BOISE, Idaho – Boise State topped Fresno State 17-14 to claim the 2017 Mountain West Championship on Saturday night at Albertsons Stadium. "I'm really proud of this team and our staff," said head coach Jeff Tedford despite the loss. "We fell short tonight, but this team has accomplished so much. This team rejuvenated the town of Fresno. We have a lot to be proud of, these guys worked really hard to get to this point. I told them in the locker room that they shouldn't hang their heads because they accomplished a lot this year, when no one really believed in them after last season."
The Bulldogs owned a 14-10 advantage at halftime behind two rushing scores by quarterback Marcus McMaryion while the team outgained the Broncos in total yardage, 224-171. But Boise State flipped the script in the second half, limiting Fresno State to 85 yards offense and manufactured 193 yards of its own. The BSU offense scored the game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter for the 17-14 win after a scoreless third.
McMaryion led Fresno State going 16-of-34 passing for 172 yards, and one interception. KeeSean Johnson was his top target who had five catches for 58 yards while Josh Hokit led the team in carries (10) and yards (46).
Defensively, Jeffrey Allison led Fresno State with 10 tackles, and George Helmuth tallied two of the Bulldogs four sacks.
Fresno State's defense was unable to produce a turnover while Boise State ripped off the game's only turnover, an interception which sealed the game with 1:50 left in the contest.
How It Happened
The Bulldogs marched down the field on its opening drive over nine plays, racking up 41 yards before a 41-yard field try hit the right upright, marking just the fifth miss this season by Jimmy Camacho, and first under 42 yards. Alike Fresno State, Boise State was held scoreless on its opening drive, but on their second drive, Boise State's Haden Hoggarth connected on a 31-yard field goal to cap a 10-play, 60-yard drive to take an early 3-0 lead
Fresno State's offense got going in the second quarter, scoring all 14 of its points in that frame. The first scoring drive started at their own 34-yard line, the Bulldogs worked their way down to Boise State's 3-yard line and were unable to punch it in on three straight runs. Faced with a fourth-and-goal, the 'Dogs went for it from the 1-yard line with McMaryion rolling out to the right where he found open space just inside the pylon to give Fresno State a 7-3 lead with 8:01 remaining in the half.
Despite a 40-yard pass to open the Broncos' ensuing drive, Fresno State forced Boise State to punt on fourth-and-12 from the Bulldogs' 39-yard line. The punt was downed at the Bulldogs' 1-yard line and a quick three-and-out forced Fresno State to punt from the back of their end zone. Broncos' punt returner Avery Williams broke free and returned the 39-yard punt 36 yards to the Fresno State 4-yard line. On third-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Alexander Mattison rushed up the middle to give the Broncos a 10-7 advantage, capitalizing on the field position.
The 'Dogs picked up the tempo in the final minutes of the first half, putting together a five-play, 77-yard drive that McMaryion capped with back-to-back rushes of 22 yards and an eight-yard TD run with less than two minutes on the clock. The 'Dogs took a 14-10 lead into the half.
With neither team making any headway offensively in the third quarter, Boise State sparked a scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter with a 59-yard pass from Brett Rypien to Cedrick Wilson down to Fresno State's 36-yard line. The Broncos worked the ball down inside the red zone before Ryan Wolpin scored from two yards out to give BSU a 17-14 lead with less than five minutes to play.
With one last gasp, the Bulldogs' offense got the ball back with 2:23 after using all their timeouts during the Broncos' previous possession. Pinned back at their own 14-yard line, Leighton Vander Esch intercepted McMaryion's pass on a third-and-7 from their own 17 after picking up three yards on the previous two plays.
• Fresno State falls to 1-2 all-time in Mountain West Championship games.
• Fresno State drops to 1-9 all-time on the road at Boise State, and 13-7 in the all-time series.
• At 9-4 overall, Fresno State has the opportunity to become the second team in NCAA history to take a double-digit loss season and turn it into a double-digit winning season the following year (Miami (Ohio), 2010)
• Fresno State fell on the road for the first time to a conference rival this season.
• KeeSean Johnson set the program record with consecutive games (35) with at least one catch, breaking Henry Ellard's record (34) held from 1979-82.
• Fresno State dropped its first game this season after owning the halftime lead (9-1).
• An area where Fresno State struggled entering the game, third-down conversions, it plagued them again as they converted just 2-of-13 third down attempts.
• After holding Boise State to 17 points last week, its lowest scoring output since 2014 vs. a conference opponent, they were held to 17 points once again.
• The Bulldogs' offensive line allowed two sacks; it was the first time the Bulldogs gave up more than one sack since traveling to Alabama on Sept.9.
• Fresno State outrushed its opponent for the 10th time this season; Fresno State lost just its second game this season when outrushing its opponent (8-2).
• Fresno State lost the turnover battle for the third time this season, they are now 0-3 in those games.