Vandals collapse in second half, BSU rolls

In a game that was actually tied at 21 with 8:27 left in the third quarter and included two Tracy Ford first half touchdown dives, Boise State reeled off 49 points in the final 20 minutes of the game, including 35 fourth quarter points, to record a 70-35 victory and tie the all-time series at 17-17-1.

On a fantastic fall afternoon in southern Idaho, the Vandals took the field for the 35th meeting between Idaho and Boise State. This has been a streaky series, as Idaho came in holding a 17-16-1 lead in the all-time record. But with BSU having won the last six, and favored by a hefty 32 ½ point margin, very few of the 30,394 fans in attendance envisioned a close ballgame.

This day, for at least the first two-and-a-half quarters of the game anyway, the Vandals proved to be a tougher opponent then anticipated.

In the first half neither team was particularly "hot" as the Vandals were down just 21-14 at the half. Credit the Broncos for taking advantage of two huge Vandal miscues. In the first quarter, for the second time this season Idaho's punt team yielded a return for a touchdown. Later, in the second quarter, Idaho quarterback Steve Wichman threw an interception deep in Idaho's end of the field setting up BSU's third touchdown of the game.

Idaho on the other hand took the workman's approach in putting together two lengthy scoring drives in the first half. BSU was stingy, forcing Idaho to go for it TWICE on fourth down to score both touchdowns. But Idaho came through and carried just a 21-14 deficit into the locker room at halftime.

The second half turned out be a BSU scoring barrage, aided by outstanding field position and a slew of missed Idaho tackles, blown coverage, and defensive breakdowns. And we're not talking just about the Vandal defense here. Boise State dominated this game on special teams, show-casing their team speed for four quarters. The Bronco punt and kick return teams regular set their offense up with great field position, and this was the most visible difference in the game.

The third quarter opened with BSU putting together a short drive inside Idaho territory, then getting backed out of field goal position on a key Charles Campbell sack. BSU punted, and Idaho could not put together a drive.

On BSU's next possession D.J. Dykes intercepted Zebransky's pass on the first play of the drive, stepping out of bounds at the BSU 33-yard line. The Vandals proceeded to go on an efficient march to the endzone, capped by Rolly Lumbala rushing to the right side from 7 yards out, stopping, and throwing back across the field to a wide-open Wichman who waltzed into the endzone for the game tying TD.

The score was knotted at 21, and this had the appearance of shaping up to be a battle.

BSU's next series began with another Zebranksy turnover, this one courtesy of a hard charging Cole Snyder who knocked the ball loose after the Bronco starter had gained enough yardage for a first down. Idaho recovered at the UI 41, and was poised to take their first lead over Boise State. The team had momentum, the ball, and Boise State was reeling.

Then two key momentum changing events happened.

The first event occurred when Wichman was dropped under a heavy rush by Bronco linebacker Colt Brooks and coughed up the ball. Boise State's Austin Smith scooped up the loose ball and returned it to the house to give BSU a 28-21 lead and momentum the team would capitalized on.

On BSU's next offensive series, the second momentum changing event happened as an ineffective Zebransky was replaced by sophomore Taylor Tharp and Boise's offense took off. The Bronco's would reel off 42-points with Tharp at the helm.

In the fourth quarter Idaho put together two long scoring drives as the team's traded scores during the middle of the fourth. The first cut BSU's lead to 56-28, the next cut the Bronco lead down to 63-35. Both came as a result of TD passes to Daniel Smith, who led all receivers with 114 yards on 10 receptions with 2 TDs. The Vandals were forced to abandon the running game early as Wichman finished with 350 yards on 33 of 61 passing for two touchdowns, with an uncharacteristic 3 picks (one returned for a TD) and the fumble.

Offensively, grayshirt freshman Tracy Ford had a solid game with 79 yards on 19 carries, including scoring two first half touchdowns on fourth-down plays at BSU's goal line. For the game Idaho converted 3 of 4 fourth down attempts.

Unfortunately for Idaho, the Bronco offense and special teams units hit their stride and proved to be too much for Idaho's rebuilding football team. Overall, the Vandals went into this game as heavy underdogs and, for the first two and a half quarters anyway, made it a ball game.

With one game left in the season (at San Jose State next Saturday), Idaho still has an opportunity to finish on a positive note with a one more conference victory. The Vandals have already exceeded expectations with two victories in this, their FIRST season in the much more competitive Western Athletic Conference.

A win at SJSU would help erase at least some of the frustration with today's loss and gain a little redemption.

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