Final: Boise State 40, Fresno State 7
Boise State shot out of the gate like a lead balloon, going 3 and out before allowing Fresno to take over and Fresno was moving with relative ease on their first drive of the game before facing a 4th and (long) 1 and deciding to roll the dice. JL Skinner doesn’t play dice. Skinner came up and sniffed out the swing pass and the Broncos were back in action with the turnover on downs.
On the ensuing series, the Bronco offense welcomed George Holani back into the fold as he opened things up with a 30 yard reception before being tripped by the turf. 1 penalty and 3 plays later the Broncos settled for a field goal after a 3rd down sack of Hank Bachmeier. Still, we’re on the board.
Boise State 3, Fresno State 0
Drive two from Fresno State ended as quickly as it began...with Kekaula Kaniho snagging a Jake Haener pass for the INT and then the Broncos again welcomed George Holani back with a long pitch and catch NEAR TD (initially ruled a TD but marked at the 1) that was finished off on the next play by Andrew Van Buren (of Van Buren Boys fame). Quick start from our boys.
Boise State 10, Fresno State 0
Fresno’s next drive started slowly with a Jackson Cravens sack of Jake Haener on first down but a 3rd and long completion kept things moving...fortunately for the Broncos, a second 3rd and long attempt was unsuccessful and the Bulldogs kept their goose egg through their 3rd drive of the day. On the next Bronco series there was a Taylen Green sighting...or moreover a Taylen Green series. Green started things well with a nice 1st down run on a keeper, but it was diminishing returns after that, culminating in a sack on 3rd and long. Fresno ball once again.
After a looooong Fresno State gain was wiped out by a block-in-the back penalty, the Broncos tightened up and sacked Mr. Haener on 3rd and medium (Riley Whimpey)...go figure—Dogs still scoreless.
Another long completion to Octavius Evans put the Broncos at the Bulldog doorstep, but the Fresno defense stiffened, leading the Broncos to another Jonah Dalmas field goal. Broncos putting distance betwixt themselves and ‘dogs...but slowly.
Boise State 13, Fresno State 0
But they are getting OPPORTUNITIES...Broncos again hold defensively and after a near punt block by Tyreque Jones, the good guys are back in business on the offensive side.
This one...didn’t go so well. Broncos go for it on 4th and 1 and get stonewalled by the Bulldog defense. Is this the momentum shift Fresno has been waiting for?
Yeah...it was. Fresno marched right down the field and finally get on the board with a Haener to Wheatfall TD.
Boise State 13, Fresno State 7
Broncos flew too close to the sun on their next drive after getting close to the red zone, they let Khalil Shakir toss what looked like would be a TD pass to Tyneil Hopper, but it was picked on the one yard line and returned 100 yards for a score...but WAIT...a block in the back on the return erased the TD and the Broncos live to fight another day...and they do—fighting down the field again into the red zone before stalling out (great 3rd down play by Fresno State safety) and once again Jonah Dalmas drills it through.
Boise State 16, Fresno State 7
After looking like they left waaaay too much time on the clock for the dangerous Jake Haener, a 2nd down (actual) sack and a 3rd down (coverage) sack left just :05 on the clock for the Bulldogs to try to pull off a Hail Mary. You won’t believe this...another sack. We’re at the half and the Broncos are hanging on (but I’m sure wish they’d cashed in a few more of those redzone trips). Broncos have 4 sacks at the half.
Halftime — Boise State 16, Fresno State 7
Fresno started the second half with the football and got a few first downs behind some quick routes from the Fresno receivers before failing to convert on a 3rd and 6 from midfield. Fresno punt. Bronco ball.
Auspicious. Broncos faced 3rd and medium after two meh runs from Holani before Bachmeier hit a streaking (not that kind) Khalil Shakir for a 29 yard gain (a play where KS was ironically brought down by former Bronco Tyson Maeva). After that big play...a lot of short matriculation to get the Broncos into field goal range...Jonah Dalmas range. Dalmas made the 44-yarder but was ROUGHED and the Broncos got a fresh set of downs in the Fresno red zone. Good thing too...on 3rd and 6, Hank finds Khalil Shakir in the end zone and beware the 3rd quarter no more!
Boise State 23, Fresno State 7
Great drive by Fresno had them knocking on the door on the ensuing drive, but JL Skinner said “Fres-NO” and picked off Haener in the end zone. The Broncos have the ball again as the 3rd quarter starts to wind down (just under 6 minutes as of this typing), but a 3 and out limits the damage from the pick but does make Fresno start from scratch on a long(er) drive. No dice...I’m not going to start a new paragraph if neither offense can do anything (thanks to the facemasking penalty for ending the Fresno drive).
Matriculation. The Broncos leaned on the ground game on their ensuing drive and finish the quarter marching into Bulldog territory. Stay tuned.
Paydirt. Well, sort of...but did you expect more than field goals from this team? Dalmas from 28 out.
Boise State 26, Fresno State 7
Fresno on the move on their next possession after the Bronco score and they convert a 3rd and long to get into Bronco territory, but Kaonohi Kaniho gets in on the family business and picks of a Haener pass! Broncos have the ball back and will now start to wiiiind that clock.
And the Broncos decided to just slam the door closed. After a Habibi-Likio run almost got them in the endzone (down at the one), Andrew Van Buren punches it in to extend the Bronco lead. We’re in blowout territory somehow.
Boise State 33, Fresno State 7
Fresno in desperation mode on what COULD be their final drive of the evening, but Haener’s long ball falls harmlessly to the turf before Divine Obichere ends it for good with a sack on 4th and 6.
Sure, what the hell...how about a needless late TD by Tyler Crowe to throw some extra egg on Bulldog faces?
Boise State 40, Fresno State 7
Okay...can this thing end. Fresno gets on the board...again in garbage time with the Bronco second teamers in.
Boise State 40, Fresno State 14
Final stats (and thoughts)
How ‘bout them Broncos? If you would have told me the Broncos would “settle” for a handful of field goals inside the red zone and still beat Fresno by 26, I doubt I’d have believed you. They picked off Jake Haener 3 times, got their run game going, shut down Jalen Cropper, logged 5 sacks and pretty much blistered the Bulldogs from bell to bell...and like I alluded to with all those field goals—this could have been MUCH worse. Holding this potent Fresno State team to a single (actual) TD in front of a sellout crowd at home was really something. This team continues to impress...and confuse.
Here are some eye-catching stat lines. George Holani made his triumphant return and ran for 117 yards (and had 69 yards receiving—nice). Furthermore, Holani LED the team in receiving yards...what? Bachmeier outgunned arguably the MWC’s best QB behind 291 passing yards and a TD. Here are your final stats.