Boise State concedes Mountain West title in reverse of last year’s win

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The No. 1 Boise State Broncos defended The Blue and their Mountain West Champions title once more against the No. 3 Fresno State Bulldogs on Saturday, Dec. 1. Their monumental effort on a snowy, slick field led to a narrow loss during overtime, marking the first game the Bulldogs have ever won in Boise.

The Broncos’ relinquishment of the title to the Bulldogs brings them to 10-3 overall and 7-2 in the Mountain West division. This poses a stark contrast to their previous Mountain West win, 17-14, against Fresno State last year before sweeping the Las Vegas Bowl, 38-28, from University of Oregon. This also comes after their 24-17 victory over Fresno State earlier this season.

“For all the players in the game tonight, they all fought hard both sides of the ball,” said head coach Bryan Harsin. “I’m very proud of our team and certainly Fresno deserved to win the game. They played well. We got ourselves into an overtime situation and they came up with the win.”

In the first quarter, Boise State faced an uphill battle in the rain, which soon turned into snow. With 9:03 left on the clock, Fresno quarterback Marcus McMaryion found wide receiver Michiah Quick for the 15-yard score. However, with 1:56 left on the clock, Rypien passed the ball, which redshirt senior wide receiver Sean Modster caught despite Fresno State’s Jason Bryant tipping it, leading the Broncos to 7-7.

Right before halftime, Fresno State scored a field goal to pull ahead 10-7 with 3:20 left on the clock.

In the third quarter, Fresno State earned another field goal, 13-7, with 11:15 left on the clock. Junior running back Alexander Mattison proceeded to run for 11 yards, meriting his 11th career 100-yard game, and his sixth this season

In the middle of the fourth quarter, Mattison ran 34 yards past Fresno State’s defense to the endzone to tie the game 13-13, after having already rushed 200 yards. Sophomore safety Kekaula Kahino intercepted the ball after Fresno State’s fumble with 4:11 left. However, both the Broncos and Bulldogs held a steady defense, leading them into overtime. This was the first time a Mountain West Championship game had ever gone into overtime.

Redshirt senior kicker Haden Hoggarth scored a 23-yard field goal to make up for the Bulldogs’ blocking straight-on to bring the Broncos up 16-13. After the Bulldogs ran the ball, the Broncos went into defense mode but then called a last-minute timeout in an attempt to stop the Bulldogs. In spite of this, the Bulldogs still scored a touchdown, effectively winning the Mountain West Championship 19-16.

“My hats off to the Boise State program and coach Harsin. They’re an excellent team, very well coached,” said Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford. “I’m really proud of our kids, the way we were resilient tonight and kept fighting back in a hard-fought game.”

Despite facing a helmet-to-helmet hit in the fourth quarter, Mattison rushed for 200 yards and scored a touchdown on 40 carries. This marked the fifth matchup in which Mattison has rushed for over 100 yards.

“This championship was an opportunity to go out there and leave a legacy with those seniors,” Mattison said. “So it is disappointing we couldn’t send them off that way.”

Despite their 2018 football season coming to an end, the Broncos made this season one to remember, pushing through multiple setbacks, putting up fierce resistance against rival teams and still delivering solid play on the field. The team as a whole turned around uncertain prospects into a compelling championship bid, breaking individual records along the way.

The Broncos will advance to the First Responders Bowl to square off against Boston College in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday Dec. 26. Kickoff time will be at 11:30 a.m. Mountain Standard Time on ESPN. The Broncos will start their 2019 season playing against the Florida State Seminoles in Jacksonville on Saturday, August 31, 2019. Kickoff time and channel are to be determined.

Correction: 9:21 p.m. 12/03/2018. An earlier version of this article cited Oregon State as playing in the Vegas Bowl. It has since been changed to University of Oregon. 

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