Brian Losness, USA Today Sports

Polite Boise State Broncos Down San Jose State Spartans 45-31

Boise State's ground game helps the Broncos rebound from loss to Wyoming...

BOISE, Idaho--No one can ever accuse this Boise State team of running up the score.  

 

Once again, the Bronco defense made an opponent look like one of the nation's most potent offenses in a 45-31 win over unheralded San Jose State last night in Bronco Stadium.  

 

San Jose State, came into the game ranked 96th in the country in total offense, but often made it look like the Broncos were two or three players short in big plays that continually burned the Boise State defense.  A 29.5-point underdog, the Spartans accumulated 495 yards of offense to remain in the game until the final minutes.

 

Frustrated by a 7-6 advantage after the first quarter, Bronco coach Bryan Harsin called for a fake punt on fourth-and-12 from Boise State's own 37-yard line.  Upon taking the snap, punter Sean Wale ran straight for his line, eluded a would-be tackler, and raced 29 yards to preserve the drive.

 

'It was my one chance to shine, and I certainly wasn't sliding. But I didn't really know what to do once I got into the open field," Wale said.

 

It seemed to be the spark that the Bronco offense needed.  Three plays later, freshman running back Alexander Mattison scored on a 19-yard run.  

 

''It could've been a stop on downs for us if we'd been able to make the play,'' Spartans coach Ron Caragher said. ''But we didn't and it changed the momentum of the game.''


Caragher's team, which started the year 1-5, fought back on the next drive with quarterback Kenny Potter finding Rahshead Johnson with a 12-yard scoring strike that cut the lead to 14-13 with 10 minutes left in the half.  

 

Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien connected with Cedrick Wilson on a 25-yard pass and then hooked up with Wilson on a fourth-down conversion  to highlight a Bronco drive that culminated in a 34-yard Tyler Rausa field goal.

 

After the Bronco defense made one of their few stops of the evening, Boise State mounted an eight-play drive with Jeremy McNichols carrying it in from seven yards out to extend the lead to 24-13 with 2:06 left in the half.

 

However, the Spartans responded with a quick drive before halftime, with Bryce Crawford converting a 39-yard field goal with 10 seconds left and the teams went into their respective locker rooms with Boise State holding a 24-16 advantage.

Brian Losness, USA Today Sports

McNichols' 27-yard run keyed a 70-yard Bronco drive to open the second half with Rypien spotting Wilson for a 15-yard scoring pass.  After a sequence of punts, the Rypien-to-Wilson connection paid off again as Rypien found Wilson alone.  Wilson sprinted along the right sideline and dove for the pylon to complete a 36-yard scoring play that gave Boise State one of their largest leads of the season, 38-16.

 

But the hospitable Broncos played gracious hosts by once again letting an opponent back into the game.  San Jose State marched down the field on an 11-play, 78-yard drive with Potter guiding an 11-yard pass to Justin Holmes in the end zone to cut the lead to 38-23 with 11:13 left in the game.

 

After the Bronco offense chewed up 6:48 of clock and scored on a five-yard pass from Rypien to tight end Alec Dhaenens, San Jose State needed just 56 seconds to return the favor.  On the fourth play of the Spartan's next possession, Malik Roberson burst through the Bronco defense untouched on the way to a 60-yard score.  Potter dove in for an easy two-point conversion to cut the lead to 45-31 with 3:29 left.  

 

Boise State, which has had considerable trouble with onside kicks this season, nearly failed to recover one again before McNichols alertly batted the ball out of bounds.  Boise State turned it over on downs, but San Jose State was unable to come up with last-minute heroics and the Broncos prevailed.

 

Boise State advanced to 8-1 overall and 4-1 in the Mountain West Conference with the victory.  The Broncos lost for the first time last week at Wyoming and cling to only faint hopes of winning their own division.

 

McNichols (158 yards) and Mattison each surpassed 100 rushing yards, with Mattison running for a career-high 100 yards on 18 carries.  

''(Giving Mattison more carries) was predetermined on our part,'' Harsin said. ''We knew he was ready for his opportunity. But it's not just about running the ball. It's also about being able to protect the quarterback in different looks."

 

McNichols recorded his fourth 100-yard performance in a row and the seventh this season and moved into a tie for sixth in the Bronco record book for most touchdowns in a season with 16 (see charts at conclusion of article.)  McNichols has now rushed for 150 or more yards six times, fourth all-time at Boise State.

 

McNichols added one catch for nine yards and passed Jeremy Avery (2007-10) for ninth place in career all-purpose yards.  McNichols is nine catches and 36 yards behind Brock Forsey (1999-2002) for the most career receptions and reception yards by a running back in Boise State history.

 

Rypien enjoyed his most accurate passing game of the season, completing 16-of-21 for 219 yards and three scores to pass Joe Southwick (2010-13) for seventh place in career completions.  

Wilson led the Bronco receivers with six catches for 102 yards and two of those touchdowns.


San Jose State fell to 3-7 and 2-4.  Happy to face little pressure from the Boise State defense, Spartan quarterback Potter completed 23-of-36 passes for 278 yards and chalked up 67 rushing yards on 14 carries.  Potter wasn't sacked until the final play of the game.

 

Meanwhile, Roberson plowed through the Bronco defense for 109 yards and a touchdown.

 

Boise State travels to Hawai'i next Saturday while San Jose State has a bye week before hosting Air Force on November 19.

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Rushing Touchdowns in a Season:

1.    Jay Ajayi (28) 2014

2.    Brock Forsey (26) 2002

3.    Ian Johnson (25) 2006

4.    Jeremy McNichols (20) 2015

5.    Jay Ajayi (18) 2013

6.    Ian Johnson (16) 2007

6.    Chris Jackson (16) 1987

6.    Doug Martin (16) 2011

6.   Jeremy McNichols (16) 2016

10.  D.J. Harper (15) 2012

10.  Doug Martin (15) 2009

12.  Jon Helmandollar (14) 2004

13.  Ian Johnson (13) 2008

13.  Jared Zabransky (13) 2004

13.  David Mikell (13) 2003

13.  Brock Forsey (13) 2001

17.  Doug Martin (12) 2010

17.  Ryan Dinwiddie (12) 2003

17.  Rodney Webster (12) 1981

20.  Jeremy Avery (11) 2010)

20.  Jared Zabransky (11) 2005

20.  Eron Hurley (11) 1998

20.  Cedric Minter (11) 1980

Career 150-Yard Rushing Games:

1.    Cedric Minter (8) 1977-1980

1.    Brock Forsey (8) 1999-2002

3.    Jay Ajayi (8) 2012-2014

4.    Jeremy McNichols (6) 2014-current

5.    Ian Johnson (5) 2005-2008

6.    Doug Martin (4) 2010-2011

7.    Rodney Webster (3) 1980-1983

7.    Chris Jackson (3) 1986-1987

7.    Chris Thomas (3) 1987-1991

10.  Jon Francis (2) 1984-1985

10.  K.C. Adams (2) 1994

10.  Eron Hurley (2) 1995-1999

10.  Jeremy Avery (2) 2007-2010

10.  D.J. Harper (2) 2007-2012

15.  John Smith (1) 1972-1975

15.  Terry Zahner (1) 1977-1980

15.  Willie Bowens (1) 1993-1994

15.  David Mikell (1) 2000-2003)

All-Purpose Yards, Career:

1.    Brock Forsey (6,670) 1999-2002

2.    Titus Young (5,502) 2007-2010

3.    Cedric Minter (5,316) 1977-1980

4.    David Mikell (5,032) 2000-2003

5.    Ian Johnson (4,927) 2005-2008

6.    Doug Martin (4,885) 2008-2011

7.    Chris Thomas (4,807) 1988-1991

8.    Jay Ajayi (4,583) 2012-2014

9.    Jeremy McNichols (4,280) 2014-current

10.  Jeremy Avery (4,142) 2007-2010

11.  Ryan Ikebe (3,700) 1993-1996

12.  Rodney Webster (3,665) 1980-1983

13.  John Smith (3,549) 1972-1975

14.  D.J. Harper (3,450) 2007-2012

15.  Thomas Sperbeck (3,317) 2013-current

16.  Shane Williams-Rhodes (3,312) 2012-2015

17.  Tim Gilligan (3,076) 2000-2003

18.  Matt Miller (3,049) 2011-2014

19.  Terry Zahner (2,903) 1977-1980

20.  Don Hutt (2,870) 1970-1973

21.  Mike Wilson (2,849) 1990-1993

22.  Austin Pettis (2,842) 2007-2010

23.  Jon Francis (2,767) 1984-1985

24.  Quinton Jones (2,723) 2004-2006

25.  Kerry Lawyer (2,639) 1991-1993

Career Receptions by a Running Back:

1.    Brock Forsey (103) 1999-2002

2.    Jeremy McNichols (94) 2014-current

3.    Chris Thomas (93) 1987-1991

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

Career Receiving Yards By a Running Back: 

1.    Brock Forsey (1,050) 1999-2002

2.    Jeremy McNichols (1,014) 2014-current

3.    Jeremy Avery (790) 2007-2010

4.    Jay Ajayi (771) 2012-2014

5.    Doug Martin (715) 2008-2010

Career Completions:
1.    Kellen Moore (1,157) 2008-2011

2.    Bart Hendricks (650) 1997-2000
3.   Tony Hilde (629) 1993-1996
4.    Ryan Dinwiddie (622) 2000-2003
5.    Jared Zabransky (610) 2003-2006

6.    Grant Hedrick (475) 2011-2014

7.    Brett Rypien (447) 2015-current  

8.    Joe Southwick (439) 2010-2013

9.    Jim McMillan (382) 1971-1974

10.  Mike Virden (324) 1989-1990

11.  Taylor Tharp (321) 2004-2007
12.  Hazsen Choates (316) 1983-1986

13.  Gerald DesPres (281) 1981-1984

14.  Joe Aliotti (278) 1979-1980

15.  Eric Guthrie (275) 1968-1971


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