Once again, we are privileged to feature the written-word stylings of Drew from Fight Fight BSU. A Boise State diehard and an occasional mascot interviewer, Drew has the honor of introducing the final nominee in the inaugural OBNUG Hall of Fame class: Ian Johnson's five-TD game against Oregon State.
We were sitting in the stands at Bronco Stadium on the night of September 7, 2006, and some rowdy Oregon State fans nearby were reveling in the Beavers’ fast start. Oregon State’s Sammie Stroughter had just returned a Boise State punt for a touchdown to put the Beavers up 14-0 in the first quarter, and a cocky OSU fan stood up and announced, "All day, baby. All day." The mood in Bronco Stadium echoed the lackluster play of the Broncos to that point.
Then something happened. My wife and I weren’t really even paying close attention as the Broncos hadn’t given us much to cheer about as of yet, but a loud cheer was starting to emanate from the crowd. I looked up to see the sophomore running back that everyone had been high on in spring ball slashing past two Beaver linebackers and outsprinting Oregon State’s secondary for a 60-yard touchdown. The crowd was on their feet and life seemed to be coming back to the sluggish-looking Broncos.
"Who was that?" my wife asked.
"Ian Johnson," I replied. "He’s supposed to be a good one."
Not even I knew how good Johnson would be on that September night...or how good he would be that whole year. Nobody knew, at that moment in the first quarter when the Broncos made it a one touchdown game, that Ian Johnson was going to be something special, perhaps even the greatest Bronco running back of all time. But by the end of regulation, we knew.Johnson came into his own that night, patiently following blocks, keeping his feet churning for extra yardage, showing explosive acceleration and determination. He was the feature back that everyone had been waiting for, and he didn’t just upstage the Beavers that night--he embarrassed them on national television.
Johnson rushed for 240 yards on 22 carries and scored five touchdowns against the Pac-10’s Oregon State. 240 yards on 22 carries?! Yeah, that is almost 11 yards per carry--11 yards per carry against an Oregon State team that defeated USC that same season.
None of Ian’s touchdowns more exemplified just how good he was that night than his third TD. Ian got the ball at about the four or five yard line and was hit at about the two. He was pushed back about a yard before surging forward again as Oregon State defenders piled on, trying in vain to stop him as he eventually carried the whole stack of ‘em into the endzone.
Around the time Ian scored his fifth TD, putting Boise State up 42-14, the Oregon State fans sitting nearby started to quietly head for the exits. I don’t know what came over me, but I stood up and shouted after them "All day, baby. All day."
Ian has had some impressive and heroic games since that night. Certainly he is en route to be the greatest Bronco running back ever, but on September 7, 2006, Ian was simply amazing.
Voting for Ian Johnson's Oregon State romp will take place through next week. Use the poll in the sidebar to cast your vote.