“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
For the Boise State Broncos (3-1, 7-1), these are the roller coaster of emotions they continually cause on a weekly basis.
On Saturday night in Laramie, the Broncos once again failed to play a complete game, bringing in the worst of times by faltering late to Wyoming Cowbows (4-0, 6-2), 30-28.
Chase Appleby sacked Brett Rypien with 1:25 left, forcing a fumble. The ball rolled out of the end zone, giving the Cowboys a safety and the eventual victory.
The Broncos attempted an onside kick after the safety, but did not get it. The Cowboys were then able to run out the clock for their first victory in 11 tries against Boise State. It was also Wyoming’s first victory over a ranked team since a 2002 victory over Air Force.
It was a tale of two halves on both sides of the ball for each team. The teams combined for 632 combined and 38 points in a half that saw only two punts.
The defense of each team rose to the occasion in the second-half, with the Wyoming offense able to do slightly better by scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter to Boise State’s eight.
Wyoming managed 199 second-half yards while Boise State could only muster 145.
Boise State was rolling on the first drive of the game, moving the ball 52 yards with three Rypien completions and 16 rushing yards from Jeremy McNichols. McNichols, though, lost a fumble for a second-straight game and Wyoming recovered.
The teams exchanged punts and the Broncos defense found something that had been missing all season. David Moa tipped a Josh Allen pass and Chanceller James was able to secure it, giving the Broncos defense only their third interception of the season.
The offense responded by going 71 yards on eight plays. On the drive, McNichols had a 20-yard run and Chase Blakely made his first career reception, a 28-yard catch that set up a McNichols five-yard touchdown run.
It was the 20th straight game in which McNichols scored a touchdown.
The Cowboys kept their offense rolling and took the ball down to the Broncos two-yard line. On third and fourth down, the Broncos defense stuffed Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen and star running back Brian Hill on consecutive carries, keeping Boise State ahead 7-0.
A five-play, 99-yard drive ensued. McNichols got the Broncos breathing room with a stumbling, crawling 40-yard run. Rypien found Cedrick Wilson for a 43-yard reception, with McNichols eventually giving the Broncos a 14-0 lead with a two-yard run.
Big runs by Hill moved the ball for Wyoming. The Cowboys made it 14-7 with a Allen to tight end Jacob Hollister 28-yard touchdown pass.
The Broncos answered back with Rypien completing passes to Thomas Sperbeck and Wilson. McNichols rushed for 26 yards and Alexander Mattison capped the drive off with a 16-yard touchdown run.
A 40-yard field goal by Cooper Rothe made it 21-10 with 1:48 left in the half.
Then the Rypien interception bug appeared. In a play that saw Sperbeck fall–possibly pushed–to the ground, Rico Gafford was able to pick off Rypien and return it to Bronco territory.
Two plays later, Allen found Hollister again and it was 21-17 at the half.
McNichols ran for 121 yards on just 11 carries in the first half while Hill had 14 for 101.
Rypien was 15-22 for 222 yards while his Wyoming counterpart was 10-14 for 153 yards and two scores.
Scoring dried up completely in the third quarter as the teams combined for six punts and four 3-and-outs.
Wyoming used a drive at the end of the third and first part of the fourth. Rothe knocked through a 39-yard field goal to cut the gap to one.
The Broncos found their offense again, using a five-play, 78-yard drive to extend their lead. Sperbeck threw his third-touchdown pass of the season, this time connecting with Rypien for a 33-yard touchdown pass.
The mirror game continued, with Allen throwing for his third touchdown pass, this time to Tanner Gentry. The Cowboys used a two-point conversation to tie it up at 28 with just over six minutes remaining.
Allen threw for a career-high 274 yards to go along with his touchdown passes. He also ran for 53 yards.
Hill finished with 146 yards on the ground. The Broncos held him to 45 yards on 14 carries in the second half.
Hollister finished with six catches for 144 yards and Gentry had six for 73.
Rypien threw for 295 yards while McNichols ended with 143 yards on 18 carries. He only carried the ball seven times in the second half. Mattison ended with a nice night of four carries for 40 yards.
Nine receivers caught passes tonight for the Broncos, led by Sperbeck. The senior had eight catches for 80 yards and Wilson added four for 84.
Third-down conversions hurt the Broncos as well. Boise State was only 2-8 while Wyoming converted 10 of 18.
The Cowboys also did not commit a penalty all evening while the Broncos committed four. Wyoming also held the ball for nearly 36 minutes.
Boise State will now need a little help to have a shot at winning their division. Wyoming is in the driver’s seat and they will need to lose at least twice for Boise State to have a chance to be division champion.
Next up for the Broncos will be the San Jose State Spartans, a game set for Friday night in Boise.