BOISE, Idaho — After a lackluster start in Laramie, Boise State found a way to gain momentum and reach the end zone in the second half to defeat Wyoming 20-17. Standout safety JL Skinner saved the day with back-to-back interceptions late in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
Saturday's win gives Boise State the Mountain Division title and the rights to host the Mountain West Championship Game on The Blue Dec. 3.
The Broncos were without six of their 11 original starters on defense Saturday, and it showed early on.
Boise State entered the Mountain West contest ranked No. 14 in the FBS in rushing defense, allowing just 107 yards on the ground per game. In the first quarter alone, Titus Swen and the Cowboys muscled for 104 rushing yards.
With a wind chill in the single digits and Jayden Clemons making his first career start at quarterback, it appeared Wyoming was going to have its way in the trenches, with the likes of Jackson Cravens, Ezekiel Noa and Demitri Washington sidelined.
On offense, Boise State had no issue moving the ball in Memorial Stadium in the first half, but struggled to score six. In the first 30 minutes, Taylen Green and Co. outgained Wyoming 285 to 140.
Despite the success, the Broncos tallied just six points on two Jonah Dalmas field goals. Two penalties inside the 10-yard line killed Boise State's best second-quarter drive, as George Holani's one-yard score was called back for holding and the Broncos committed a false start on third-and-goal.
Fortunately for Andy Avalos' group, Boise State only trailed Wyoming 10-6 at the break, a 'we will take it' moment considering Broncos' errors offensively.
To start the second half, the blue and orange looked itself. A Rodney Robinson interception sparked some sideline energy, and Dirk Koetter's offense responded in impressive fashion.
Boise State marched 80 yards in nine plays to open the frame, eating up nearly five minutes off the clock. Holani and true freshman Ashton Jeanty, who turned a backbreaking play into positivity, led the physical drive, before Green capped it off with a five-yard score on the ground.
Leading 13-10, the Broncos looked to open the flood gates and took full control of the game's little momentum. As Clemons struggled to throw with any confidence, Wyoming quickly became one dimensional.
However, one dimension was plenty with Swen pounding the rock. The 5-11, 206-pound back flipped the script with an 83-yard touchdown carry and increased his total to 212 yards on 17 carries.
Although he did not score himself, Swen's 42-yard carry in the first quarter set up Wyoming's first touchdown early in the game. Outside of Swen's two massive carries, the Cowboys only had 159 yards of total offense entering the fourth quarter, but led 17-13.
Wyoming nearly put itself in a position to extend the lead early in the fourth quarter, but a deep ball to Treyton Welch was ruled incomplete at Boise State's 21-yard line. The coverage from Robinson forced the Cowboys to give the Broncos another opportunity.
On the next possession, Green showed why he is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback. The lengthy signal caller ran three times for 15 yards, including a drive-saving six-yard gain on fourth-and-one.
Five plays later, Boise State got the explosive play it needed, as Billy Bowens went up and grabbed a 38-yard touchdown between two Wyoming defenders.
The hookup marked the Broncos first play of 20 yards or more since midway through the first quarter and gave Boise State a 20-17 lead with seven minutes to play.
While Swen stole the running back matchup with his eye-opening numbers, Holani and Jeanty were great once again in Saturday's game. Holani hit the 100-yard mark for the 13th time in his college career in Laramie.
The Mountain Division battle came down to one drive with two squads looking to earn a conference championship game bid. Wyoming had just over two minutes to go score from its own 12-yard line.
An interception from standout safety JL Skinner appeared to put a bow on the win for the Broncos Saturday, but things took a turn for the worst.
With 45 seconds remaining, Holani fumbled, setting Wyoming up in position to kick a field goal to tie the game or a touchdown to win.
Once again, Skinner saved the day, grabbing an interception in the end zone on the next play to give Boise State the win.
Boise State returns to Albertsons Stadium for the final game of the regular season Saturday, Nov. 25 against Utah State. Kickoff is scheduled for 10 a.m. MT on CBS.
- Ruled out Saturday: DT Jackson Cravens, LB Ezekiel Noa, EDGE Demitri Washington, N Tyreque Jones, S Zion Washington, K/P Will Ferrin, OL Mason Randolph, OL Cord Kringlen and WR Cole Wright.
- EDGE George Tarlas also is out for the season.
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