristic 6-of-18 for 94 yards (DJP did put up 93 yards rushing, though). It was College of Idaho’s 16th victory in a row as it completed the school’s first undefeated regular season since 1953.
AN UNCOMFORTABLE FACT
Idaho has to live with it again: another losing season. After falling 31-7 to Sacramento State Saturday in the Kibbie Dome, the Vandals have clinched their third straight losing season since the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl win, and their 18th in the last 20 years. Sac State, the No. 6 FCS team in the country, held the James Cotton-less Idaho offense to just 194 yards, including minus-13 in the pivotal second quarter. There was no vertical passing game without the injured Cotton, and Mason Petrino threw for just 133 yards and the Vandals’ lone touchdown. The Hornets, meanwhile, moved into a three-way tie for first in the Big Sky with Montana and Weber State.
WORRISOME START FROM BEYOND THE ARC
Live by the three, die by the three, and Boise State went down with that ship again in its 69-60 loss to UC Irvine Friday night in ExtraMile Arena. Defensively, the Broncos were better than they were in the 31-point rout they suffered at Oregon. Offensively, they weren’t, shooting just 31 percent from the field and 4-for-21 from three-point range. Boise State has been particularly cold out of the gate, going 1-for-21 from three-point land in the first half of the past two games. Derrick Alston scored 22 points and R.J. Williams 20 with 11 rebounds, but they’re being called upon to compensate for the lack of success outside. Justinian Jessup and Alex Hobbs combined to go 4-for-19 versus the Anteaters.
WNIT WAS WORTH IT
The Preseason WNIT ended on an upnote for Boise State women’s hoops, as the Broncos survived a 28-point first quarter by UAB and went on to an 83-81 consolation win Friday afternoon in Birmingham. Riley Lupfer hit her 261st career three-pointer in the third quarter to become Boise State’s all-time leader in that department. Lupfer nailed five treys and scored 17 points. Boise State went 2-1 in the tournament and takes away invaluable experience for the winter ahead. The same can be said for the Bronco women’s soccer team in the NCAA Tournament, even with its 5-1 loss to fourth-ranked BYU in Provo Friday night. That’s especially true for sophomore goalkeeper Sydney Smith, who allowed five goals after setting a school record with 13 shutouts, a mark that was tied for second most in the nation.
The Idaho Steelheads were hoping to get their mojo back while wrapping up their long road stretch over the weekend. The Steelheads had been swept the previous week at Rapid City. The mojo was good Friday night when Idaho thumped Wichita 4-1. Then it slipped away as the Steelheads went traveled from to state. They scored a tying goal with four seconds left in regulation in Tulsa Saturday before falling 3-2 in a shootout, and they were thumped 3-1 Sunday at Allen. On the PGA Tour, Graham DeLaet paid for his trip to Mexico. DeLaet will end up somewhere around 59th once the final few groups finish the Mayakoba Classic today in Playa del Carmen. DeLaet was two-under for the tournament.
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November 18, 1989, 30 years ago today: Idaho takes its eighth straight over Boise State with a 26-21 win in the Kibbie Dome. The Vandal victory offset a great night for Bronco tailback Chris Thomas, who set a school record with 268 all-purpose yards. The mark would stand for ten years before Brock Forsey would break it in the 1999 Humanitarian Bowl. Meanwhile, Idaho quarterback John Friesz finished his regular season career with a school record 10,697 passing yards—a mark that would be broken four years later by Doug Nussmeier.
(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.)