Boise State gives Fresno State the Blues, Wins Mountain West
Boise State dominated the 2014 Mountain West Championship Game
that was held on its own familiar blue turf of Bronco Stadium on Saturday
night, soundly defeating an outmatched Fresno State
The No. 22 Broncos (11-2, 7-1
MWC) opened the scoring less than three minutes into the game when quarterback
Grant Hedrick ran for a 20-yard touchdown. He added a 21-yard rushing score
early in the third quarter to give his team a 28-0 lead. Boise State
was in control at all times in between, only needing to throw a total of 16
times throughout the game.
(6-7, 5-3 MW) actually outgained its opponent by a solid margin, 402-304, but
most of those yards were amassed in comeback mode. On numerous occasions, the
Bulldogs successfully moved down the field, but were thwarted by big defensive
Down just 7-0 late in the
first quarter, FSU quarterback Brian Burrell was intercepted by linebacker
Tanner Vallejo, who returned the errant pass 63 yards for the touchdown. On the
next drive, the Bulldogs reached the Boise
State 11-yard line, but a sack by
defensive tackle Armand Nance and then a blocked field goal by Nance on
successive plays left Fresno
Running back Jay Ajayi capped
a five-minute Broncos drive following that blocked kick with a nine-yard
touchdown run. Ajayi finished the night with 70 rushing yards on 22 attempts,
while Hedrick led the team with 81 yards on nine carries.
Once the 28-0 lead was
attained, Boise State was content to sit back on defense
and let Burrell dink and dunk his way to significant yardage without suffering
much damage on the scoreboard. Burrell finished the game 30-of-45 passing for
332 yards, but only managed one score through the air.
The touchdown pass was a
25-yard strike to wide receiver Greg Watson and brought theBulldogs within two scores to a 28-14 deficit.
Fresno State then successfully executed an
onside kick, giving them renewed hope, but Burrell threw the last of his three
interceptions on the night to end those chances.
Wide receiver Josh Harper
contributed 10 catches for 130 yards in the losing cause for the Bulldogs.
With the win, Boise State
secured its designation as the highest-ranked team among the Group of Five
conferences. Under the current bowl game/playoff rules, the top team outside of
the five major conferences receives a spot in the New Year’s Six bowl games.
The Broncos will play Arizona
in the Fiesta Bowl on December 31.
State, despite the loss that gives
them a losing record on the season, is still bowl eligible and will travel to Honolulu for the Hawaii
Bowl against Rice on December 24.
Photo credit: Otto Kitsinger; Jay Ajayi finds running room
against Fresno State in the MWC Championship Game.