September 20, 2012, 10 years ago today: In the lowest-scoring game in Albertsons Stadium history, Boise State edges BYU 7-6 before a vociferous record crowd of 36,864 in the newly-expanded facility.A national ESPN audience expecting offense got defense instead, as the Broncos held the Cougars to 200 total yards, and BYU returned the favor by keeping Boise State’s offense out of the end zone. The Broncos did not score a touchdown on the blue turf for the first time since Boise State moved to Division I-A in 1996. It was also the lowest combined score in a Broncos game—home or away—in 34 years, since a 7-3 loss at Cal Poly in 1978.
Included in the futility was a four-and-out that will live in infamy after Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe’s fumble recovery gave Boise State a first-and-goal at the BYU one. The Cougars pulled off a goal-line stand for the ages. The offense did one thing really well, though: it took care of the ball. The Broncos didn’t turn the ball over once, while the defense was grabbing five turnovers from BYU. One of them produced the Broncos’ only touchdown, a 36-yard interception return by 306-pound defensive tackle Mike Atkinson.
Riley Nelson started the game at quarterback for BYU, but he was mercilessly hounded by a Boise State pass rush led by star defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who set the tone with a sack on the first play of the game. Late in the third quarter, the Cougars turned to redshirt freshman Taysom Hill, who gave them a spark. Hill marched BYU 95 yards in the fourth quarter and scored on a four-yard run with 3½ minutes left. Coach Bronco Mendenhall elected to go for two points, and Hill’s pass was incomplete.
From kickoff to final whistle, it was the loudest game in the history of Albertsons Stadium. Needless to say, there was noise on every BYU defensive down, and there were enough Cougars fans to make a racket when the Broncos had the ball. When Atkinson scored his legendary “Fat Guy Touchdown,” it was deafening. The only single moment on the blue turf louder than that, in my opinion, was in Boise State’s 2009 win over Oregon when the Broncos’ Billy Winn knifed through to tackle the Ducks’ LeGarrette Blount for a safety.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)