Broncos win big with third-string quarterback Jaylon Henderson

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When warm-ups began before the game and redshirt senior third-string quarterback Jaylon Henderson first took the field, it became apparent that he was going to make his first ever start for the Broncos.

Henderson was under center when the Broncos faced the New Mexico Lobos on Saturday, Nov. 16, and the rest was history. Henderson led the Broncos to a 42-9 victory, and 28 of those points came in the first quarter. 28 points is the most first-quarter points since 2010 against Idaho State, and is the most points in a single quarter all season. 

“Like (Oklahoma quarterback) Jalen Hurts said, it made me want to play with a boulder on my shoulder,” Henderson said about getting to start. “I really went out there and tried to do the best I could for the seniors and the team and the coaches.”

The Broncos needed some big plays on defense with their third-string quarterback starting, and Boise State’s defense came out and did just that on the first play of the game. Chase Hatada forced a fumble from the Lobos’ quarterback Tevaka Tuioti and Sonatane Lui scooped up the ball and ran 24 yards for a touchdown. 

Lui was asked where that moment ranks in his life. Joking, Lui said, “Gosh, I think you have to rate it in the top three. My wife’s probably gonna watch this later so we’ll say second.”

Henderson was told last Sunday that he would likely be starting against the Lobos. This would be his first start as a Bronco and his first time earning the majority of snaps since playing at a junior college. Henderson stepped up prepared and had himself an outstanding night. He went 15-of-28 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. 

“It’s really impressive, but at the same time, I’m not surprised that he played like that. That guy is in here constantly preparing and doing the best he can, Hatada said. “He’s always ready to get his number called…I’m really proud of him and how he stepped up and went in there for the guys tonight.”

Henderson led the offense with confidence and was on the same page as his receivers throughout the game. One of Henderson’s most impressive passes came in the first quarter: he hit receiver John Hightower for a 51-yard completion. 

“The one ball he threw, that I remember, to Hightower was one of the best throws I’ve seen, period,” Harsin said. “I’ve coached quarterbacks for a while now. That ball was laid in there and John did a great job of catching it because it was a laser beam and it couldn’t have been thrown any more accurately than it was.”

The biggest loss for the Broncos came when STUD Curtis Weaver left the game with an injury. It remains to be announced if he will be available for the Broncos’ final two games of the regular season. 

The Lobos never posed a threat, but it might be a different story when the Broncos head to Utah to take on the Aggies, who are 5-1 in conference play on, Saturday, Nov. 23. 

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