About great calls and gutsy calls

In the first two Boise State-Air Force games played in Colorado Springs, both Bronco losses, the offense was a letdown, and decent defensive performances couldn’t overcome it. The tables were turned Saturday night, as the Boise State offense offset occasional lapses by the defense to post a wild 48-38 win over the Falcons. Make no mistake, the Broncos called a great game. The most obvious gold strikes were the 35-yard touchdown from Brett Rypien to CT Thomas on fourth-and-10 at the end of the first half and the 61-yard bomb from Rypien to John Hightower late in the fourth quarter for the final TD of the game. Gutsy. But this one should not be overlooked: the call for an inside screen to Hightower that sniffed out an Air Force blitz and resulted in an 18-yard first-quarter score. Crafty.

The second phase of Rypien’s redemption tour is complete (the first phase was at Wyoming). He was 20-of-34—just 59 percent—as he survived a 4-of-13 stretch late in the first half. But that ended with an exclamation point on the TD throw to Thomas. Rypien threw five touchdown passes for the second time in his career and was one yard short of 400 for the night. Darn the luck. (He was one yard short of 300 in the win at Nevada two weeks prior.) Rypien now has 20 games of 300 or more yards in his career, tying the Mountain West record held by BYU’s Max Hall. Rypien also now has 83 career TD passes, topping Ryan Dinwiddie by one for second place in the Boise State record book.

Hightower did not have a reception for the first time this season against Colorado State. There would be no trend coming out of that at Air Force. Hightower notched career-highs with eight catches, 182 yards and three touchdowns. And, after being flagged at Nevada for his TD celebration following the 88-yard run, he now sprints back to the bench after a touchdown. The big picture is the mastery in the Boise State wide receivers room this season. Amazing balance there. Sean Modster has 43 catches, A.J. Richardson 35, Hightower 29 and Thomas 28. That “fab four” has now combined for 20 touchdowns this season.

On the first Air Force drive Saturday night, every Boise State fear about that notorious offense was realized. The dreaded dive play, the quarterback clicking on the triple-option, and the sucker pass over the top for the long-gainer. The Falcons were in the end zone in six plays. In the second quarter they went all Broncos on the Broncos, scoring on a 32-yard wide receiver pass. Air Force gained 9.3 yards per play in the first half. But Boise State circled the wagons at halftime, made their adjustments and forced punts on the Falcons’ first two drives of the third quarter. The Broncos held Air Force to 4.5 yards per play in the second half. All things considered, that’s pretty good.

In the Big Sky, Idaho never had a chance at Eastern Washington Saturday. The fourth-ranked Eagles rolled to a 31-0 halftime lead and coasted to a 38-14 win over the Vandals. Idaho’s bright spot was James Cotton, who recorded his first 100-yard receiving day with eight catches for 110 yards. But the Vandals managed only 129 yards in the first half and had trouble stretching the field again in the passing game. In Pocatello, Montana State scored on the first drive of former Boise State star Matt Miller’s tenure as offensive coordinator. But Idaho State bottled up the Bobcats otherwise in a 24-17 victory, ending an 11-game losing streak to MSU. It was a workmanlike effort for Bengals quarterback Tanner Gueller, who was 18-of-29 for 218 yards and two touchdowns.

Game No. 2 was certainly different than Game No. 1 against Eastern Oregon for College of Idaho. The Coyotes avenged a season-opening loss by blasting past the 19th-ranked Mountaineers 48-24 in the home finale at Simplot Stadium Saturday. Darius-James Peterson did it again, throwing for a career-high 360 yards with help from 100-yard receiving days by both Connor Richardson and Keegan Crafton. The Yotes defense forced four turnovers, allowing for an astounding 42 minutes of possession time for the home team. C of I suddenly finds itself at 4-5, riding its first four-game winning streak since 1969.

It was looking like a good day for Doug Martin yesterday, as he got his first start with the Oakland Raiders and gained 72 yards on 12 carries. The former Boise State star had busted a 29-yard run in the second quarter to set up the Raiders’ second touchdown. But in the fourth quarter, with Oakland having just fallen behind Indianapolis 35-28, Martin lost a fumble on the first play of the Raiders ensuing possession. The Colts took over at the Oakland 27-yard line and marched in for an insurance TD and a 42-28 victory. That threw serious cold water on Martin’s effort—the 72 yards were his most since a 74-yard night in his first appearance of the 2017 season for Tampa Bay.

For the first time in this young season, the Idaho Steelheads got on the board first Friday night when Steve McParland scored less than seven minutes into the game at Utah. But the Grizzlies would get the win in a 3-2 decision. The Steelheads returned the favor with a 3-2 victory of their own Saturday night, this one in overtime. Brad McClure connected from the right circle 2½ minutes into the OT to win it. The Steelies’ road trip continues tomorrow night with a game against the Indy Fuel.

Friday was Trophy Day for three Boise State teams, and the Broncos came out with a win, a loss and a tie. The Boise State men won the Mountain West cross country championship at Balboa Park in San Diego, while the Bronco women came within two points of knocking off 10-time defending conference champion and reigning national champ New Mexico. Later in the day at the Boas Complex, the 20th goal of the season by Raimee Sherle wasn’t enough to prevent a stunning 2-1 double-overtime upset at the hands of Utah State. The Broncos, therefore, share the Mountain West regular season title with Wyoming and New Mexico, but they do get the top seed in the conference tournament this week in San Jose.

This Day In Sports…brought to you by LOUIE’S PIZZA & ITALIAN RESTAURANT…an Idaho tradition for more than 50 years!

October 29, 2003, 15 years ago today: At the time we wondered how significant it would be over time, but it’s now a landmark day in pro basketball history. Six months after the third and final retirement of Michael Jordan, LeBron James makes his much-anticipated NBA debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 18-year-old phenom was impressive, scoring 25 points with nine assists and four steals in a 106-92 road loss to the Sacramento Kings.

(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.)