For nearly 3.5 quarters on Friday night, the run game of the Boise State Broncos was virtually non-existent.
Approaching the 8:30 mark of the fourth quarter, the Broncos had carried the ball 19 times for grand total of 38 yards. Leading 17-13 and driving, Boise State finally got things going on the ground.
Robert Mahone scored on a 10-yard touchdown run and added another from the same distance on the next drive as the Broncos (4-0, 1-0) defeated the Air Force Falcons 30-19 at Albertsons Stadium.
Counting the first of Mahone’s touchdown runs, the Broncos finished out the fourth quarter carrying the ball 10 times for 55 yards. Mahone ended up with 73 yards on 13 carries and the two scores.
The passing game was heavily relied on up until this point, with freshman Hank Bachmeier putting up another efficient game. Bachmeier was hit hard early, but the Broncos — for the most part — were able to keep him off the turf, especially in the second-half.
Bachmeier finished 19-26 for 263 yards and two touchdown passes. Most importantly, he did not turn the ball over.
The receiving corp had another nice game as well, with seven players catching passes. CT Thomas led the way with 5 receptions for 119 yards and one touchdown. John Hightower also had five receptions and John Bates had three, including a touchdown reception.
Despite giving up points in the second half for the first time in 2019, the defense of the Boise State Broncos had a solid showing. Air Force (2-1, 0-1), who entered the game averaging 356 yards per game on the ground, had only 242. They managed to average 4.7 yards per carry but the Broncos came up with huge stops on third and fourth downs when needed.
Ezekiel Noa, Sonatane Lui, David Moa, Kekaula Kaniho, Benton Wickersham, and Khafari Buffalo, who had 11 tackles, were among the standouts.
Field position was the name of the game in the first quarter, with the teams exchanging a couple of punts.
The game plan for Boise State on offense emerged early, with the Broncos opening the game with four straight passes.
Air Force was able to put together a six-play, 46 yard drive that wrapped around the first and second quarter. Quarterback Donald Hammond III ran it in from eight yards out. The scoring play was the first play of the second quarter and Boise State was down 7-0.
Boise State responded with a drive of their own. Bachmeier found Thomas, Khalil Shakir, and Bates all for 12-yard receptions on the drive. It was Thomas — with his second third-down catch of the drive — who Bachmeier connected with on a 36-yard strike to even the score.
Eric Sachse gave the Broncos a 10-7 lead with a 40-yard field goal. Air Force would then hold the ball the last 5:53 of the half and get a 30-yard field goal from Jake Koehnke to even the score at halftime.
Hammond appeared to injure his right leg or ankle, noticeably limping around on it at the end of the drive. He would be replaced by Isaiah Sanders for most of the third quarter.
Sanders promptly came in and led the Falcons on a scoring drive to start the third. He completed passes of 19 and 11 yards to Geraud Sanders but ultimately the Broncos D held. Koehnke kicked another field goald, this one from 31 yards out, to give Air Force a 13-10 lead.
Later in the quarter, Bachmeier found a wide open Bates for a 28-yard touchdown. It was a lead the Broncos would never relinquish.
Hammond would return at the end of the third. He had the team driving to open the fourth, but a huge stop by Moa and others on a 4th-and-1 halted that drive.
Down ten after Mahone’s first score, Hammond had a nice 14-yard run to get the Falcons going. On the next play, however, he threw into double cover coverage and was picked off by Kaniho.
Air Force’s last score was a 31-yard touchdown pass from Hammond to Geraud Sanders.
With a few key players banged up, the bye week comes at a nice time for the Boise State Broncos. The Broncos next play 10/5 at UNLV.