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.
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 will play its second road game in 2012 to take on the No. 24 Boise State Broncos on Thursday, Sep. 20. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. MT and will be broadcast live from Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho on ESPN and KSL Radio 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and ksl.com.
Fans should tune into the live Countdown to Kickoff pregame show at 6 p.m. MT on BYUtv and BYUtvsports.com. Also tune in to BYUtv and BYUtvsports.com for the live postgame show following conclusion of the game. Pregame radio coverage will begin at 5 p.m. MT on KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM and BYU Radio (SiriusXM channel 143).
BYU (2-1) at No. 24 Boise State (1-1)
Sep. 20, 2012 7:00 p.m. MT
This is just the third meeting of the Cougars and the Broncos. BYU trails in the series 0-2. The Cougars dropped a 50-12 contest in Provo in 2003 and lost a heartbreaker on a missed field goal in Boise, falling 28-27 to the Broncos in 2004.
MOUNTAIN WEST NO MORE
Boise State is currently in the hunt for its first, and probably last Mountain West championship with plans to leave for the Big East in 2013. BYU spent 12 seasons in the MW, amassing a 64-26 record in the league, winning outright titles three times and tying for another. BYU finished lower than third in the conference only two times in 12 seasons.
BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman has a reception streak of 22 games and counting, tied for the 18th longest streak in the nation. Hoffman has caught a pass in 28 of 29 career games to date. BYU's all-time leading receiver Austin Collie's longest streak with a reception was 22 games. Boise State’s Matt Miller has a streak of 15 games with a reception.
Playing a Thursday game immediately following a Saturday game, BYU is 3-1 under Mendenhall in the Thursday game. It’s the first time since 2008 that the Cougars have played a Saturday-Thursday back-to-back affair. BYU did it twice in 2006 and then once in 2007 and 2008. Boise State has not played a Saturday-Thursday combo since 2005.
Since Bronco Mendenhall has taken over the defensive coordinating duties again (23 games dating back to 2010), BYU has allowed an average of 91.5 rushing yards per game. That mark is bested by only one other team, Alabama.
WATCH OUT HERE I COME
BYU and Boise State have at least one player on these award watch lists: Biletnikoff (WR, BYU-Hoffman/Boise State-Miller), Lombardi (Line or LB, BYU-Hansen, Van Noy/Boise State-Kellogg) and Outland (Lineman, BYU-Hansen/Boise State-Kellogg). BYU has players on the following lists: Butkus (LB-Kaveinga) Davey O’Brien (QB-Nelson), Maxwell (Best Player-Nelson), Nagurski (Best Defensive Player-Van Noy), Doak Walker (RB-Alisa) and Ray Guy (P-Stephenson)