BOISE, Idaho — It took a quarter, but the Boise State Broncos' offense warmed up and started firing on all cylinders against the University of Texas-El Paso Miners Friday night. Boise State beat the Miners 54-13 on The Blue to improve to 1-1 on the new season.
UTEP appeared primed to put up a fight early despite being 25-point underdogs. But six turnovers along with a defense prone to yield big plays ultimately doomed the Miners
The Miners and Broncos started the game by trading a pair of field goals to bring the score to 3-3 with 9:08 left in the first. At the end of the first quarter, the Broncos had a 10-3 lead, thanks in large part to an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown by wide receiver Stefan Cobbs.
In the second quarter, the Broncos' offense starting clicking with junior quarterback Hank Bachmeier making some pretty passes to wide receiver Khalil Shakir, who showed why he was the best player on The Blue. At halftime, Boise State led the Miners 41-13.
In the second half, the Broncos' defense shined, shutting out the Miners and keeping them off the scoreboard. The Boise State offense didn't need to do much heavy lifting in the second half, with the Broncos' sole touchdown coming 13:50 in the third quarter from a 23-yard touchdown pass from Bachmeier to tight end Tyneil Hooper.
Bachmeier finished the game 17-of-24 for 340 yards and two touchdowns. Shakir was a human highlight reel on Friday night, finishing with seven receptions for 166 yards, averaging 23.7 yards per reception, including two SportsCenter Top 10 one-handed catches.
"I mean, it's cliche, that's the type of player he is, I'm telling you guys, even better person, that he's the most selfless people you'll ever meet. He cares about his teammates," head coach Andy Avalos said of Shakir following the game
After the game, junior safety JL Skinner still couldn't understand how Shakir made some of the plays that he did.
"See, I don't know how he made a couple of them catches, I'm not gonna lie to you guys," Skinner said during the post-game press conference. "But it's just Shak, so sometimes Shak does what Shak does so I don't even have an explanation for that, it's just Shak."
For Shakir, the Broncos may have won on Friday night, but the team will start reviewing the game on Saturday and start finding ways to improve.
"We're still growing, we're going to grow and learn from this game," he said.
For his exceptional one-handed catches, Shakir gave all of the credit to the Broncos' offensive line for blocking well and to Bachmeier for trusting him with some of those plays.
"That's all Hank, Hank giving me the ball, that's all Hank," Shakir said.
The defense also tallied up six turnovers, something Bronco Nation was surely excited to see after recent seasons' struggles with getting turnovers on defense. It was the first time Boise State had six turnovers since 2013.
The Broncos coasted in the second half to a 54-13 win over the Miners after building a massive first-half lead.
The Broncos' running game still struggled to find its footing against the Miners, but the depth of the stable of backs proved to hold true.
Tyler Crowe led the Broncos' rushing attack with 45 yards on seven carries, followed by Taequan Tyler's 28 yards on five carries. Junior George Holani had five carries for 22 yards and a touchdown. However, it was Andrew Van Buren who showed it's not necessarily about how many yards a back averages, but what they do with the carries. Van Buren had five rushes for a total of three yards but racked up three rushing touchdowns.
In all, the Broncos had 34 runs on offense for 124 yards and three touchdowns. While Boise State lacked a definitive lead back, the Broncos' running back by committee seemed to have worked against the Miners. Time will tell if the same strategy next week when Boise State plays the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
On special teams, sophomore kicker Jonah Dalmas went four for four on field goals for the night, with a long of 39 yards. The Meridian native also went six for six on extra points.
New athletic director Jeramiah Dickey presented Avalos the game ball for getting his first win on The Blue as head coach. Avalos said that he immediately gave it to his wife, and said it needs to go in his office at home because of how much it means to him.
"He's a real dude and a real genuine dude and we all want to play for him - play at an elite level for him," Shakir said of Avalos after the game. "He's somebody that definitely models and shows the way of how to get things done."
Next week, the Boise State Broncos will defend The Blue once again against the Oklahoma State Cowboys from the Big 12, in one of the most-anticipated home games in recent history and the first time a Big 12 team has visited The Blue during the regular season in school history.
"Thank you guys and again, can't say enough about Bronco nation coming out tonight. What an unbelievable experience and looking forward to seeing Bronco nation next week," Avalos said after the game.
Slideshow: UTEP vs. Boise State
Editor's Note: To never miss a beat of Boise State football news this season, make sure to download the KTVB app for the latest updates, stories and scores.
Watch more Boise State Football:
See all of our Boise State football coverage in our YouTube playlist: