The sun was shining over Sam Boyd Stadium as Joel Velazquez kicked off for the Broncos to start the Mountain West Championship. Both Boise State and San Jose State were coming off wins from the week prior. Boise State beat Wyoming 17-9 and San Jose beat Nevada 30-20 for a ticket to the championship game.
On Saturday, Dec. 19, the Boise State Broncos lost to the San Jose Spartans 34-20 in the Mountain West Championship in Las Vegas, NV.
“This team, these coaches, I’m proud of these guys for being in this position here,” said Broncos’ Head Coach Bryan Harsin. “We wanted to win this game and we had a great week at practice, prepared to come here and play better than we did today, but credit to San Jose State. We’ll go back, we’ll learn from it and we’ll apply what we learned and use that moving forward whatever that looks like, and then see whatever our next step is.”
From the start of the game, San Jose State’s energy on the sideline overpowered Boise State, and the Spartans were the first to score a touchdown.
Hank Bachmeier started as quarterback for the Broncos, leading the offense into Spartan territory where freshman kicker Jonah Dalmas made a career-long 51-yard field goal. With 3:00 left in the first quarter, the Spartans led 7-3.
To begin the second quarter, the Spartans put three points on the board with a field goal. Nose tackle Divine Obichere sacked San Jose’s quarterback to force the Spartans to punt the ball away.
San Jose State made two more field goals to extend the lead 16-3. This was the longest lead they’ve had playing against Boise State.
Bachmeier fumbled the ball, but was recovered by Boise State running back Andrew Van Buren. The Spartans scored another field goal at the 32-yard line to lead 19-3.
With seconds left in the half, Bachmeier passed for 16 yards which allowed Dalmas to kick another field goal. The Broncos closed out the half with six points and the Spartans with 19.
“We just have to be able to execute at the end of the day,” Bachmeier said. “We didn’t do that, San Jose had a great game plan and that’s what it came down to.”
After halftime, Boise State started with the ball, which Bachmeier passed to Van Buren for a 9-yard gain. Bachmeier then rushed for a first down, but on the next play wide receiver Kahlil Shakir was tackled and the Broncos had a loss of seven yards which resulted in a punt by Velazquez.
Shakir left the field and went to the medical tent after a hamstring injury.
With three minutes left in the third quarter, Avery Williams received the ensuing punt and ran 69 yards to score the first touchdown of the game. Williams tied the NCAA record for career return touchdowns, matching Dante Pettis from the Washington Huskies at nine touchdowns.
“Obviously that’s a cool accolade, but this championship would’ve meant a lot more to me,” Williams said. “What I can think of is that this is the first time we’ve lost, but have scored on special teams and that goes to show that they really kept their composure.”
As the fourth quarter started, Boise State’s sideline picked up the energy and was cheering loudly until San Jose scored a 30-yard touchdown. The Spartans then went for the 2-point conversion which put them 15 points ahead.
Bachmeier threw a 50-yard pass to tight end Riley Smith, which Van Buren then rushed for three yards to put the Broncos in the red zone. Facing fourth and goal, Bachmeier rushed to score a touchdown for Boise State.
With minutes remaining in the game, San Jose scored a touchdown to beat the Broncos 34-20. With the loss, Boise State’s potential bowl game has not been announced yet.
“I’d say more than just football, it’s our character,” Williams said. “This is really going to test guys in the locker room, myself, and we’re gonna have to see how we respond, how we come in tomorrow and break down the film with an open heart. Obviously, this is hard on myself and the guys, but we talk about character every day and that’s why I love this place.”