For the second straight week, the Boise State Broncos dug themselves into a deep hole.
For the second straight week, it was a hole the Broncos couldn’t quite dig themselves out of.
Despite a spirited rally, the Broncos were defeated 37-30 by the Air Force Falcons, effectively ending Boise State’s hopes at earning a shot to play in the Mountain West Conference title game.
Falcons quarterback Karson Roberts threw for 279 yards and ran for 66, accounting for three of the Falcons touchdowns.
The Broncos defense, who played without Senior safety Darian Thompson (concussion), gave up four plays of 50 yards or more. The Falcons totaled 328 yards on the ground.
Down 21 late in the third, the Broncos battled back thanks to three interceptions and renewed effort on defense.
A Tyler Rausa 45-yard field goal brought the Broncos to within seven with 11 seconds on the clock. The ensuing onside kick bounced harmlessly out of bounds and, with the Broncos out of timeouts, the Falcons were able to run out the clock.
The game started with a bang for Boise State. On the first play from scrimmage, Jeremy McNichols took the handoff and sprinted 83 yards for the score. It was the 10th consecutive game McNichols scored a rushing touchdown, setting a Mountain West record.
After McNichols run got things started, the BSU defense responded with a big play of their own. On the Falcons first play from scrimmage, Tanner Vallejo forced a Roberts fumble that was promptly scooped up by Ben Weaver.
Two rushes for minimal gains and an incomplete pass brought in Rausa. He connected on a 37-yard field goal, giving Boise State an early 10-0 lead.
After the teams exchanged punts, Air Force started their drive with a 59-yard run by Jacobi Owens. The Boise State defense, though, buckled down and held the Falcons to a 18-yard field goal by Luke Strebel.
The Broncos responded with a 13-play drive. Brett Rypien threw for 33 yards on the drive, connecting on passes to Thomas Sperbeck, Chaz Anderson, and Jake Roh.
The drive would stall out and Boise State settled for a 45-yard Rausa field goal.
Then the big plays once again reared their ugly head.
Boise State gave up 21 points and 241 total yards to Air Force in the second quarter. Roberts was a perfect 4-4 for 134 yards, including a 38-yard pass to Garrett Griffin and a 67-yard touchdown to Jalen Robinette.
Roberts would score on a 1-yard sneak after the Griffin reception. A 48-yard touchdown run by Timothy McVey, his first carry of the game, would finish out the scoring for Air Force.
The Broncos only totaled 89 yards on the quarter. Their best chance at scoring was snuffed when a 44-yard field goal attempt by Rausa was blocked.
One positive for the quarter was Armand Nance sacking Roberts, the first time a Falcons quarterback had been sacked all year.
A Roberts 51-yard touchdown pass to Griffin on the first series of the third quarter put Air Force up 31-13 and was followed a few series later with a 32-yard Strebel field goal.
The comeback started with a Raymond Ford interception. The Falcons were driving when Ford intercepted Roberts in the end zone, returning it 39 yards.
A few plays later, Rypien found Sperbeck for a 34-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 34-20.
A Chanceller James interception at the end of the third brought new life to the Broncos and to Albertsons Stadium. The Broncos failed to do anything on the next series, but a Ben Weaver interception gave them the ball right back.
A 7-play, 50-yard drive was capped off with a Thomas Stuart 2-yard touchdown run, leaving 5:35 left for the Broncos to try to salvage Senior Night.
The Falcons put together a three-minute drive and used a 45-yard Strebel field goal to seal the victory.
McNichols finished the game with 20 carries for 151 yards and also had a huge reception on the final touchdown drive.
Rypien was 23-48 for 237 yards and the touchdown pass while Sperbeck finished with seven catches for 79 yards. He also became the leader for single season receiving yards.
The Broncos will attempt to finish the regular season out on a winning note when then travel to face San Jose State Friday at 1:30 pm