Late in the first quarter, the 24th-ranked Boise State Broncos had just allowed the Marshall Thundering Herd to drive 68 yards on five plays. Marshall took the early 7-0 thanks in part to three plays of 10 yards or longer and thoughts turned to last week’s first-half against Florida State.
It’s a good thing there was still plenty of game left to play.
Boise State (2-0) held Marshall to only 104 total yards outside of that drive, including a cool zero in the second-half, as the Broncos defeated the Thundering Herd 14-7.
Scoring was at a premium but freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier still managed to pass for 282 yards as the Broncos totaled 437 overall. He accounted for both Bronco scores — one through the air and one on the ground — but also had two turnovers in the second half.
But it was the defense that delivered on Friday night.
Even though the Turnover Throne has been retired, the Broncos still forced two. Kekoa Nawahine was in on both of them, forcing a fumble in the first quarter (recovered by Tyreque Jones). Nawahine also had a nice interception in the fourth quarter.
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Jones was filling in again for DeAndre Pierce and had another solid game.
Curtis Weaver and Demitri Washington each had a sack as the Broncos held Marshall without a first down in the second half and only nine total.
In two games, the Broncos have allowed only 68 yards of offense on 13 drives in the second-half. On third-down conversions in 2019, Florida State and Marshall have gone a combined 3-21.
Ezekiel Noa was another standout as the Broncos defense continues to get outstanding play across the board. In-game adjustments have also helped. And while opponents are racking up yards early, the defense has settled in during both games and delivered monumental performances.
Boise State Broncos on offense
Struggles finishing drives was a Boise State hiccup on offense most of the evening. There was an Eric Sachse missed field goal attempt from 49 yards. The two turnovers by Bachmeier. A holding call that brought back an Akilian Butler 74-yard touchdown reception. Miscues that halted promising drives.
The offense was also missing key pieces. Lineman John Ojukwu did not suit up. CT Thomas did but he didn’t play. And Robert Mahone was not seen on the field after the second quarter.
Still, there was plenty of good to find on offense. True freshman George Holani took the bulk of the carries in the second half, finishing with 103 yards on 22 carries, the first such game of his career. It was also the first time in the last 16 that Marshall allowed a 100-yard rusher.
Eight different receivers caught passes, with Khalil Shakir and tight end John Bates each catching five. John Hightower was the beneficiary of Bachmeier’s touchdown pass, catching a slant over the middle and taking it 47 yards to the house on the fourth play of the second half.
The victory by the Broncos also ended Marshall’s streak of 19-straight wins when scoring first.
It may have not been the prettiest of victories, but for the 18th-straight season, the Broncos won their home opener.