In a game filled with oddities, Boise State began their matchup against the Colorado State Rams with 14 student-athletes unavailable due to COVID-19 protocol with nine positive tests.
While Boise State did not announce which specific players were out due to COVID-19 protocol, there was a number of significant student-athletes who did not dress down for the game. The players not suited for the game included quarterback Chase Cord, wide receivers Octavius Evans and Shea Whiting. Along with their top-three nose tackles on the depth chart, Keeghan Freeborn, Herbert Gums and Scale Igiehon, cornerback Tyric LeBeauf, linebacker Brock Miller, safeties Roman Kafentzis and Evan Taylor and punter Joel Valazquez.
Leading rusher for the Broncos, George Holani was also out with an injury.
Hank Bachmeier was back in the lineup after not playing the last two weeks for undisclosed reasons. The Broncos are coming off a 51-17 loss to the Brigham Young University Cougars the week prior. Two losses in a row would be detrimental to the Broncos chances of winning the Mountain West.
From the first kick off to the final whistle, it was all Boise State. On the first drive of the game, the Broncos held the Rams to a three-and-out, blocked the following punt and returner Avery Williams took it back for a touchdown.
“Avery is all over the place,” said linebacker Riley Whimpey. “On special teams, on defense and every time he’s on the field, you know a play is going to be made. We have complete confidence in Avery and we know what he’s capable of doing and he came out and showed out.”
Later in the first quarter, the Rams lined up to kick a routine 28-yard field goal attempt. The attempt was blocked by defensive lineman Scott Matlock and returned by Kekaula Kanhiho for the Broncos second special team touchdown of the night.
“It was important for us to start fast as a defense. Really just execute from the start and getting back into that defense that we want especially after last week’s performance,” said Kanhiho.
The touchdown fired up the Broncos so much that they were then issued a sideline warning after multiple players rushed onto the field during the play. The touchdown put the Broncos up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
With 2:16 left in the first half, the Rams lined up to punt. Williams, who had blocked the first punt of the game, proved he could do it again as he sent the kick flying to the side to be returned by the Broncos for their third special team touchdown of the night.
“We knew with this team that they had it, that we could come off the edge and go get one, and ended up getting two,” Williams said. “It was a great job by the coaches this week and a great job by the players executing. We hit them with the same thing the second time. It was weird they actually checked away from me the second time.”
Despite the Rams leading in offensive yards, they found themselves down 42-7 at the half. There have only been two other instances since 2004 that a team has had a 35-point lead at halftime and been outgained in yards.
The Rams began showing signs of life at the beginning of the second half with two quick scores narrowing the deficit to 42-21.
The Broncos responded with a touchdown and a field goal of their own. The touchdown came from redshirt-senior, right tackle, Nick Crabtree. Crabtree recovered a fumble in the endzone to put the Broncos up 52-21 at the end of the third quarter. The touchdown was Crabtree’s first of his collegiate career and the final score of the game.
Backup quarterback Cade Fenegann came into the game in the fourth quarter after Bachmier finished 16-28 with 202 yards and a touchdown.
After last week’s loss, Whimpey believed the team had to “look itself in the mirror, reflect and come out stronger.” Whimpey also pinned the loss on himself. Against the Rams, he had a team high of 13 tackles including three for a loss.
“A lot of fun tonight. When things are going your way and your executing, the energy is there, and you’re having lots of fun. It was an awesome game and we enjoy it for sure,” Whimpey said.
The Broncos move to a record of 2-1 on the season. Their next matchup is Nov. 21, at the Hawaii Warriors.