Sometimes there are inexplicable losses that are just attributed to just not being the night. Other times the other team performs when necessary and make crucial plays. Boise State did not have what it took this night as the Broncos lost to the Lobos 31-24.
In a game where Thomas Sperbeck got his 1,000 yards, the Boise State finally allow a 100 yard rusher, Tyler Rausa misses a 22 yard field goal, and the New Mexico Lobos were never behind in the first half, the Broncos certainly had their opportunities, but never could capitalize. Effective, good, drives were cut off with two turnovers in the redzone and bad drops from receivers. Brett Rypien was off with his touch and the aggressive New Mexico defensive line had great pressure. The flashbacks to New Mexico from last year were bringing fever sweats. The Broncos needed to stop the bleeding, but to no avail. The usual "bend, do not break" adage was proving itself to be a struggle for the Broncos.
New Mexico would make play after play as necessitated. A 74 yard run from Jhurrel Pressley. A 40 pass from Lamar Jordan. A 19 yard touchdown run from Jordan. The Lobos had dialed up what they wanted and were executing well. The Lobo success took the crowd out of the game when the team could have used the energy.
Sperbeck was a bright spot in the first half for the Broncos with seven receptions on nine targets, amassing 141 yards with a long of 42. He helped the Broncos get seven first downs and was a consistent presence for Rypien.
The Lobos had struck first with a controversial 74 yard run from Pressley. The call refs call notwithstanding, the tackling effort on the run was, being polite, "not good." Pressley escaped what felt as though every defender had a hand on him, putting them ahead 7-0. This play stunned the crow, and the team, and put the momentum squarely in New Mexico's hands.
Shane Williams-Rhodes had an ok first half with five targets, four catches, and 36 yards. Unfortunately he had a bad drop in the end zone on the first drive that, most likely, would have been a touchdown. On SWR's longest reception (22 yards) the New Mexico defender saved another potential touchdown with an ugly facemask. Despite the efforts, this drive only generated three points for the Broncos, helping them close their deficit 3-7.
Immediately following the Boise State score, New Mexico would not let the momentum sway. Jordan would lead a five play, 75 yard drive to score off a QB option that was a text-book example on how to NOT defend the option. Whether it was coaching, or execution, the defense got desperately burned on the rush. Lobos would lead 14-3.
The only blemish for the Lobos in the first half was an interception from Austin Apodoca to Ben Weaver. The turnover, while appreciated, could spark the Broncos offense to do more than produce some extra yardage before the half. This defensive stop was the best highlight for the defense the whole half.
The second half did not start well for the Broncos. Boise State had moved the ball a total of fourteen yards. Unfortunately the Broncos suffered another receiver deflection and New Mexico came up with another interception. The Broncos' defense was able to muster more of the "bend" attitude and "only" allowed a field goal on the possession, 17-3 Lobos.
The second drive for the Broncos of the third quarter turned out to be more fortuitous. Sperbeck, the ever clutch performer, came through for Rypien with a 23 yard reception. In a big swing of momentum for the Broncos, McNichols took the next rush for 25 yards for the score, 17-10 Lobos.
Boise State's defensive efforts on the next New Mexico series started out well enough. The Broncos were able to energize the crowd and affect the New Mexico Lobo first two plays, drawing two false start flags. The Broncos were able to stop the next rush from the Lobos and forced them to be aggressive. To which the Lobos were more than happy to oblige. A forty-two yard pass from Apodoca to Teriyon Gipson answered the bell and put the Lobos in prime position to pull away from the Broncos.
But then Darian Thompson rose to the occasion and forced a fumble on Apodoca. This proved a breath of life for the Broncos, and prevented a worse hole. The Broncos used a heavy rush mixture of McNichols and Kelsey Young. At one point going with seven straight rushes. The Broncos eventually scored on the drive with a pass from Rypien to McNichols on a jailbreak screen that worked almost too well. McNichols walked in with ease to knot things up 17 all.
The Lobos were undaunted though. On the next series, with a false start penalty in tow, the Lobos queued up a beautiful playcall. Apodoca lobbed a rainbow pass to a wide open Hart-Johnson. Chanceller James did not give up on the play, forcing Hart-Johnson out of bounds at the one. The ensuing play yielded a rush from New Mexico, and another score. New Mexico up 24-17.
In an attempt to move the ball and get the Broncos even again, another deflected pass ended up in the loving arms of the Lobos. Ending a series that never really got started. It was interception number three for Rypien and a frustrating result for the Broncos and the fans. The result after the series? A New Mexico touchdown, 31-17 Lobos.
After back and forth series of "no results" the Broncos did cash in on a final New Mexico mistake and score. Jake Roh caught a 28 yard pass from Rypien to pull the Broncos within 31-24.
After a Boise State stop, the Broncos had 77 seconds to move 90 yards to knot up the game. After a great pass reception from Richardson for a first down, the Broncos offense repeated the same story that was read the entire night: overthrown passes, and drops. Though the Lobos certainly did try to give Boise State a chance with a pass interference penalty, and an unsportsmanlike, the Broncos could not take advantage.
The last Boise State play ended with a whimper with an attempt to lateral the ball to keep the scoring hope alive. Three laterals ended with New Mexico gaining possession. Broncos lose 31-24.
What Did We Learn:
- Tackling. Not sure why this is always an issue. Option teams thrive on forcing teams to have sound fundamentals. And the Broncos did not have them on this game. There were times the Broncos stuck the respective runner, others where only a light touch was on the rusher. That is a problem.
- Triple Option. I mean. What can you do? Get better? Don't allow a rusher to rip off 74 yard plays? I hate the triple option.
- Anything and long. New Mexico had SEVEN false start penalties. You would think that would be a good thing. But it only attributed to New Mexico's passing yard totals. The secondary got burned.
- Dropped passes. The receivers need stickum. Anyone know a guy?
- Turnovers. At least it was not eight this time.
- Passing the ball. Being behind the eight ball gives some curious playcalls. Boise State ran over 100 plays. The vast majority of those plays? Passes. Deep. The results of those passes? Either a drop, or a Rypien overthrow.