(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
BOISE, Idaho - A defensive touchdown won the game for No. 24 Boise State as the BYU football team was unable to overcome five turnovers and narrowly fell to the Broncos 7-6 Thursday night at Broncos Stadium.
After a defensive struggle in the first half that resulted in a scoreless tie, the defense continued to show it dominated the game. In the first drive of the second half, Boise State’s (2-1) defensive tackle Mike Atkinson intercepted senior Riley Nelson and ran it back for the game-winning 36-yard touchdown, putting the Broncos up 7-0 just 1:36 into the second half.
BYU had a chance to tie the game after freshman Taysom Hill engineered a 95-yard scoring drive, pushing into the endzone on an eight-yard quarterback keeper for the only offensive score of the game with 3:37 left to play. The Cougars attempted a two-point conversion but failed to convert to come up a point shy.
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Both defenses put on a strong performance, with BYU (2-2) holding Boise State to 261 total yards, its 10th consecutive game holding its opponent to under 300 yards, and no offensive touchdowns. The Broncos gave up 200 yards to the Cougar offense.
Three players led the BYU defensive attack with eight tackles, junior Daniel Sorensen, and seniors Brandon Ogletree and Ezekiel Ansah. Ogleetree and Ansah each had 2.5 tackles for loss with Ansah recording his first career sack, and the first allowed by Boise State this season.
Hill finished the night as the team’s leading rusher with 72 yards on 12 attempts and a touchdown. Hill completed 4 of 10 passes for 42 yards. Junior Cody Hoffman led in receiving yards with 21 on three receptions. The game extended Hoffman's reception streak to 23 games, passing BYU's all-time leading receiver Austin Collie's longest streak (22).
Both defenses came out ready to play to start the game, forcing five three-and-outs and a failed fourth-down conversion attempt in the first quarter. Boise State had the first chance to put points on the board, but Michael Frisina missed wide right on a 33-yard field goal attempt with 7:09 left in the first quarter.
The Broncos faked a punt on 4th-and-2 but Ansah came up with a big stop to set the Cougars up with a short field. A chop-block penalty pushed BYU back to the 17-yard line before Boise State picked off Nelson to put its offense back on the field. Nelson finished the night 4 of 9 for 19 yards and three interceptions.
The Broncos out-gained BYU 158 yards to 68 in the half, but failed to gain any advantage on the scoreboard, entering halftime 0-0, despite three scoring chances deep in BYU's territory.
After Boise State put the first points up on the board to start the second half, the Broncos pinned BYU on the 1-yard line. There, the Broncos forced and recovered a fifth Cougar turnover but the BYU defense continued to show its stamina with a goal-line stand. Kyle Van Noy made the drive-ending play where Boise State failed to convert its fifth, fourth down. The stop put the ball back in BYU's hand, where the Cougars marched down field for a touchdown.
BYU vs. Boise State postgame notes and quotes