FRESNO, Calif. (AP)Hank Bachmeier passed for 283 yards and a touchdown and Boise State had five sacks and forced three turnovers to mute No. 25 Fresno State’s high-scoring offense in a 40-14 victory Saturday night.
Boise State (5-4, 3-2) dominated in the rematch of the 2018 Mountain West championship game. The Broncos lost that snow-filled game in overtime and had to wait three years to get their revenge, but never trailed and took advantage of a sloppy night by the Bulldogs (7-3, 4-2).
”Had a pretty good idea that they were going to be able to do this today because of how they worked throughout the week, their mindset, how they focused when we got down here,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. ”Nobody wavered from the plan.”
George Holani rushed for 117 yards on 21 carries. Jonah Dalmas matched his career best with four field goals.
Dalmas had a fifth field goal taken away when Fresno State was called for roughing the kicker. Three plays later. Bachmeier threw a 10-yard TD to Khalil Shakir.
It was Boise State’s defense, however, that had everyone buzzing after the game.
”That was everything,” Dalmas said. ”We needed all those crucial stops that we got. They all did their jobs, did it effectively, efficiently. The defense was a huge part of creating great field position for us.”
Jake Haener passed for 279 yards and two touchdowns for Fresno State, but threw three interceptions – one in the end zone.
Fresno State had all sorts of problems and was held to its lowest point total of the season while playing in front of its first sellout at home since 2017.
The Bulldogs were limited to 356 yards of offense – well below their 480-yard average going in – and had 11 penalties including a holding call that negated a 97-yard interception return for touchdown in the first half.
”Offensively, we just couldn’t get things rolling,” Fresno State coach Kalen DeBoer said. ”We’d make a play and then at some point in the drive a turnover or a negative play, a penalty. It’s just frustrating.”
Dalmas kicked three field goals and Andrew Van Buren scored on a 1-yard run to get the Broncos off to a fast start, but Boise State’s defense did the most damage with four sacks before halftime.
The Broncos also forced a turnover on downs on the Bulldogs’ opening possession, intercepted Haener’s pass on the first play of the next drive then later forced a punt after Fresno State had a first-and-3 at its own 33.
”It takes time to do this over and over,” Avalos said. ”When we talk about reestablishing the foundation, that’s what we’re talking about. The guys have done that the last three weeks. How physical and how disciplined the team was tonight, we have to keep building on that.”
The Bulldogs’ defense made a fourth-down stand near midfield in the second quarter that helped set up Haener’s 10-yard score to Keric Wheatfall.
Fresno State still leads the West division but no longer control its own destiny in getting to the conference championship game. ”I don’t know all the scenarios but we do need some help,” DeBoer said. ”But we have to make sure we don’t hurt ourselves anymore than we did tonight.”
EXPERIMENTING WITH THE FRESHMAN
With Boise State up 10-0 in the first quarter, Avalos replaced Bachmeier with true freshman Taylen Green for one series. Green, who played briefly in one other game this season, ran three times for 17 yards before taking a 16-yard sack. Bachmeier returned on the following drive.
The Bulldogs returned to the Top 25 this week after a month out of the rankings but their stay isn’t likely to last long following another loss to an unranked opponent.
Boise State: The Broncos have had their share of issues on both sides of the ball this season but put together one of their best overall performances to win their 14th straight road game and first in Fresno since 2011. More importantly, Avalos’ team inched closer to bowl eligibility.
Fresno State: Three consecutive wins had put the Bulldogs in great shape. They still lead the West division but their defensive problems, particularly on the back end, were fully exposed by Boise State.
Boise State: At Wyoming on Friday.
Fresno State: Hosts New Mexico on Saturday.
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