Jay Ajayi rambled for 116 of his 152 rushing yards in the second half and Grant Hedrick completed 26-of-31 passes for 346 yards as Boise State rebounded for a 51-46 win over the Wolf Pack last night. Ajayi had TD runs of 1, 26 and 2 yards in the second half, which withstood a late charge from Nevada to advance to 4-2 on the season, 2-1 in the Mountain West. The wild game featured over 1,000 combined total yards from the Broncos and Wolf Pack.
The Bronco defense intercepted star quarterback Cody Fajardo four times, with each of them leading to scores. But three Boise State turnovers left the door open for Nevada.
Ajay's second score of the game halfway through the third quarter had Boise State seemingly in command, 44-29, with the ball. But Ian Seau went up high to tip a Hedrick pass, caught it, and ran untouched from 32 yards out to breath new life into the home team. But on the next possession, Ajayi made an unbelievable cut to the outside and spurted 74 yards to the Nevada 5. He scored two plays later and once again, Boise State led by 15.
That wouldn't last long, 52 seconds to be exact. Freshman James Butler's 51-yard run set up a Fajardo to Jarred Gipson touchdown pass to bring the Pack back to 51-43. After Hedrick fumbled on his own 42, Fajardo led the Wolf Pack on a nine-play drive that culminated in a 45-yard Brent Zuzo field goal with 7:56 remaining. Neither team mounted a threat after that, and the Broncos went into the "victory formation" with 1:22 left and ran out the clock.
After the teams traded two touchdowns, Dan Goodale put Boise State ahead 16-14 midway through the second quarter. But two Fajardo to Hasaan Henderson passes of 30 and 34 yards had the Wolf Pack knocking on the door less than three minutes later, and Fajardo connected with Jerico Richardson wide open for a 12-yard scoring play that put Nevada ahead 21-16.
After a Boise State drive stalled, Nevada got the ball back with 3:36 to play. Nevada coach Brian Polian elected to go for more points rather than milk the clock, and it cost him. Linebacker Tyler Gray made the play of the game when he stepped in front of a Fajardo pass and ran 32 yards into the end zone. The pick six completely changed the momentum.
When Nevada got the ball again, Polian again sent his quarterback back to pass. This time, Fajardo overthrew his intended receiver, and cornerback Donte Deayon made a circus catch for another interception, coming down hard. Deayon, who just returned from injury, did not play the rest of the game and his status is unknown.
Hedrick fired a bomb to Chaz Anderson of 55 yards that put Boise State on the Nevada 4. Two plays later, Hedrick kept it himself for the touchdown. The sudden turnaround had the Broncos feeling pretty good at halftime about the way things turned out.
Without star receiver Matt Miller, Boise State turned to Thomas Sperbeck, who had three receptions for 51 yards, and Shane Williams-Rhodes, who had six catches for 54 yards for the Broncos. True freshman Jeremy McNichols came off the bench in his first action of the year to spark the Bronco offense. McNichols impressed with four catches for 54 yards and a run of 28 yards.
The nationally-televised game was certainly entertaining: Boise State piled up 570 yards of total offense, while Nevada had 462.
Ajayi's three touchdowns enabled him to move past Jeremy Avery into ninth place all-time at Boise State with 30 career rushing TD's.
The Broncos have a well-placed bye to recover from numerous injuries before playing rival Fresno State in Bronco Stadium on October 17.