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Broncos defeat the Aggies and propel themselves into the Mountain West title game

NCAA Football: Utah State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Final: Boise State 33, Utah State 24

First Half

Inauspicious is a word I’d use to describe the start of this one for the Broncos. Utah State elected to receive the kickoff and marched right down the field for a quick score. How did Boise State answer? With a holding penalty, a ball that hit a tight end right in the hands, and, of course, a punt. Thankfully, the Aggies didn’t go much of anywhere on their ensuing drive...and I say thankfully because neither did we. The Aggies looked to be in business on their 3rd offensive series, however, but Kekaula Kaniho put an end to that with a timely pick and the Broncos picked up their FIRST first down of the evening with their new offensive life, and Alexander Mattison punched it in after running the ball down to the 2 and just like that, this one was 7-7.

The Broncos defense seemed to settle in a bit and got some pressure on Jordan Love and the Aggies answering drive went nowhere (but fast). The Broncos answered with a 58-yard strike to Modster that got them knocking on the door after another Alex Mattison hurdle run, but they couldn’t convert on 3rd and 4 (from the 6) and had to settle for a Haden Hoggarth field goal. We wanted more, but Broncos on top 10-7.

As the 2nd quarter got underway, the Bronco defense continued to tighten up after their rough start, forcing the Aggies to punt...but the Aggies did not punt, they faked a punt and had TE Dax Raymond try to pick up the first down the hard way. Freshman Scale Igiehon had none of it...Bronco ball in Aggie territory. After overcoming the referees (two unsportsmanlike penalties on the Broncos on the drive) and John Bates absolving himself of his earlier drop and the Broncos seized momentum with a 2 yard Mattison TD. 17-7 Broncos.

Then they played Sweet Caroline. With all the momentum and a 10 point lead, the stadium played Sweet Caroline. The song that played before the Broncos coughed up a lead against TCU in ‘11. The song CSU played before blowing a 28-3 lead in 2017 to the Broncos. So clearly, the Aggie offense found it’s footing again and scored quickly to move the score back to a manageable 17-14, and then a block-in-the-back non-call helped them get GREAT field position on their next drive. Amateurs.

Broncos hold...but miss a field goal to end the half. Think the Sweet Caroline curse isn’t real now?

Second Half

Looks like points were going to be at a premium tonight and neither the Broncos or the Aggies were able to get any on their first drives of the second half. A Rypien bomb to AJ Richardson got the Broncos back in range on their next drive though and an oh-so-close pass to CT Thomas couldn’t quite get them in the endzone. The refs nailed the Broncos AGAIN on the next play as Sean Modster appeared to have pulled in a scrambling TD from Rypien, but refs say he went out of bounds. ILLEGAL TOUCHING. Broncos settle for another field goal—20-14 Broncos. Aggies rolling on next drive but a huge 3rd down sack by Sam Whitney (remember him?) put them in dicey field goal range and Dominik Eberle left it short. Broncos survive a solid drive by the Aggies and still led by 6.

A TERRIBLE spot on the Broncos offensive series denied them a first down...which they failed to convert on 3rd and 1. Aggies get a field goal on their possession and at the start of the 4th quarter it’s a tight one at Albertsons Stadium—20-17 Broncos.

An egregious targeting foul by Tipa Galeai on Brett Rypien put the Broncos in good field position and some nifty running by Alexander Mattison had them right on the doorstep...after being held and flirting with a 4th and 1, the Broncos got the first down and then got the score on 3rd and 2 with a Rypien to Collingham strike. They missed the extra point because why not?! 26-17 Broncos.

Aggies next drive goes backwards with 2 false start penalties and they can’t get out of the hole. Aggie punt with roughly 6 minutes to play...and it’s a bad one—15 yards, but Broncos can’t capitalize on the gifted field position and punt it right back. Aggies struggled mightily to get anything going on their drive, but a chance pitch to Gerold Bright with Jordan Love under duress at the Aggie 15 leads to an 85(ish) yard TD with 3:12 to go in the game. Anyone think this would be easy?

Broncos looking to kill clock did more than that...Alexander Mattison had a 60 yard rush and then dove it in with 4 ticks on the clock. Mattison finishes with 200 yards and definitely picked the biggest game of the year to do it. Suffice it to say, 4 seconds isn’t enough for anyone (save maybe The Flash) to overcome a 9 point deficit. Broncos win and they’re back in the ‘ship, baby!

Final thoughts/stats

Brett Rypien had another solid game in what is now only his PENultimate game on The Blue, finishing 23-32 for 310 yards and a TD. Alexander Mattison put on the cape and absolutely carried the Broncos down the stretch (along with several Aggie defenders). Suddenly, the guy that we thought might not get to 1,000 yards on the season has over 1,200. Impressive heart from all the Broncos as they faced another top-shelf opponent in a do-or-die game and did so short-handed—and WON.

Final stats below.