BOISE, Idaho – No. 14 Boise State blocked a field goal and then knocked away a Hail Mary, all in the final 15 seconds, to hold on for a 28-27 win over BYU Thursday night on the blue turf at Albertsons Stadium.
The Cougars (4-4) tried a field goal from the Broncos’ 27-yard line on second down with 15 seconds left, but the kick was blocked. BYU recovered the block in its own backfield, however, and had two more plays from back at the BSU 42. The first was a short incompletion which left just five seconds left.
Cougar quarterback Taysom Hill then rolled to his left and hucked a fly ball to the end zone that bounced off a Boise defender and fell to the blue turf, ending the crazy game.
“I think it shows the will of this team,” Boise State linebacker Tanner Vallejo said. “We scratched and clawed and were able to get the win. This is a confidence booster for this team.”
It is BYU’s fourth loss on the year, by a combined total of eight points.
Boise State dominated many aspects of the game, outgaining BYU 571-322 and moving the ball nearly at will up and down the field. But the Cougars forced five turnovers and committed none, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the first half.
Fred Warner returned one of those 59 yards for a score early in the second quarter to help BYU close to within 14-10. With just under five minutes left in the first half, Dayan Lake took his turn by sprinting up the sideline after snaring a tipped ball. His 50-yard runback made it 17-14 with 4:54 left in the half.
The Broncos scored just before halftime on a 36-yard pass from Brett Rypien to Cedrick Wilson to take a 21-17 lead into the locker room.
BYU regained the lead midway through the third quarter when Hill sneaked one in from a yard out after a spectacular catch by Mitchell Juergens got it close. The scoring drive came after Boise’s Jeremy McNichols fumbled at the BYU 42-yard line.
The Cougars made it 27-21 on a 37-yard field goal by Rhett Almond with 13:33 left in the game.
The Broncos answered almost immediately, going 90 yards in 10 plays, using just three minutes off the clock. McNichols took it in from 4-yards out and Tyler Rausa hit the extra point to put Boise State ahead 28-27 with 10:37 left.
BYU was forced to punt with 6:49 left, allowing the Broncos to run off another four minutes from the clock.
The Cougars took over at their own 8-yard line with 2:24 to go, but Hill led them on a 65-yard drive that ultimately ended in the Hail Mary attempt as the clock expired.
BYU had gained a first down at the BSU 27 on a Hill-to-Juergens 13-yard pass with 17 seconds left and the QB quickly spiked the ball to stop the clock.
With no timeouts left, Cougar coach Kalani Sitake elected to try a field goal, but the Broncos blocked the low kick. Given a second chance after recovering the block in the backfield, Hill threw once incomplete when he was rushed hard by the Boise defense.
With five seconds to go, Hill’s deep lob to the end zone found only blue-clad Boise defenders and the incompletion pushed Boise State’s record to 7-0 on the season.
“We had five turnovers and we were able to take care of the football, which is what kept us in the game,” Sitake said. “When you’re ahead 5-0 in the turnover battle, you shouldn’t even be in the game. That says a lot about how good this Boise State team is.”
BYU, which was without leading rusher Jamaal Williams due to an ankle injury suffered in practice this week, mustered just 322 yards of offense, well below its 405 yards per game average.
Squally Canada filled in at running back for the Cougars, rushing for 88 yards on 21 carries.
For Boise, McNichols rushed for 140 yards and had 109 yards receiving along with a pair of touchdowns. Thomas Sperbeck also had 109 yards receiving on nine catches, his 11th career game with more than 100 yards receiving. Rypien finished with 442 passing yards.
Up next, the Cougars take a week off before returning to the road for a game at Cincinnati on Nov. 5. Boise State is at Wyoming Oct. 29.
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