LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – If there was any time Utah State was going to beat Boise State, this seemed to be the year.
The Broncos were struggling at 5-5 and had just fired its head coach Andy Avalos.
But instead, Boise State spotted the Aggies a 10-0 lead before exploding for 45 unanswered points, beating Utah State for the eighth straight time and 20 out of 21 years, 45-10.
“This is not how we wanted to send the seniors out on senior night,” USU head coach Blake Anderson said. “We turned the ball over too much. We haven’t put the ball on the ground much this year. We’ve thrown some picks but have not put the ball on the ground a lot, so to have two on the ground today, we can’t have that. Clearly, we struggled to stop the run defensively.”
George Holani ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns, including a career-long 75-yard touchdown run, plus a 26-yarder, each in the second quarter, as the Broncos built a 31-10 halftime lead. Holani carried 10 times and had 158 yards rushing in the half.
Taylen Green threw two touchdown passes for Boise State (6-5, 5-2 Mountain West Conference). Ashton Jeanty and Jambres Dubar combined for 142 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Broncos.
Cooper Legas completed 8 of 12 passes and threw a touchdown pass for Utah State (5-6, 3-4), who will need to win at New Mexico on Friday to become bowl eligible.
Legas suffered an injury in the second quarter and did not return. He was replaced by McCae Hillstead, who completed 6 of 12 passes for 53 yards and interception before going down with an injury of his own. Levi Williams finished the game at quarterback.
Davon Booth ran 12 times for 125 yards for the Aggies. Jalen Royals finished with seven catches for 113 yards and the one touchdown.
“It’s a little frustrating, but all the time we keep adjusting and keep fighting,” Royals said. “If it doesn’t go your way, then you’ve just got to keep going and just control what you can control.”
Utah State, which turned it over four times, managed 373 yards of total offense on the night.
Legas connected with Royals for a 57-yard touchdown on the first play of its third drive to give USU a 7-0 lead. Elliott Nimrod added a 34-yard field goal on its next possession to push its advantage to 10 points early in the second quarter.
Just 12 seconds later, Holani scored on a 75-yard touchdown run. Following a turnover by the Aggies on the ensuing possession, the Broncos cashed in when tight end Matt Lauter caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Taylen Green to give the visitors a 14-10 lead with 14:30 to go until halftime.
The Aggies appeared as if they were going to regain the lead when they drove into Boise State territory and had it first-and-goal from the 7. A 5-yard pass from Legas to Terrell Vaughn on third down moved the ball to the 2, where USU elected to go for the touchdown.
The trick play backfired, though, as Vaughn was intercepted by A’Marion McCoy, who returned it 21 yards. Boise State took advantage of that takeaway, as well, going 79 yards in four plays, capped by a 33-yard touchdown run by Holani to give the Broncos a 21-10 lead with 6:27 remaining in the quarter.
Another touchdown pass from Green to Lauter made the score 28-10. That touchdown came courtesy of another lost fumble by Utah State.
The second quarter was one to forget for the Aggies as they turned the ball over three times, converted just one first down (on four attempts), committed two penalties (comparted to zero by BSU) and allowed four sacks.
Boise State finished the game with 445 yards of total offense, including 352 on the ground. Holani racked up 178 yards rushing and the two scores on 15 carries, while Ashton Jeanty churned out 85 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Jambres Dubar also found the end zone while rushing for 57 yards on 10 carries.
Defensively, the Broncos finished with 9.0 sacks as part of their 13.0 tackles for loss.
Devin Dye racked up a career-high 14 tackles for the Aggies. MJ Tafisi Jr. had 12 stops, including 0.5 tackles for loss and one quarterback hurry, marking the seventh straight game he has notched double-digit tackles.
“The mentality is to go 1-0 and stay together, making sure to be prepared and get the dub so we can get bowl eligible,” Dye said.