From two first round draft picks in major sports to a Pro Football Hall of Famer to a very interesting Boise State football season, 2018 is in the books. As we close out the year, let me first thank you for reading, listening and watching. Hope you enjoy this local look back at the year.
January 13: Chandler Hutchison breaks a 47-year-old Boise State record with 44 points in an 83-80 win over San Diego State at sold-out Taco Bell Arena. Hutchison scored the Broncos’ first 16 points of the game, had 25 at halftime, tied the record on the last of his seven three-pointers and broke it on a couple of crucial free throws with 15 seconds remaining.
January 27: James Webb III becomes only the fifth Boise State product ever to play in the NBA when he debuts for the Brooklyn Nets in a 111-87 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Webb was scoreless with one assist in five minutes.
February 3: After 11 nominations over 45 years, former Idaho Vandal and Green Bay Packer Jerry Kramer is finally elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Kramer, who grew up in Sandpoint, was a star at Idaho before an 11-year NFL career as a Packer from 1958-68. He was a five-time All-Pro and was part of five NFL championships, including victories in the first two Super Bowls.
March 9: The Boise State women’s hoops team wins its third Mountain West championship in four years, beating Nevada 62-60 on a buzzer-beating putback by A’Shanti Coleman in the conference tournament title game in Las Vegas. That same evening in Sioux Falls, SD, the College of Idaho men rallied past Dakota Wesleyan in the NAIA Division II Championships Round of 16 on a dramatic three-pointer by Roosevelt Adams. The Yotes would win 30 games and make it to the Final Four.
March 15: The NCAA Tournament returns to Boise for the first time in nine years and brings down the house with another memorable shocker. It wasn’t a “one shining moment” kind of special, but probably only because it was a rout. The first three games of the first round were all close, with no upsets. In the nightcap, though, 13th-seeded Buffalo ran away from fourth-seeded Arizona 89-68 for its first win ever in the Big Dance.
April 26: Leighton Vander Esch becomes the fifth first-round NFL Draft pick in Boise State history when he’s selected No. 19 overall by the Dallas Cowboys. The story was an incredible one—a guy who played eight-man football in Riggins and walked on with the Broncos morphing into a Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and an early entrant into the draft.
May 10: The inimitable Greg Patton steps down after 22 seasons spanning more than 25 years as Boise State men’s tennis coach. The General recorded 807 victories, 14 conference championships, 16 NCAA Tournament berths, 10 conference coach of the year awards, and an NCAA Coach of the Year honor in 1997, when the Broncos were ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation.
June 9: Boise State’s Allie Ostrander becomes only the second woman ever to win back-to-back national titles in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Ostrander dominated at Eugene’s Hayward Field, winning the race by more than six seconds.
June 21: Boise State gets its first-ever first-round pick in the NBA Draft, as Chandler Hutchison is selected No. 22 overall by the Chicago Bulls. Hutchison had declared early for the draft the previous year but elected to return to the Broncos as a senior. The two-time All-Mountain West guard then became the first Bronco ever to lead the team in points, rebounds, assists and steals in the same season.
July 23: Troy Merritt captures his second PGA Tour event, winning the Barbasol Championship by one shot. After firing a course-record 62 in the first round, Merritt led or was tied for the lead after each day of the tournament. He’s is still the only Boise State alum ever to win on the PGA Tour.
September 8: Of all the great offensive days in Boise State football history, this is tops. The Broncos destroyed Connecticut 62-7 in their home opener, rolling up a school-record 818 yards of total offense, shattering the old mark by 76 yards. The balance was remarkable, with 418 yards passing and 400 rushing.
October 27: Boise State finally breaks through at the Air Force Academy, taking a wild 48-38 victory after losing to the Falcons there in 2014 and 2016. Brett Rypien righted the ship with 399 yards passing and five touchdowns. Three of them went to John Hightower, who had eight catches for 182 yards.
November 3: Another Boise State-BYU game goes to the wire, as Tyson Maeva and Scale Igiehon sack Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson at the Broncos’ four-yard line on the final play of the game to preserve a 21-16 win. Boise State roared out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead but bogged down after that, needing the high-level red zone effort of its defense and seven sacks of Wilson to hold off BYU.
November 9: Boise State enters a game on the blue turf as an underdog for the first time in 13 years—and responds. The Broncos rallied past No. 16 Fresno State 24-17 on ESPN2 to reclaim the Milk Can, as they finished with three straight touchdowns in the second half after falling behind the Bulldogs 17-3 early in the third quarter.
November 24: In a winner-take-all game for the Mountain Division title in the Mountain West, Boise State outlasts Utah State 33-24 on the blue turf to earn a spot in the conference championship game. The story was Bronco running back Alexander Mattison, who rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries, the third-most in school history.
December 1: As the rain turns to snow on the blue turf, the Boise State offense turns to slush in a 19-16 overtime loss to Fresno State in the Mountain West championship game. The exception was Alexander Mattison, who this time rushed for 200 yards on a school record-tying 40 carries. Mattison’s 34-yard touchdown run with eight minutes left in the game could have given Boise State the lead, but the extra point was blocked.
December 26: The most bizarre finish to a football game in Boise State history. In fact according to the First Responder Bowl, it never even happened, as the Broncos’ game against Boston College was cancelled with 5:08 left in the first quarter. The Eagles were leading 7-0 when a series of severe lightning storms began over the old Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas. It was a sudden and shocking way for Brett Rypien and 15 other Boise State seniors to end their Boise State careers.
Happy New Year!
(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.)