Boise State Falls to UCF 18-16 in a Nailbiter

Taya Power-Thornton | The Arbiter

Boise State loses their high-stakes home-opening game to the University of Central Florida (UCF) 18-16. The loss drops Boise State’s record to 0-2, giving the program its worst start since 2005.

“We obviously fell short here, the last play of the game tonight…” head coach Andy Avalos said to the media. “We knew what the stretch was coming in the beginning of this season, with the first two opponents, and I’ll take this team every day of the week.”

The team’s disastrous opening week in Seattle, Washington against University of Washington, along with the fact that the Broncos had not lost a home game opener since 2001, gives this game against UCF a season-defining feel to it. 

“With a team that cares about each other as much as they do, it’s going to sting,” Avalos said. “But that’s what we’re going to draw from, and be able to use as we work forward. We learned a lot this week.”

Boise State faced adversity before the game started with  the team’s leading rusher, George Holani, not suiting up due to injury.

Holani’s injury announcement came 45 minutes before the game started and meant that sophomore running back Ashton Jeanty had to step up big in the matchup to give his team a chance.

Jeanty led the team in rushing with 115 yards on 24 attempts. He was also the team’s leading receiver with 97 yards and a touchdown on six targets. He averaged 19.4 yards per reception.

Despite Jeanty’s great performance, Boise State struggled to move the ball for most of the game. The Broncos amassed 384 offensive yards.

This was the complete opposite  for UCF however. Their offense continuously torched Boise State’s secondary, recording 272 passing yards. Their success with throwing the football caused Boise State’s defense to overcorrect, giving UCF the opportunity to establish a strong running game in the second half of the game. 

Although UCF recorded 530 yards throughout the game, nine out of their 10 drives resulted in 3 points or less.Their only touchdown came in the fourth quarter.

This attests to how great the Bronco defense played in the red zone. They forced UCF to attempt 2 field goals and turn the ball over 3 times within 25 yards of the end zone.

Boise State’s defensive performance was highlighted by one of the most electric plays of the match.

After sophomore quarterback Taylen Green threw an interception during the first drive of the second half, Plumlee and the Knights marched into the redzone. 

Senior wide receiver Javon Baker bobbled a pass from Plumlee in the endzone, resulting in the throw falling into the hands of Boise State’s Redshirt junior cornerback Jaylen Clark for an interception.

Overall the team seemed to have improved on last weeks’ loss, well except the loss part.

Green was taken out of the game in the third quarter due to leg cramps, and would not return. He completed 9 of19 pass attempts for 144 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for 37 yards.

With the unfortunate departure of Green, it forced redshirt freshman Maddux Madsen into the lineup.

When he first entered the game, Madsen was mostly asked to  hand the football off to Jeanty. When UCF put up their only touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter, it forced “Maddogg” Madsen to move the ball downfield with his arm.

“One of the biggest things that you’re going to get from Maddux is a very consistent decision making process,” Avalos said. “He is going to work on progression and he’s going to make decisions as he is taught, how he’s trained and prepared from the meeting room to the playing field. Going into those situations on game winning drives like that. That’s exactly what you have to do.”

Madsen stepped up big in the Broncos final offensive drive. He and Jeanty embarked on a 75 yard drive that resulted in  a 28-yard touchdown pass to Cobbs, who had 68 yards on 8 targets for the day.

After a failed 2-point-conversion, the Broncos found themselves leading 16-15 with less than two minutes left on the clock.

In nine plays, UCF traveled 58 yards, leaving all but three seconds on the clock before calling their final timeout.

The Knights called on sophomore kicker Colton Boomer one final time for a 40-yard field goal attempt. He has only missed one field goal during his time at UCF. 

Despite Boise State’s attempt to ice him, Boomer knocked through his fourth field goal of the game, giving his team the 18-16 walk off victory.

“There’s no excuse,” Bronco linebacker DJ Shramm said in an emotional postgame interview. “We expect to win those games … It’s disappointing, but we’re not disappointed in how we’re playing, but the fact we lost.”

The Broncos may have shot a bit too high. The loss gives the Broncos a 0-2 all-time record against UCF, and an 0-2 record against Power Five schools this season.

Furthermore, this was Boise State’s last shot to beat a Power Five team this season. The last time Boise State defeated a Power Five opponent was in 2019 when Hank Backmeier led a famous comeback victory against Florida State.

Schramm also told the media that their goals are still in front of them. Despite the heartbreaking loss, their goal is to get back to the Mountain West Conference championship game and win it.

“We’re gonna have a really good team,” Avalos said. “They love each other. They’re going to work hard together. And we’re going to have a really good season. We’ve got a lot of young players that are doing really good things against Power Five teams.”  

The Bronco schedule gets significantly easier from here, primarily facing Mountain West opponents for the remainder of the season.

“The record doesn’t represent where we want to be right now, We’ve got a lot of football left to play,” Avalos said.

Next week the Broncos will be back on The Blue to take on the University of North Dakota.

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