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Boise State beats UT Martin 30-7 in sellout home opener

George Holani's 157-yard performance carried the Boise State Broncos to a 30-7 win Saturday over the UT Martin Skyhawks at Albertsons Stadium.

BOISE, Idaho — The Boise State Broncos improved to 2-1 Saturday with a 30-7 win over the UT Martin Skyhawks at Albertsons Stadium. 

On its first possession of the contest, Boise State's offense had its best drive of 2022. Following a UT Martin three-and-out, the Broncos marched 80 yards in seven plays. Hank Bachmeier found Stefan Cobbs for an early four-yard score to put the home team up 7-0.

Similar to last week's first half at New Mexico, the Broncos' offense faced its fair share of inconsistencies following their blazing start. A Bachmeier fumble while rolling out handed UT Martin the ball on Boise State's 35-yard line. 

Quarterback Dresser Winn, one of the most-dangerous passers in the FCS, capitalized on the turnover with a 37-yard hookup to Colton Dowell on 4th and 12. 

The Bronco defense locked in after the Skyhawks' score, allowing just 33 total yards on UT Martin's next two possessions.

"I think the boneyard is definitely us and man, we adopt what it is. No one wants to spend time in the boneyard," Seyi Oladipo said. "We make sure these offenses don't want to spend time with us on the field, 'cause every time you get hit by one of our guys, we want you to feel it and get up, hold yourself up, and that's just how we are on defense."

Standout safety JL Skinner returned to the starting lineup Saturday after missing the Mountain West matchup in Albuquerque. Due to Winn's daunting passing attack, defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson rolled out six defensive backs at times. 

For the second-straight week, Borah High School grad George Tarlas made his presence felt up front. The defensive end recorded three tackles, including a tackle for loss, and added two quarterback hurries. 

Tarlas also had a big-time pass breakup early in the second half, forcing the Skyhawks to punt after facing 3rd and 17 on their own nine-yard line. Tyreque Jones and Seyi Oladipo led the way for Boise State's defense with four tackles apiece.

After back-to-back field goals by Jonah Dalmas, Bachmeier and Co. marched once again, milking three minutes and 15 seconds off the clock before halftime. Bachmeier found running back George Holani for a short touchdown with just 14 seconds left in the frame. 

Holani's elusiveness was on full display at Albertsons Stadium. The California native made Skyhawks miss between the tackles, out in space and even on special teams. 

"Being able to get him the ball on the perimeter too on some of those situations where there is space out there, we just gotta give him as many touches as we can," Avalos said. "Also, keep Ashton [Jeanty] involved too. I mean, it's the one-two punch within the run game."

Boise State's feature back finished the game with 110 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Holani added four receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown.

The 100-yard outing was the eighth of Holani's collegiate career. The Broncos are 8-0 when he hits the century mark.

"It felt really good to be back out there, especially first game on The Blue," Holani said. "Definitely excited as a team to just come back out and protect The Blue, for sure."

While it felt stagnant at times, the Broncos managed 327 total yards offensively, but 251 ticks came in the first half. It seemed the late first-half score could catapult the Boise State offense into a strong 30 minutes, but the Broncos struggled to build any momentum.

"We weren't productive in the second half. We weren't and from the standpoint of we came out and we were able to run the ball and handle the line of scrimmage in the run game, but we weren't able to protect the quarterback," Avalos said. "In some of those situations, yeah, Hank's gotta manage 'em a little better, but when you're back there with pressure in your face, it's not always a manageable situation for him.

"We've got to do a much better job protecting him so that we can get to the routes in the pass game, but, otherwise we had too many negative-yardage plays."

Offensive coordinator Tim Plough turned to Holani and true freshman Ashton Jeanty midway through the third quarter, running the ball on five straight plays. However, a third-down sack by Skyhawk standout John Ford forced the Broncos to punt it back up 20-7.

Despite a 13-play drive to start the fourth quarter, UT Martin's defense again bent, but did not break, forcing Boise State to settle for a third Dalmas field goal to extend the lead to 23-7.

As Bronco Nation impatiently awaited a big play, the special teams unit stepped up. On the following kickoff, Boise State's Oladipo forced a fumble at the 24-yard line, recovered by Idaho native Tyler Crowe. 

Set up near the red zone, Bachmeier was forced to come off the field after a roughing the passer call on UT Martin's Daylan Dotson. One play later, Taylen Green handed it off to Holani on a well-blocked stretch play for an eight-yard score, giving the Broncos' a much-needed 30-7 cushion.

"I feel great. It's after the game so my adrenaline is probably still up there, but I feel pretty good," Holani said. "Honestly, just gonna celebrate this win with the boys and when our feet hit the ground tomorrow, it's go time." 

Note: Boise State announced Saturday's home opener was a sellout, with 36,396 tickets out for the game. 36,396 is the 10th-largest crowd in Albertsons Stadium history.

"Got a chance to play in front of Bronco Nation who was awesome today," Avalos said. "I mean, I know we had a few false starts and that had a lot to do with our fans and how loud they were, especially down on the south end zone. I wanna give a shoutout to that crew down there, they were exceptional today for our defense."

Boise State travels to UTEP Friday, Sept. 23. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

Injury notes:

  • Ruled out prior to kickoff due to injury: Cortez Hogans (DE), Marco Notarainni (MLB), Riley Smith (TE), Ben Dooley (RG) and Mason Randolph (RG).
  • Sixth-year senior Will Farrar, the Broncos' No. 2 center, started at right guard Saturday for the second-straight week with Dooley and Randolph out.
  • After missing last week's at New Mexico, standout safety JL Skinner returned to the starting lineup.
  • Safety Jared Reed was carted off the field following Boise State's kickoff after Cobbs' first quarter touchdown. Reed did not see action during the 2021 season.
  • Cornerback Caleb Biggers was helped off the field by trainers in the third quarter. Redshirt sophomore Jaylen Clark stepped in to fill the boundary corner spot.

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