Boise, Idaho — The Boise State Broncos and the Wyoming Cowboys came into today’s matchup undefeated in conference play. Arguably, this game was one of the most important for the Cowboys, especially considering the 3-0 conference stretch is the best they have ever done in the Mountain West Conference. Both wanting to wrest control of the Mountain Division, and the right to face (probable) West Division champion San Diego State in the MWC title game.
For the first time this year, turnovers really cost the Broncos. Though the Broncos rolled early, and led for the vast majority of the game, the lost opportunities just added up. When the game was tied, the Broncos failed to get going on their final possession and ended up with a safety as the Wyoming Cowboys won 30-28.
The Broncos have received every kickoff this season, and todays game would be no different. The first series had been going along swimmingly. The Broncos were moving the ball effectively against the Cowboy’s defense. McNichols gaining yards somewhat easily between the tackles. Brett Rypien had been making good, catchable passes to his receivers.
But then the first Boise State turnover happened—a McNichols fumble. The Broncos had been in a rhythm and, well, the Broncos’ own worst enemy is themselves. And THAT would be their undoing more than the other team’s execution.
The Boise State defense showed why they have been able to keep the team in games all season despite the sudden change events. While the Cowboys managed two first downs, they were unable to—fully—capitalize on the Bronco misstep. After three straight incompletions, The Cowboys only managed to the Boise State 46 before having to punt it away.
Starting from their own seven, on the second drive, the Broncos turned in a quick three-and-out after an aggressive shot down field to Chaz Anderson falls harmlessly incomplete on first down. Alexander Mattison actually had the “start” in place of McNichols after the quick turnover.
On the Cowboys’ next possession, they had been able to move the football. Brian Hill, while utilized, only picked up a handful. But he shows why he is so critical to the Wyoming offense. The guy is a big fellow. After a couple of first downs, Josh Allen had decided to return the turnover favor by throwing the ball to which it led to a Chanceller James pick!
On the possession after the the first turnover in forever, the Broncos were able to move the ball. The coaching staff put McNichols back in after sitting the second series. He picks up several first downs by himself. Sean Modster his yardage appearance of the game with a great nine-yard pick up . Chase Blakeley getting a nice reception. McNichols walks in the touchdown.
This is the drive that the Brian Hill Show has officially begun. He was able to get a bit of a head of steam, and rhythm, that helped him get his longest run, so far, of the night of 27 yards. The Cowboys had been able to drive down the field and even got so far as the Broncos’ two-yard line. Though the Broncos’ bend-don’t-break defense was able to stymie the Wyoming offense by stacking the box. Though Brian Hill was given the ball, on fourth down, he was stopped just short of the goal line. A turnover on downs for the Cowboys.
McNichols is good at football. This is a phrase that is used quite often when speaking about his abilities. He also reinforces that statement when he shows his exemplary balance and scampers for a 40 yard pick up. What began as a drive that started on the Broncos’ one yard line, Boise State was able to cover 99 yards in five plays for a walk-in touchdown for McNichols.
Not to be outdone, Wyoming decided to respond to the Broncos’ momentum. In a six-yard drive, that took all of 2:41 to find the endzone. Interestingly enough, it was not a Brian Hill march in for the score, but a Josh Allen to Jacob Hollister touchdown.
But the Broncos are not done with playing football. With an equal parts mixture of McNichols rushing, and Sperbeck/Wilson receiving, Boise State was able to get Alexander Mattison his first rushing touchdown of the game, from a 16 yard run up the gut.
This series got kind of weird in that Wyoming tried the Statue of Liberty. It was not very effective. Wyoming was still able to get down field, but just not to the end zone. They still came away with three points.
With 1:48 left in the half, the Broncos tried to remain aggressive. On the first play of this series, a long-shot came from the Broncos. However a Thomas Sperbeck trip up causes another interception for Rypien.
This led to a touchdown for the Cowboys. Josh Allen to Jacob Hollister.
The Boise State coaching staff wanted to stay aggressive and wrench back the momentum from Wyoming. The offense called six straight passing plays. Chaz Anderson had a 12 yard reception. Modster for 18. Wilson for 11. Sperbeck for 13. Chaz Anderson actually caught a beautiful pass from Rypien in the end zone but, unfortunately, had a foot out of bounds after the catch.
Had there not been any time restriction, the Broncos could have punched in another touchdown. As it was, Wyoming was able to sack Rypien on the final two plays of the half. The Broncos suffered from another negative turnover margin in the first half
For the half, Brett Rypien was 15-22, 222 yards and an INT.
McNichols had 121 yards on 11 rushes and two TDs.
Cedrick Wilson had 68 yards on three catches.
Josh Allen was 10-14, 153 yards and two touchdown passes.
Brian Hill had 101 yards.
A pair of dud offensive series’ started the half, Wyoming could not immediately recreate the momentum that carried them out of the second quarters. The Cowboys managed 15 yards on five plays before having to punt the ball to Boise State. The Broncos could then stalled after Thomas Sperbeck could not bring down a third down pass from Rypien.
A Wyoming three-and-out. Moxey played the receiver pretty aggressively, but the refs have been willing to let the players play. While it was frustrating on the Sperbeck trip up, worked in Boise State’s favor on that pass-break-up.
The second series for Boise State did not start too well. Backed up on their own one, Coach Bryan Harsin played very aggressive with the calls. A big pass to Sperbeck sails. To get them some breathing room, a check down to McNichols (on third down) created some momentum. Alexander Mattison took over for McNichols on a couple of rushing plays and brought some first downs. However some errant passes from Rypien to Sperbeck stalled the drive on the Wyoming 48. Sean Wale had to punt.
The Bronco defense continued to be stout. While Josh Allen is quite the athlete and use his legs to keep the Broncos guessing. He has was able to get the Cowboys out of trouble with a third-and-long run to get a first down in a crucial part of the game. Though they made it to Boise State 23, they had to settle for three.
The Broncos took this offensive series to heart. Wilson and Anderson made some crucial plays to get first downs. McNichols supported the drive with some solid runs. The best play came from a trick play that started in the hands of McNichols, a flip to Sperbeck and a Sperbeck to Rypien touchdown. It did not quite feel like Rypien was going to be able to score running, but he was able to do it.
The momentum really started to come to a head for the Cowboys and they could just not drop any catches and they did all the right things. Josh Allen made all the crucial throws. And made a great throw to the back of the end zone to get the touchdown AND the two-point conversion.
28-28 Tie game
This is where the fun stuff happened. Rypien went back to pass aaaaand strip sack. The ball went out the back of the end zone. Safety. Call confirmed.
The ironic thing is that through the whole season, the turnover battle never really cost the Broncos until they came into a game that, by all accounts, the Broncos should have won.
But they did not.
The Broncos fall to a team that was double-digit underdogs. A hard, bitter pill to swallow. But it happens. The Broncos now have to regroup and salvage the rest of the season.
Brett Rypien: 22-35, 295 yards and an interception.
Jeremy McNichols: 143 yards, two touchdowns.
Sperbeck: 80 yards on eight catchs, one touchdown pass.