Shannon Broderick, Associated Press

Late Safety Propels Wyoming Cowboys Past Boise State Broncos 30-28

Broncos' ongoing dances with fire hurt them this time...

LARAMIE, Wyoming--Defensive tackle Chase Appleby forced a fumble that bounced through the end zone for a safety with 1:25 remaining as surging Wyoming upset previously unbeaten #13 Boise State 30-28 last night.

The Broncos, who had shown a propensity to play close games this season, with three of their seven victories coming by a combined nine points, including a 28-27 nail-biter last week over BYU, were not as fortunate this time around.  The loss ended Boise State's nine-game winning streak, 10th-longest in program history.

 

The victory propelled the Cowboys into Top 25 discussions and are evidence of the remarkable turnaround that coach Craig Bohl has achieved in three seasons at the helm of the Wyoming program.  Wyoming was just 2-10 last season and is now in first place in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference with a perfect 4-0 conference mark and 6-2 overall.

Bohl, an assistant coach at his alma mater Nebraska for eight years, led North Dakota State to three consecutive FCS national championships from 2011-13 before coming to Wyoming.

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin credited Bohl after the game:  "They got some mojo going on out there."

 

Wyoming defeated the high-pedigree Broncos for the first time in 11 games.  Thousands of Cowboy faithful rushed the field to congratulate their team in the game's final seconds.

 

Boise State (7-1 and 3-1 in MW play), which came into the game #120 in the country in turnover margin, once again lost the turnover battle and it cost them dearly.  

 

The difference in the strength of the offensive line, quarterback play and the use of tight ends in the passing game between the two teams also were evident.  The Cowboy offensive line protected Josh Allen, whose laser-like precision passing, timely running and decision-making skills led Wyoming to remarkable success on third down, and opened big holes for Brian Hill, the nation's #2 rusher.  The Cowboys converted 10-of-18 such opportunities while Boise State was 2-of-8.

 

Allen completed 18-of-31 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns while Hill ran for 146 yards on 28 carries.  Tight end Jake Hollister, who seemingly ran through the Bronco defense unnoticed for much of the night, caught six passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns.  

 

Despite an early fumble by Jeremy McNichols, Boise State raced to a 21-10 lead in the second quarter after TD runs of 5 and 2 yards by McNichols and an 18-yard burst into the end zone by freshman Alexander Mattison.

McNichols ran his streak of scoring a touchdown to 20 consecutive games to tie Derrick Henry of Alabama for the second-longest streak over the last 10 years.

 

But the Broncos scored just seven points after that, as another turnover, an interception thrown late in the first half by Brett Rypien, resulted in an Allen to Hollister 28-yard touchdown pass two plays later that cut the halftime lead to 21-17.  The Bronco defense seemed to be unsure of their responsibilities on the play, as Hollister was uncovered.

 

Rypien led Boise State to the Wyoming 37 on the ensuing possession with consecutive completions to Chaz Anderson, Sean Modster, Cedrick Wilson and Thomas Sperbeck that covered 12, 18, 11 and 13 yards respectively.  The Bronco offense at that point had great field position and plenty of time (32 seconds) to find the end zone or maneuver into position for a field goal attempt.  But the Bronco offensive line allowed two consecutive sacks, the latter making it impossible for Rypien to even unleash a Hail Mary pass, to take away any scoring opportunity.

 

Punts filled the Laramie sky in the third quarter as both defenses dominated.  Then, the Cowboys mounted a 10-play drive late in the quarter, with Allen shining brightly on two consecutive third-down conversions.  First, Allen scrambled 16 yards on a third-and-10, and then hit C.J. Johnson with a bullet that went for 25 yards on a third-and-5 to the Bronco 29.  Shortly after the teams traded positions in the fourth quarter, Wyoming's Cooper Rothe connected on a 39-yard field goal that cut the once comfortable Bronco lead to one at 21-20.

 

Boise State responded with their only score in the last 36 minutes and 26 seconds of the game when they drove to the Wyoming 33.  On the next play, Rypien handed off to McNichols, who pitched it to wide receiver Sperbeck on an end-around.  Sperbeck, a quarterback in high school, rolled out to his right and fired a perfect pass to an uncovered Rypien, who sprinted into the end zone for a 28-20 lead.   Five of Sperbeck's eight collegiate completions (8-13 for 61.5%) have gone for touchdowns in his Boise State career.

 

Wyoming came back with a 75-yard drive of their own, converting three more consecutive third-downs, the last on a third-and-13 when Allen found Tanner Gentry with a 27-yard scoring strike.  Allen then threaded the needle to Jake Maulhardt for a two-point conversion that tied the score with 6:42 left in the game.

 

Both defenses held, with an Ethan Wood punt backing Boise State up to it's own 10-yard line.  Rather than attempting to run out the clock and play overtime, Harsin elected to go for the winning score.  Rypien's first-down pass to Sperbeck was incomplete, and on second down, he dropped back near his goal line, when Appleby engaged Bronco guard Travis Averill and then burst past Bronco tackle Archie Lewis untouched to knock the ball out of the end zone.

 

Boise State failed on an onside kick and the Cowboys ran out the clock to the delight of their home fans.

 

Rypien completed 22-of-35 passes for 295 yards for Boise State, which dropped to 3-1 in conference play.  Rypien moved past Grant Hedrick (2011-14) and Jim McMillan (1971-74) and is now sixth at Boise State with 5,722 career passing yards (see charts at conclusion of this article.)  However, Rypien saw his streak of 13 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, third-longest at Boise State, end in tonight's loss.  

Sperbeck, who passed legendary Boise State receiver Don Hutt (1970-73) for fifth place in career receptions, led the Bronco receivers with eight catches for 80 while Wilson finished with four for 84 yards.

McNichols, the country's #6 rusher coming into the game, ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns to over the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season.  It is the 24th time since 1979 that a Bronco running back has topped 1,000 yards in a season.  

McNichols passed David Mikell (2000-03) and Chris Thomas (1988-1991) and is now seventh all-time with 34 career rushing touchdowns.  McNichols also tied Thomas for sixth with his 13th career game of 100 or more yards.  McNichols and Thomas are tied for second in career receptions by a Bronco running back with 93.  Brock Forsey (1999-2002) is the school record holder with 103.

 

The total offense by the two teams was as close as the score, with Wyoming outgaining the Broncos 489 yards to 487.

 

Boise State hosts San Jose State next Friday night, while Wyoming stays home against Utah State, the last-place team in the Mountain Division.

***********************************************************

Career Receptions

1. Matt Miller (234) 2011-2014

2. Shane Williams-Rhodes (232) 2012-2015

3. Austin Pettis (228) 2007-2010

4. Titus Young (204) 2007-2010

5. Thomas Sperbeck (193) 2013-current

6. Don Hutt (189) 1970-1973

7. Jeremy Childs (168) 2006-2008

7. Ryan Ikebe (162) 1993-1996

9. Mike Wilson (159) 1990-1993

10.Jay Swillie (140) 1999-2002

10.Eric Andrade (140) 1983-1984/1986-1987

12. Mike Holton (139) 1972/1974-1976

13.  Terry Hutt (132) 1973-1974/1976-1977

14.  Lou Fanucchi (131) 1999-2002

15.  Jeb Putzier (128) 1998-2001

16.  Kim Metcalf (126) 1980-1984

17.  Kipp Bedard (122) 1979-1981

17.  Tyler Shoemaker (122) 2008-2011

19.  Rodney Smith (117) 1997-1998

19.  Sheldon Forehand (117) 1989-1992

Career Passing Yards:

  1.  Kellen Moore (14,534) 2008-2011)
  2.  Ryan Dinwiddie (9,819) 2000-2003
  3.  Tony Hilde (9,107) 1993-1996
  4.  Bart Hendricks (9,020) 1997-2000
  5.  Jared Zabransky (8,256) 2003-2006
  6.  Brett Rypien (5,722) 2015-current
  7.  Grant Hedrick (5,656) 2011-2014)
  8.  Jim McMillan (5,508) 1971-1974
  9.  Joe Southwick (4,784) 2010-2013
  10.  Hazsen Choates (4,524) 1983-86
  11.  Mike Virden (4,294) 1989-90
  12.  Eric Guthrie (4,204) 1968-71
  13.  Taylor Tharp (3,699) 2004-2007
  14.  Gerald DesPres (3,579) 1981-84
  15.  Joe Aliotti (3,460) 1979-1980

Career 100+ Yard Rushing Games:

1.    Cedric Minter (20) 1977-1980

2.    Brock Forsey (19) 1999-2002

3.    Doug Martin (17) 2008-2011

3.    Jay Ajayi (17) 2012-2014

5.    Ian Johnson (16) 2005-2008

6.    Chris Thomas (13) 1988-1991

6.    Jeremy McNichols (13) 2014-current

8.    Jon Francis (12) 1984-1985

8.    Rodney Webster (12) 1980-1983

10.  D.J. Harper (10) 2007-2012 

Career Rushing Touchdowns

1.    Ian Johnson (58) 2005-2008

2.    Brock Forsey (50) 1999-2002

2.    Jay Ajayi (50) 2012-2014

4.    Doug Martin (43) 2008-2011

5.    D.J. Harper (39) 2007-2012

6.    Cedric Minter (37) 1977-1980

7.    Jeremy McNichols (34) 2014-current

8.    David Mikell (32) 2000-2003

8.    Chris Thomas (32) 1988-1991

10.  Jared Zabransky (31) 2003-2006

11.  Jeremy Avery (29) 2007-2010

12.  Terry Zahner (21) 1977-1980

13.  Bart Hendricks (20) 1997-2000

13.  Rodney Webster (20) 1980-1983

15.  Abe Brown (19) 1968-1969

15.  Tony Hilde (19) 1993-1996

Rushing Yards in a Season:

1.    Jay Ajayi (1,823) 2014

2.    Ian Johnson (1,713) 2006

3.    Brock Forsey (1,611) 2002

4.    Cedric Minter (1,526) 1978

5.    Jay Ajayi (1,425) 2013

6.    Jeremy McNichols (1,337) 2015

7.    Doug Martin (1,299) 2011

8.    K.C. Adams (1,275) 1994

9.    Chris Jackson (1,273) 1987

10.  Doug Martin (1,260) 2010

11.  Brock Forsey (1,207) 2001

12.  Jeremy Avery (1,151) 2009

13.  Doug Martin (1,148) 2011

14.  Jon Francis (1,147) 1985

15.  David Mikell (1,142) 2003

15.  Eron Hurley (1,142) 1998

17.  Rodney Webster (1,139) 1981

18.  D.J. Harper (1,137) 2012

19.  Cedric Minter (1,060) 1980

20.  Jeremy McNichols (1,058) 2016

21.  Ian Johnson (1,041) 2007

22.  Rodney Webster (1,037) 1983

23.  Jon Francis (1,025) 1984

24.  Cedric Minter (1,012) 1979

Career Receptions by a Running Back:

1.    Brock Forsey (103) 1999-2002

2.    Chris Thomas (93) 1987-1991

2.    Jeremy McNichols (93) 2014-current

4.    John Smith (89) 1972-1975

5.    Jeremy Avery (87) 2007-2010

6.    David Hughes (80) 1977-1980

7.    Jay Ajayi (73) 2012-2014

8.    Rodney Webster (70) 1980-1983

9.    Doug Martin (67) 2008-2011

10.  Ian Johnson (60) 2005-2008


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