Down to the Wire: BYU beats Boise State 28-31 in potential final game of historic rivalry

Boise State football
Mackenzie Hudson | The Arbiter

After heated back-and-forth plays and a controversial final call, Boise State was defeated by BYU 28-31 in a rivalry loss to remember. 

Spanning over 13 games and 11 consecutive seasons, the rivalry between Boise State University and BYU has been nothing short of historic.

With BYU heading into the Big 12 Conference next season, the end of the Boise State/BYU rivalry is in sight. 

The rivalry originated in 2003 when the Broncos handed the Cougars a heartbreaking 50-12 loss. 

Since then, the two teams have met 12 times and created an electric rivalry. Five of their meetings were decided by one score. 

The Broncos held an 8-4 advantage in the series coming into their Nov. 5 game against BYU, including a 5-1 record at home. 

The Cougars only win at Albertsons Stadium came during the 2020 season. They beat the Broncos 51-17 and handed them their largest defeat on The Blue.

Despite being ranked No. 25 in the AP preseason top 25, BYU has had an underwhelming season up to this point. Prior to this rivalry game, the Cougars lost their last four matches and held a 4-5 record.

The Cougars losing streak can be attributed to their fourth down struggles. They are one of only seven teams that have converted under 30% of their fourth-down attempts this season. 

Boise State football
[Photo from Boise State’s 2020 matchup against BYU.]
Mackenzie Hudson | The Arbiter

BYU’s rush defense has struggled this season as well. Their defense has allowed opponents to gain at least 200 yards on the ground in six of their last seven games. 

However, their efforts seemed seemed to overpower the Broncos in this matchup.

“It’s not an easy loss to swallow, especially when it is a rival game,” Bronco wide receiver Latrell Caples said. “It’s hard when you know it will probably be the last matchup.”

More than 34,000 fans filled Albertsons Stadium to watch the showdown between the rivals on The Blue. 

The Cougars opening drive resulted in a 3-yard rushing touchdown by BYU quarterback Jaren Hall

The Broncos tied the game late in the first quarter when wide receiver Latrell Caples caught a 16-yard pass from quarterback Taylen Green

The second quarter was full of turnovers and controversy. 

In their matchup last year, BYU struggled against the Bronco defense last season, recording three fumbles and one interception. 

In the second quarter of this game, BYU quarterback Hall threw interceptions to JL Skinner and Rodney Robinson.

The Bronco defense came up big in the last play of the half. The Cougars were unable to convert their decisive 1-yard play into a touchdown, resulting in a 7-7 tie heading into halftime. 

Boise State started the third quarter with a 71-yard scoring drive. Efforts from running back George Holani put the Broncos in scoring position. 

Green completed a 9-yard pass to wide receiver Eric McAlister. The Broncos regained the lead 14-7. However, BYU was quick to respond with a 25-yard field goal by kicker Jake Oldroyd to close the margin 14-10.

The Cougars scored back-to-back, and a 24-yard reception touchdown by wide receiver Puka Nacua put BYU up 14-17.

In the fourth quarter, the Broncos had a strong drive that led to a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Holani. The Broncos recovered the lead 21-17.

The Cougars answered the scoring drive with one of their own. Running back Hinckley Roparti had a 48-yard reception to put the Cougars up 21-24.

Holani came up big with an 11-yard touchdown rush to regain a Bronco lead 28-24. 

Referees reviewed a controversial call on a deciding touchdown reception play by BYU’s Nacua, which they then confirmed. The lead went back to the Cougars 28-31.

“That’s the road we live on as a defense, a razor’s edge,” safety JL Skinner said. “It could all come down to one play. That’s what we live with as a defense. Those are plays you have to live with and learn from but that’s what we signed up for.”

The Broncos fall to 6-3 for their overall record and retain a 5-0 record in the Mountain West Conference. 

The Broncos will head to Reno, Nevada, to play University of Nevada on Nov. 12.

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