The anticipated matchup between Boise State and the University of Central Florida resulted in a 31-36 loss for the Broncos on Thursday Sept. 8. After waiting eight months to play, the Florida weather delayed kickoff by three hours.
This game was head coach Andy Avalos’s debut after being announced as Boise State’s new head football coach in January.
Boise State started strong with a pick six by redshirt junior cornerback Tyric LeBeauf in the game’s opening minutes. According to Boise State Athletics, LeBeauf’s interception is tied for the longest interception in school history.
“It felt good, you know,” Lebeauf said when asked about his touchdown. “I do what the coaches are asking me to do and not trying to go out there and do anything I haven’t been doing in spring ball, fall camp and stuff like that. When the opportunity presents itself you gotta take advantage of it.”
With four minutes left in the first quarter, senior running back Andrew Van Buren rushed 22 yards to score a touchdown for Boise State. Minutes into the second quarter, senior wide receiver Khalil Shakir scored another touchdown for the Broncos off a 19-yard pass from junior quarterback Hank Bachmeier.
Less than a minute later, UCF scored a 23-yard touchdown, but the Broncos drove the ball down the field where sophomore kicker Jonah Dalmas kicked a 31-yard field goal.
Before closing out the half, the Knights scored another touchdown to close the gap (21-24) between them and the Broncos. As UCF came alive, Boise State’s momentum shifted.
In the third quarter, UCF gained a total of 181 yards and scored two touchdowns while Boise State gained -11 yards. On defense, redshirt sophomore edge Isaiah Bagnah had two sacks that energized the Boise State sideline.
But that excitement was quickly shot down at the start of the fourth quarter. UCF scored off a safety on a bad snap over the punter’s head.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, Boise State’s fifth-year nickelback Kekaula Kaniho was disqualified for targeting. He will have to sit out the first half of the Sept. 10 game against the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP).
The Broncos took the lead 31-30 with Shakir’s touchdown off a seven-yard pass from Bachmeier late in the fourth quarter. Four minutes later, UCF scored a touchdown to take the final lead 36-31.
With minutes left, the Broncos attempted to drive the ball down the field, but a pass from Bachmeier was intercepted by the Knights.
“It’s heartbreaking that we didn’t finish the game,” Avalos said. “But the biggest thing for us is we’re excited about who we can become and where we can grow from here. To see the guys battle through what we did tonight and to fight back there at the end, we can build off of that.”
Boise State will be heading home to prepare for the matchup against UTEP on Friday, Sept. 10.