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Boise State's defense dominates in 31-14 win over New Mexico

The Broncos' defense held the Lobos to just 123 total yards in the 31-14 win in Albuquerque. Latrell Caples' two touchdowns led the way for Boise State offensively.

BOISE, Idaho — It certainly was not a pretty win, nor did it come easy offensively until late, but the Boise State football team found a way to pick up a 31-14 victory Friday at New Mexico.

"This is one game, we're gonna celebrate what we did well in this game, but we got to be able to build off of it and move forward from here," head coach Andy Avalos said.

The Broncos' defense shined in Albuquerque, especially early on. Through seven offensive possessions, the Lobos totaled just 38 yards, despite standout safety JL Skinner's absence from the first Mountain West contest. 

Similar to last week at Oregon State, the Boise State offense got off to a dreadful start, moving the chains for the first time on a five-yard George Holani run with 2:28 left in the first quarter. 

Boise State's fourth offensive possession of Friday's contest brought some much-needed excitement for Bronco Nation. Hank Bachmeier gave redshirt sophomore Cole Wright his first-career reception on a 47-yard grab.

Five plays later, Tim Plough brought in defensive linemen Scott Matlock and Herbert Gums to lead Holani to a four-yard pickup on fourth and one from New Mexico's 22-yard line. 

Finally on the first play of the second quarter, Bachmeier found Latrell Caples for an 18-yard touchdown strike to put Boise State up 7-0.

"It was like a look we went over all week," Caples said. "If we see the Lobos sitting there, we strike 'em a little bit, give 'em a little Julian Edelman juke route and then get in."

Boise State's defensive allowed just 64 total yards in the first half, thanks to constant pressure from Matlock and senior linebacker Ezekiel Noa. The California native had three tackles, including a sack-and-a-half, and a pass breakup in the first half.

On New Mexico's first offensive possession of the second half, Matlock and Borah grad George Tarlas combined for a sack on Lobos' quarterback Miles Kendrick on third down to put New Mexico at its own nine-yard line. 

The massive defensive effort led to a spark from the Broncos' special teams unit. Punting in the back of his own end zone, New Mexico's Aaron Rodriguez was blocked by Andrew Simpson. Boise State's Deven Wright jumped on the ball in the end zone, giving the Broncos' a 17-0 lead early in the third frame.

Boise State finished with six sacks Friday, including one-and-a-half from Tarlas and an impressive third-down stop from Isaiah Bagnah to force a New Mexico punt midway through the third quarter.

"I think for one, the defensive line did a really good job," Avalos said. "Last week we got some pressure on the quarterback and caused a couple bad throws, some of them turned into takeaways. Tonight we were able to just land on the quarterback."

Bachmeier was up and down in the win, but found his groove in the second half outside of an interception thrown into double coverage. The veteran signal caller tossed three or more touchdowns for the fourth time in his career. 

Ultimately, Bachmeier completed 16 of 27 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns, with the lone interception.

"Everyone's happy, everyone's happy for him, happy for the team," Avalos said.

For the second-straight week, Boise State's ground game struggled to pick up steam until late in the third quarter, before Holani and true freshman Ashton Jeanty found their footing in the second half. 

Holani finished the game with 67 yards on 20 carries, while Jeanty added 72 yards on 12 carries.

Jeanty's back-to-back carries for 12 and 16 yards pushed the Broncos offense down the field on their final possession of the third quarter. In the end, Bachmeier found Holani through the air for a three-yard touchdown dump to extend the lead to 24-0.

New Mexico's first touchdown of the night came two plays after the Bachmeier-Holani connection. Kendrick hit Geordon Porter for a 69-yard score.

In the fourth quarter leading 24-7, Boise State leaned on its run game, looking to build some momentum across the offensive line for next week's home opener against UT Martin (Saturday, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. MT).

Holani and Jeanty carried the rock twice each on the Broncos' final scoring possession for a total of 20 yards. The Boise State offense showed some flare on its final touchdown, with a misdirection dump to Caples in motion. Caples walked into the end zone from four yards out for his second score of the game to make it 31-7.

"It felt great. It was a blessing today to be out there with my guys and to get the dub, that's all that really matters, but it was great to get the two touchdowns too," Caples said.

New Mexico would not be denied late in Friday's contest. With just over six minutes to play, Unmo Washington took off for a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown for the Lobos to cut the deficit down to 31-14.

Game notes: 

  • Alexander Teubner started at safety in place of JL Skinner, who was ruled out before Friday's game.
  • Both Ben Dooley and Mason Randolph were ruled out before the game for Boise State at right guard. Will Farrar, the Broncos' No. 2 center, earned the start against the Lobos.
  • Kaonohi Kaniho started at cornerback in place of Markel Reed, who suffered an injury in last week's loss to Oregon State.

KTVB will live stream the post-game press conference on KTVB.COM, the KTVB YouTube channel, and on the KTVB mobile app.

Interviews with Boise State head coach Andy Avalos and players will be posted online soon after the press conference ends, so Bronco Nation can watch the press conference whenever and wherever they want.

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