No. 20 Boise State runs over Utah State for 56-21 win
LOGAN, Utah (AP) — Boise State ran all over Utah State and right into another Mountain West Conference championship game.
George Holani rushed for a career-high 178 yards and two touchdowns, powering the 20th-ranked Broncos to a 56-21 victory Saturday night.
Jaylon Henderson threw for 187 yards and three scores in his second start as Boise State (10-1, 7-0 Mountain West) clinched a share of first place in the Mountain Division and a berth in its third consecutive conference title game.
"They knew what was at stake,” Broncos coach Bryan Harsin said. “They knew the team we were playing. They knew they had to be on the road. And I think their entire preparation, mindset and focus showed up tonight.”
“They beat us in all three phases,” Utah State coach Gary Andersen said. “Our challenge is to rally back and battle back, and see what we can do to finish this season the right way.”
Holani averaged 11.1 yards per carry to pace a Broncos rushing attack that churned out a season-best 297 yards on the ground. They averaged 6.5 per carry.
“The running backs were bouncing off our guys pretty good,” Andersen said.
Holani burned Utah State for big gains starting in the first quarter. The freshman opened each of Boise State's first three drives with a run exceeding 10 yards. His first carry turned into a 35-yard gain, and he also scored on a 5-yard Statue of Liberty play on his final attempt of the period.
It added up to 115 yards on eight carries for Holani in the first quarter alone. That set the tone for a game filled with big plays by the Broncos.
“George had a big game,” Henderson said. “He really was almost like the backbone on our offense tonight as far as moving the ball. The kid runs the ball hard."
Boise State needed only four plays to score on its opening drive, when John Hightower shedded tacklers on a 30-yard catch-and-run to put the Broncos ahead 7-0.
Utah State evened the score on a 7-yard grab by Caleb Repp, but then the dam burst and Boise State overwhelmed the Aggies on both sides of the ball.
Jalen Walker returned an interception 15 yards with 5:14 left in the first quarter to put the Broncos ahead for good. Holani followed with his Statue of Liberty touchdown late in the period — which he set up with a 36-yard run a play earlier.
Boise State kept it rolling into the second quarter. Holani and Robert Mahone each scored on a 1-yard run, and Khalil Shakir hauled in a 14-yard pass from Henderson with 19 seconds left in the half to make it 42-7.
Avery Williams added an exclamation point by returning a punt 74 yards early in the third quarter to extend Boise State's lead to 49-7.
“We're a spark team,” Williams said. “You get one spark and eventually start a fire.”
Boise State could climb a spot or two in both the AP and CFP rankings after an emphatic road victory.
Boise State: It doesn't seem to matter who the Broncos plug in at quarterback because their offense keeps running over opponents at full steam. Boise State averaged 7.5 yards per play in the first half and rolled up 383 total yards by halftime.
Utah State: An inability to stop Boise State's ground game doomed the Aggies to their most lopsided loss since the 2017 season opener at Wisconsin. Utah State also struggled to answer on offense, punting six times and turning the ball over once through the first three quarters while the Broncos ran off 49 straight points.
Boise State closes the regular season at Colorado State next Saturday.
Utah State finishes the regular season at New Mexico on Saturday.