Monday, September 30, 2013.
Boise State’s offense sputtered at the start and rumbled through the other 3½ quarters of a 60-7 rout of Southern Miss Saturday night in Bronco Stadium. What do we take from a third straight 500-yard game by the offense? The attack that seemed so tentative at Washington a month ago is no more. Quarterback Joe Southwick has assimilated nicely into the quick decision-making required by the new hurry-up approach. Southwick, who two weeks ago broke the Boise State record for completion percentage in a game, was 19-of-23 for 268 yards and three touchdowns against the Golden Eagles. The 82.6 percent accuracy puts him in the Bronco record book again at No. 10. And with Grant Hedrick and Nick Patti combining to go 4-of-4, Boise State completed 85.2 percent as a team, the fifth-best mark in school history.
It was bombs away to Geraldo Boldewijn Saturday night. The long-armed Dutchman, looking to make an impact for Boise State as a senior, certainly did that against Southern Miss. Boldewijn looks like he has hit his stride, recording his second straight 100-yard game on only three receptions, one of them a leaping 52-yard beauty that he caught wedged against his helmet a la the Giants’ David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII. Five games into his senior year he has career highs in catches (20) and yards (323). Boldewijn finally got his first touchdown of the season Saturday, juking a Golden Eagle defender out of his hip pads on a 42-yard catch-and run.
If there was an award for Mountain West Beast of the Week, it would go to Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence. The junior defensive end at least has to be a top candidate for the special teams award today after blocking two Southern Miss field goals Saturday night. Defensively, it was another night at the office for Lawrence. Two plays before his first block, he sacked Golden Eagle quarterback Allen Bridgford and forced a fumble that was mercifully recovered by a USM teammate. The play before his second block, Lawrence sniffed out a swing pass to Southern Miss running back Jalen Richard and, after trying to bat the pass down, ran down Richard and stopped him for no gain.
Boise State’s special teams were outstanding against Southern Miss, from the four punt returns for 116 yards to some thunderous tackles on kickoff coverage. That is, when the Golden Eagles were able to bring it out. Dan Goodale kicked off 11 times in the contest, and six went for touchbacks. Goodale also kicked field goals of 33 and 26 yards. The significance of that? Those were the Timberline High grad’s first two field goal attempts on the blue turf since that fateful day against TCU in November, 2011. The downside was two points-after-touchdown that weren’t converted. One was a miss, and the other was partially blocked.
The Boise State defense, slightly punctured in the first half by Southern Miss, came out after halftime with a new resolve. Certainly there were some discussions with the coaching staff deep inside the locker room, and the Broncos held the Golden Eagles to just 50 yards, three first downs, and zero points. The stickler was the nightmarish Southern Miss drive midway through the second quarter when the Broncos were penalized three times for 40 yards—for pass interference, grabbing the facemask, and offside. Ironically, it was at the end of that drive that the game turned for good, as Lawrence got his second block of the night and Donte Deayon returned the loose ball 40 yards to the USM 27. The Broncos took it in four plays later for a 24-7 lead.
The most interesting game in the Mountain West Saturday was the one that ended after bedtime, with Fresno State holding on to beat Hawaii 42-37. The Bulldogs moved up to No. 21 in the Coaches Poll and No. 23 in the AP Poll, but there will be doubters after the downtrodden Warriors rallied from a 42-3 deficit to fall by five points. Fresno State’s three wins over FBS schools have been by a combined seven points. Other Mountain West highlights: Nevada had to rally from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to down Air Force, 45-42, Utah State blasted San Jose State 40-12 (more on the ESPN aspect of that game tomorrow), and UNLV broke a 23-game road losing streak with a wild 56-42 victory at New Mexico.
There was role reversal on offense in the Kibbie Dome Saturday, and it launched Idaho to its first win of the Paul Petrino era, 26-24 over Temple. Vandal quarterback Chad Chalich did have an outstanding day through the air, throwing for 310 yards and a touchdown. But he doubled as a running back extraordinaire, becoming the first Idaho QB to top 100 yards since Doug Nussmeier against Boise State 20 years ago. Chalich’s 114-yard effort included a 52-yard dash at the end of the third quarter that set up a field goal. Then there was running back Richard Montgomery, who morphed into a wide receiver. Montgomery had five catches for 102 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown that opened the Vandals’ scoring. It was Idaho’s first victory since a defeat of New Mexico State last October.
Former Boise State standout George Iloka, with three of his colleagues in the Cincinnati secondary out due to injury, was left to hold down the fort at strong safety yesterday. Iloka was second on the team with six tackles and a pass deflection, but the Bengals fell at Cleveland, 17-6. Boise State product Billy Winn had to enjoy it in street clothes—the Browns defensive tackle was out with a quadiceps injury. Also of note in the NFL, the change at quarterback in Tampa Bay didn’t help Doug Martin much. The Arizona defense was all over Martin, holding him to just 45 yards on 27 carries (1.7 yards per attempt) while the Cardinals rallied past the Buccaneers, 13-10. And Shea McClellin recovered a fumble for Chicago on an otherwise quiet day in the Bears’ 40-32 loss to Detroit.
Troy Merritt played probably the best round of pressure golf of his life Friday. In very real danger of missing the cut at the Web.com Tour Championship, Merritt carded the top score of the second round, a six-under 64 to catapult from a tie for 100th to a tie for 15th at Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. From there, the former Boise State star slipped to a 70 Saturday and a 74 yesterday, but his finish—a tie for 46th—was enough to earn him a PGA Tour card for the 2013-14 season that starts next month. Merritt played on the PGA Tour in 2010, making $787,000.
I didn’t get to see the Boise State basketball scrimmage before Saturday night’s Southern Miss game, but everybody who exited Bronco Gym was talking about James Webb’s monster dunk on a fast break. Webb is one of the Bronco newcomers this season, a 6-8 forward from Augusta, GA, by way of North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene. At 185 pounds he’s a bit slender, but Webb could help fill the void left by the departure of Kenny Buckner.
Justin Holiday, the Idaho Stampede’s leading scorer last season, could end up back on the Stampede’s home floor in a Utah Jazz uniform in a couple weeks. Holiday has been signed to the Jazz’s training camp roster after being released by the Philadelphia 76ers—he was called up by the Sixers at the end of last season. Holiday averaged 17.3 points and 5.3 points for the Stamps. The Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers play in CenturyLink Arena October 11.
This Day In Sports…September 30, 2006:
Boise State wins its 11th straight game over then-members of the Mountain West Conference by shocking Utah, 36-3, in sold-out Rice-Eccles Stadium. Star linebacker Korey Hall set up two scores with interceptions, and fellow senior Colt Brooks notched his first career touchdown on another, as the Broncos had four picks on the day and held the Utes to 178 yards. Things were just as impressive in the stands, as the Salt Lake Tribune estimated 8,000 BSU fans made the trip. And they made noise wire-to-wire.
(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.)