The types of things that used to happen to Boise State during their three-year losing streak to Air Force flipped on the Falcons Saturday night. It started with three fumble recoveries, including Tyler Horton’s 21-yard scoop-and-score, as the Broncos rolled to a 44-19 victory Saturday night, their seventh win in a row. Air Force was playing without quarterback Arion Worthman, but veteran Nate Romine was not much of a drop-off. However, outside of two Romine runs that totaled 50 yards, the Boise State defense disrupted the Falcons’ triple-offense to the tune of 141 yards rushing and just 2.9 yards per carry. This came against an offense that was top five in the nation in rushing.
From the outset of the season, everybody wondered whether Boise State, with Thomas Sperbeck and Chaz Anderson gone, had the guys to give Cedrick Wilson a “second wave” at wide receiver. In September, it was more like a ripple, as the Bronco offense struggled. But the second wave slowly built during October and into November, and Saturday night it hit the beach. A.J. Richardson’s 87-yard touchdown catch from Brett Rypien was a textbook deep ball—and it was Richardson’s first career TD thrown by a quarterback (his only other score was two years ago on a trick play from Sperbeck). It helped earn Richardson his first 100-yard game, on just three catches. Sean Modster and Octavius Evans also had touchdowns. The second wave had nine receptions for 180 yards, exactly 20 yards per catch.
The expectation was that Boise State could run on Air Force. The Broncos couldn’t, what with the Falcons stacking the box and keying on Alexander Mattison like they did. It was a classic take-what-the-defense-gives-you game, and Boise State took the passing lanes. After completing less than 35 percent of his attempts during last year’s 9-for-26 nightmare at the Academy, Rypien went 16-of-22–a 73 percent clip—for exactly 300 yards and three touchdowns. A week after his 242-yard night at Colorado State, Alexander Mattison was the fall guy in Air Force’s plan, with his production dropping by exactly 200 yards (he rushed for just 42 yards on 17 carries). But he did have 38 yards on a couple of flips from Montell Cozart that were ruled pass completions.
You don’t think AP Poll voters are influenced by the College Football Playoff rankings, do you? Boise State had eight points in last week’s AP Poll—then the Broncos popped into last week’s CFP rankings for the first time, and voila! They’re No. 25 in AP and No. 24 in the Coaches Poll this week, making this the 16th straight year they’ve been ranked at some point during the season. At 9-2, Boise State has at least nine wins in 17 of the last 19 years. And (I forgot to mention this last week), the Broncos are the only team in the country to have won at least eight games in 19 consecutive seasons.
What a fascinating couple of weeks we have coming up now. Fresno State’s 13-7 win over Josh Allen-less Wyoming Saturday clinched both divisions of the Mountain West for the Bulldogs and Boise State before the Broncos even kicked off, and they will meet for the Mountain West championship a week from this Saturday—probably on the blue turf. It’s hard to imagine Boise State falling enough in the computer rankings to be leapfrogged by Fresno State, even if the Broncos fall in the regular season finale this week at Bulldog Stadium. Boise State and Fresno State played twice in 2014, and they’re facing off twice this season. So that’s four matchups in four years. It’s like the rivalry never left. Now, inquiring minds want to know: how will each of these teams handle the first four quarters on this two-week, two-city journey?
Without Matt Linehan, Idaho was in the danger zone going into its Senior Day matchup against underdog Coastal Carolina Saturday. Mason Petrino hung in the best he could, leading the Vandals to a touchdown on the opening possession, but they were blanked the rest of the way in a 13-7 loss to the Chanticleers. Coach Paul Petrino didn’t pull in the reins on son Mason, who went 18-of-26 for 177 yards and a touchdown, but Idaho was out of sync without Linehan. The loss ended the Vandals’ bowl hopes and spoiled a great effort by their defense, which allowed its fewest points of the season. Kaden Elliss had another big game with 10 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.
The Boise State men’s hoops team displayed a gutty kind of chemistry in taking the second place trophy last night at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. With Chandler Hutchison on the bench early in apparent concussion protocol, the Bronco offense was floundering against Iowa State in the tournament final. With just over 15 minutes left in the game, the Cyclones led by 24 and were in total control. Then Boise State started to whittle…and whittle…and whittle. The Broncos went on a 32-12 run and got the lead down to four with 1½ minutes remaining before ISU held off the charge for a 75-64 victory. Hutchison, in street clothes, was willing Boise State on during the run. The hottest Bronco in the second half was graduate transfer Christian Sengfelder, who scored 14 of his team-high 20 points after the intermission.
Hutchison suffered his injury when he fell to the floor and hit his head hard just 3½ minutes into the game. Nevertheless, he stayed in the game until he was sent to the locker room midway through the first half. Hutchison, out of uniform, returned just before halftime in street clothes but remained passionately involved in the game. He had been on his way to the all-tournament team after his 19-point, 18-rebound effort in Friday’s 82-64 romp over a good Illinois State team, a game that saw Boise State with a stunning 57-27 advantage on the boards. Hutchison and Sengfelder were indeed named all-tournament performers. Now the waiting game begins for Hutchison and his blow to the head. Fortunately, the Broncos don’t play against until this Saturday night in Taco Bell Arena against Loyola-Marymount.
Two other local notes: the Idaho Steelheads showed some gumption Saturday night, rallying with three unanswered goals in the third period to win 3-2 and complete a three-game sweep of the Rapid City Rush. What’s more, the Steelheads got the game-winner on a short-handed goal from A.J. White with seven minutes left—and then shut the Rush down from there. The Steelies won four of five games on their Texas-South Dakota road trip and return home Wednesday night against Allen. And the Boise State women’s cross country team finished a program-record sixth at the NCAA Championships Saturday, spurred by Allie Ostrander’s fourth-place individual finish. The result earned Ostrander the fourth All-America honor of her career. The Bronco men were top 20 in the country, finishing 19th.
This Day In Sports…November 20, 2012, five years ago today:
Jack Taylor of Division III Grinnell College in Iowa sets an all-time NCAA record with a stunning 138 points in a 179-104 win over Faith Baptist Bible College. Taylor scored 58 points in the first half and 80 in the second and put up 108 field goal attempts, an average of three per minute. He hit 27 three-pointers, including a stretch of seven in a row in less than two minutes. Taylor was an instant sensation, appearing the following day on the Today Show, Good Morning America and Jimmy Kimmel Live. But he never played pro basketball.
(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.)