Monday, November 18, 2013.
Redemption came swiftly for Matt Miller Saturday night in Boise State’s 48-7 win over Wyoming. It was late in the first quarter, and the score was still knotted 7-7. On a third-and-six, Grant Hedrick hit Miller with what could have been a 25-yard touchdown, but the junior wide receiver couldn’t hold on. Fans hadn’t even had a chance to finish exhaling their collective sigh when Miller made a tough catch on the next play for a first down. And one play after that, Hedrick connected with Miller for an 11-yard TD to give the Broncos a lead they would not relinquish. There were catches of 48 and 51 yards to come on a night that saw Miller’s seven receptions cover 143 yards and three touchdowns, both career highs. The 48-yarder was a TD that Miller took in off a tip drill, one of the highlights of the year.
What really made Boise State tick in this one, though, was defense. To hold a Wyoming team that had been averaging 492 yards a game to season-lows of 265 yards, 55 rushing yards, and seven points was saying something for a young and injury-plagued defense that has been barbequed at times this season. The Broncos came out with energy and maintained it for four quarters, forcing four turnovers and pressuring Cowboy quarterback Brett Smith all night. Demarcus Lawrence, as is so often the case, was at the forefront. The star defensive end forced a key fumble that was recovered by Armand Nance and made two more sacks. Lawrence now has 10.5 sacks in 2013, moving into the single-season top five in the Boise State record book.
The victory over Wyoming clinches a 16th straight winning season for Boise State. It’s the Broncos’ 40th winning season in 46 years as a four-year school. Yes, they’ll play 14 games this year if they make the Mountain West championship game, but if the Broncos lose the next two weeks, there'll be no title tilt for them—hence the worst they could do would be 7-6. There have been only five losing seasons at Boise State since 1968, and one year with a .500 finish. Now, can the Broncos reach that 10-win plateau for the eighth straight season and 21st overall in school history? With a win at San Diego State this Saturday, it remains possible.
It looks like there’ll be a new “Bacon” on the Boise State roster next year. Unlike departed defensive tackle Mike Atkinson, this one really is named Bacon. It’s Troy Bacon, a 6-4, 280-pound offensive guard from Oak Hills, CA. Bacon made his official visit to Boise State over the weekend and attended the Wyoming game Saturday night, and that did it. “This is where I want to be,” he told Scout.com, which reported his commitment. Bronco Stadium had to look good to Bacon once late-arriving fans dutifully took their seats. The bigger-than-expected crowd of 33,992 started to drain once Boise State took a 28-7 lead in the second quarter. Then when the second half started at, oh, 10:30 and 35 degrees, the faithful had seriously diminished. Bacon, by the way, brings the Broncos’ ebbing-and-flowing 2014 recruiting class to 11.
Elsewhere in the Mountain West, San Diego State had to rally at winless Hawaii, but those Aztecs do know how to finish. They took their only lead of the game on an Adam Muema run in overtime to beat the Warriors 28-21. SDSU has won six of its last seven games after an 0-3 start as it prepares to welcome Boise State to Qualcomm Stadium this Saturday. And how about Colorado State running back Kapri Bibbs? He rushed for 291 yards and six touchdowns in the Rams’ 66-42 win at New Mexico. In the past two weeks, Bibbs has racked up 603 yards and 10 TDs (he has 25 scores now for the season). Amazing that the Broncos held him to 69 yards two weeks ago. Also, Nevada broke its five-game losing streak by toppling San Jose State, 38-16.
NFL notables yesterday: George Iloka started again for Cincinnati and had four tackles and a pass deflection in the Bengals’ 41-20 win over Cleveland. Chris Carr also had four stops and a pass breakup for New Orleans as the Saints rallied past San Francisco, 23-30. Former Idaho star Mike Iupati was injured in that game. Daryn Colledge and Nate Potter helped protect Carson Palmer to the tune of 419 yards passing in Arizona’s 27-14 win at Jacksonville. Chase Baker, getting more time for Minnesota, recorded three tackles in the Viking’s 41-20 loss at Seattle. Jeron Johnson got some mopup time on defense for the Seahawks and had two tackles. And former Idaho standout Shiloh Keo got the start in place of the shuttled Ed Reed and made five tackles in Houston’s 28-23 loss to Oakland.
It was “name the score” night for the Boise State basketball team against Simpson Friday night. But the number was still bloated, as the Broncos won by 57 points in a 110-53 decision. Jeff Elorriaga, in his first game of the season, did unimaginable damage in the 12 minutes he played, pouring in 26 points on 9-of-10 shooting with seven three-pointers. What was the best thing about being back on the court after missing the opener? “Just great comraderie—that’s what I love about this team,” said Elorriaga on the KBOI postgame show. “We all get along so well.” It’s really starting to show.
Boise State scored 110 points with just three players in double figures, and star guard Derrick Marks wasn’t one of them. Coach Leon Rice loved it, marveling at Marks’ lack of selfishness. The junior scored nine points “when he could have had 30.” Said Rice, “I don’t want to have the leading scorer in the country. I want to have five guys who average in double figures and who on any given night can score 20.” That’s kind of how it goes for Marks. His scoring stats look inconsistent, but that doesn’t paint the true picture. The Broncos are poised to face a much stiffer challenge tomorrow night when Seattle University comes to Taco Bell Arena.
The College of Idaho won its annual November tournament, the Golden Rule Shootout, over the weekend for the first time in seven years with victories over Westminster and Walla Walla. The Coyotes have now won six in a row after two losses during a season-opening road trip to Montana. And Northwest Nazarene hung with the University of Idaho before the Vandals pulled away in the second half Saturday night for a 78-64 win. NNU was within five points with less than 12 minutes to play, but the Crusaders couldn’t cool off the Vandals’ Connor Hill, who had a career-high 22 points.
The Idaho Steelheads earned a sweep of San Francisco over the weekend, and the first of the two games was a character-builder. The Steelheads did to the Bulls, in effect, what they had done to San Francisco in the home opener October 23. With the Bulls nursing a 3-2 lead in the final minute, Mitch Wahl scored his second goal of the night on a power play with 36 seconds left to send the game to overtime. Wahl had one of the team’s four tallies in the shootout as the Steelies won, 4-3. Saturday it was Josh Robinson’s turn to shine. The newly-returned netminder made 30 saves while his teammates were killing off San Francisco’s final seven power plays in a 3-1 victory. The Steelheads return to CenturyLink Arena Wednesday night to host the Utah Grizzlies.
Wrapping the weekend: It’ll be Bishop Kelly and Skyview for the state 4A football championship this Friday night in Bronco Stadium after Council and Salmon River play for the 1A Division II crown. Boise State’s Emma Bates became the first Bronco to win an NCAA West Region cross country title Friday, winning her fourth of five meets this season. Bates is the first Boise State female runner to make the NCAA Championships in 14 years. And Serbia couldn’t finish what it started in Boise in April, falling to the Czech Republic yesterday in the Davis Cup Finals. Novak Djokovic had tied the series 2-2 by beating Tomas Berdych in the first singles match, but the Czech Republic’s Radek Stepanek blew past Dusan Lajovic in straight sets in the final event.
This Day In Sports…November 18, 1989:
Idaho takes its eighth straight over Boise State with a 26-21 win in the Kibbie Dome. The Vandal victory offset a great night for Bronco tailback Chris Thomas, who set a school record with 268 all-purpose yards. The mark would stand for ten years before Brock Forsey would break it in the 1999 Humanitarian Bowl. Meanwhile, Idaho quarterback John Friesz finished his regular season career with a school record 10,697 passing yards—a mark that would be broken four years later by Doug Nussmeier.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)