The first game of who knows how many. The first game of a season that many athletes, coaches fans, media outlets, and administrators figured wouldn’t happen at all. The first game in an environment that most folks wish were better. While a frustrating situation overall, hopefully the lure of football will help assuage many of the negatives happening almost everywhere.
The Broncos started the game with a 74-player limit for the roster (this is per MWC restrictions). That meant some players, considered crucial backups, weren’t dressed. Including Aisa Kelemete, Marques Evans, Billy Bowens, Danny Smith, and Cole Wright (among others). The players not dressed included the limit but also injury. The upside to this is no players were out with COVID-19 implications.
The first series for the Broncos was a bit of a dude. Three and out. Couple that with an ehhhhh kick by Velazquez, the Broncos didn’t start off the season with much to show for it. Luckily the Aggies decided to get in on the “don’t do much” train as well and had to punt their first possession too.
The second possession for the Broncos was a clinic in getting George Holani the ball. Oh. And throwing to John Bates. Before the first quarter ended Bates already had 30 yards in receiving. They used that second possession (and subsequent involvement of Bates) to 79 yards in nine plays for a Holani TD, putting the Broncos up 7-0 after the PAT.
The first half showed a bit of a gulf for the Aggies as they struggled mightily in the QB department with the departure of Love to the NFL. The Aggies’ Jason Shelley was 4-9 for 24 yards while leading Utah State. The Aggies only mustered one first down the entire half.
Meanwhile the Broncos had their moments (Bachmeier’s sweet 52-yard TD pass to Khalil Shakir to put them up 14-0). And they had their... disappointments (Bachmeier getting sacked straight downs).
All in all the Broncos had four TD drives while the Aggies got to punt six times in a row.
The Broncos were able to cap the first half off with a two minute-drill TD from Bachmeier to Holani to take a 28-0 lead into halftime.
To open the second half both teams punted to each other. But when the Broncos punted (an absolute gem by Joel Velazquez by the way) the ball appeared to hit the hand of the Aggie returner and recovered by Kaniho in the endzone. What should have been a Bronco special teams TD turned into momentum for the Aggies and their first score of the night.
On the ensuing Bronco possession the Broncos had to punt the ball away (I use the word ‘had’ here lightly as they were in Aggie territory) and Velazquez kicks a punt for NEGATIVE 38 YARDS. That Aggie drive ended, as you would have guessed, in a touchdown. No PAT though so that’s cool.
The Broncos were not finished (which is awesome) as they marched down the field and answered with their own touchdown to take the lead, 35-13.
While there were some bumps for the Broncos (opening up the game with a three-and-out) and rough patches (-38 yard punt LOLOL). The Broncos did put the Aggies away handily. Khalil Shakir shows why he’s such a dynamic player. And George Holani is going to be playing in the next level.
There may not be too many more games for this season. But lets keep the positive thoughts up and the Broncos can make it through the season intact.