Monday, September 18, 2017.
Chesson Hadley picked a good time to fire a six-under 65 at Hillcrest Country Club. The 30-year-old Georgia Tech product had been lurking all through the Albertsons Boise Open, and his sizzling Sunday round was good enough to leapfrog his way from five shots down to a championship. Hadley birdied three of the final four holes yesterday, and that was the difference in a one-stroke victory over Ted Potter Jr. and Jonathan Randolph. Hadley came to Boise in the No. 9 spot in the Web.com Tour’s “25”, so he was already guaranteed a PGA Tour card. But this helps his priority ranking for the 2017-18 season immensely. Hadley’s anxious to get back—he was the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2014.
It was a steady-as-she-goes performance for former Meridian resident Troy Merritt. The former Boise State star followed his one-under 70 on Thursday with rounds of 67, 67 and 68 to finish in a tie for ninth. Merritt’s shot at retaining his PGA Tour card was precarious coming into the Albertsons Boise Open, but his quest has been rejuvenated now with two events remaining in the Web.com Tour Finals. With yesterday’s top 10 result and $22,375 paycheck, Merritt is now 38th in earnings in the Finals among those who have already not secured their tour cards. He needs to be 25th or higher. Another top 10 finish would do it.
Who’s the next man up in the Boise State running game? Three weeks in, the Broncos are still trying to find him. He’s always materialized in the past. Boise State running backs coach Lee Marks certainly knows how the drill goes. Jeremy McNichols was there in 2015 when Jay Ajayi was gone. Ajayi was there in 2013 when D.J. Harper was gone. Harper was there in 2012 when Doug Martin was gone. Martin and Jeremy Avery were there in 2009 when Ian Johnson was gone. And Johnson was there in 2006 when—you know it—Marks was gone. That guy has not emerged in 2017. It was supposed to be Alexander Mattison, but he has been stymied. Ryan Wolpin was supposed to be a complement to Mattison, and he has been a little bit. But that home run back is not there yet for the Broncos.
Boise State’s leading rusher the past two games—and for the season—is a quarterback, Montell Cozart, with 179 yards and two touchdowns. Mattison has netted 155 and two TDs, but outside of his 49-yard scoring run against Troy, he has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. Wolpin’s 115 yards have produced only 3.1 yards per tote. It turns out Robert Mahone’s status is the same as it was coming out of spring football—he has carried the ball just three times this season. Drake Beasley, the highly-touted true freshman, has not played yet. Is it time to give Beasley a look? Or, with the offensive line’s struggles, are the Broncos just going to have to make the backfield work as is?
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It was two years today that Boise State quarterback Ryan Finley was injured in a Week 3 shutout of Idaho State, causing the Broncos to burn the redshirt year of Brett Rypien. And it was the following week that Rypien got his first start in a 56-14 road victory at Virginia, the team that visits the blue turf this Friday night. True freshman Chase Cord has been one play away from burning his redshirt year since the final minute of the first quarter at Washington State, when Rypien went down with his injury and gave way to Cozart. Boise State certainly hopes history doesn’t repeat itself in Cord’s case (the staff ants to redshirt him). Rypien, as you might recall, threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions against the Cavaliers.
You can’t argue the fact that San Diego State is the face of Mountain West football right now. Rashaad Penny did it again for the Aztecs offense, rushing for 175 yards and a touchdown, and the SDSU defense was nails in a 20-17 upset of No. 19 Stanford. The result for San Diego State was national rankings—No. 22 in the new AP Poll and No. 25 on the Coaches list. At the other end of the spectrum was Nevada, who stumbled into a 30-28 loss to Idaho State at Mackay Stadium. It wasn’t just a loss to an FCS program, it came against one that had lost 27 straight games to FBS opponents dating back to 2000 and was 26-98 overall the past 11 seasons. On the other hand, what a monstrous win for the Bengals and new coach Rob Phenicie.
Point spreads can move during the week of a game, but usually by no more than a few points. Western Michigan started last week as a 14-point favorite over Idaho, but by Saturday the number had jumped all the way to 20½. The Vandals didn’t get the memo, and they led the Kalamazoo Broncos 28-19 going into the fourth quarter. It was a gritty road effort that saw Matt Linehan throw for three touchdowns at that point. But the offensive spigot shut off in the final 15 minutes, when Linehan threw his only interception of the game and Idaho was held to minus-four yards. WMU desperately wanted this win in its first home game of the post-P.J. Fleck era—and got it 37-28.
College of Idaho has had all sorts of problems with third down conversions the past two games. A week after going 0-for-11 on third down against Southern Oregon, the Coyotes were 1-for-11 versus Eastern Oregon Saturday at Simplot Stadium. But the Yotes took care of business mightily on first and second down, and they finished the day with 440 yards of total offense while upsetting the 11th-ranked Mountaineers 28-20 for their first win of the season. C of I’s defense came up big, too, forcing four turnovers and holding Eastern’s vaunted rushing attack to 27 yards in the second half.
Every week you hear sports teams say, “We feel like we can play with anybody.” Well, the Boise State women’s volleyball team proved it can Friday night, falling to No. 1 Minnesota in a five-set marathon thriller before an overflow crowd at Bronco Gym. The Broncos lost by three points in the final set to the Gophers, who improved to 9-0. It was Oregon State who felt it could play with anybody Saturday, upending Boise State in straight sets. The Broncos wrapped up the Boise State Classic with a straight-sets victory over Idaho State Saturday night.
This Day In Sports…September 18, 2009:
Boise State clears one of its biggest hurdles on the way to an undefeated season with a wild 51-34 win at Fresno State. The Broncos had three scoring plays of 60-plus yards, including one that saw Titus Young recover a fumble in the end zone after Jeremy Avery had run for 74 yards. Bulldog tailback Ryan Mathews had three touchdown jaunts of 60-plus yards himself and rushed for 234 yards. Avery ran for 186 yards on only 11 attempts for a school-record 16.9 yards per carry.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)
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