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Boise State gives Fresno State the Blues, Wins Mountain West

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Published: 12/07/2014

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 squad, 28-14.

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.

Fresno State (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 plays.

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 State empty-handed.

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.

Fresno 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.