BOISE — Boise State’s offense scored just one touchdown and didn’t do a whole lot against New Mexico on Senior Night Saturday at Albertsons Stadium.
The Broncos’ defense and special teams units did plenty themselves for it not to matter.
Boise State blocked two punts and returned them for touchdowns and the defense forced two turnovers and pitched its first shutout six seasons in a 37-0 drubbing on The Blue.
It was Boise State’s first shutout since a 55-0 win over Hawaii in 2015.
The Broncos (7-4, 5-2 MW) won a fourth consecutive game to stay alive in the Mountain Division race, although the scenario remains somewhat bleak heading into the final week of the regular season.
Boise State’s defense allowed just 101 total yards. It’s the fewest yards allowed by the Broncos since the 2015 Poinsettia Bowl, when Northern Illinois had just 33 yards. It’s just the fifth time in the last 20 years in which a Boise State opponent didn’t reach 105 total yards.
And the Broncos needed it thanks to an offense that racked up 427 yards but had just two touchdowns.
Hank Bachmeier completed just 11 of 22 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. George Holani rushed for 114 yards on 14 carries for his third straight 100-yard game, while Khalil Shakir had 116 receiving yards on seven catches in likely his final home game.
But it was the defense and special teams that stole the show.
Boise State took the lead before the offense even ran a play and never looked back. It was that kind of night.
Kekaula Kaniho blocked a punt on New Mexico’s first possession of the game, and Tyreque Jones picked it up and ran 6 yards into the end zone for an early 7-0 lead.
Jonah Dalmas connected on a 27-yard field goal late in the first quarter. The Broncos led 10-0 after the first 15 minutes despite only having 44 total yards. The reason? New Mexico only had five yards.
Boise State’s punt block team did it again in the second quarter. This time it was Alex Teubner who broke in and blocked the Aaron Rodriguez punt, and it was Timberline graduate Dylan Herberg who scooped it up and went 7 yards for another score.
It marked the first time since Boise State joined the FBS in 1996 in which the Broncos scored two touchdowns on blocked punts before reaching the end zone on offense.
The New Mexico offense entered the game last in the country in scoring at just 13.6 points per game. The Lobos ranked No. 129 of 130 teams in total yards at barely 250 per game. They didn’t come close to either of those on Saturday — thanks in part to a dominant effort by Boise State’s defense.
The Lobos had just 46 yards of offense in the first half. Of their 21 running plays, 10 of them went for no gain or a loss.
And a costly turnover late in the second quarter helped the Broncos deliver the knockout blow. Shane Irwin forced a fumble with a hit of quarterback Connor Genal, and JL Skinner scooped it up and returned it to the Bronco 44-yard line with 17 seconds left.
After an incomplete pass, Bachmeier heaved a perfect throw and hit Shakir in stride for a 56-yard touchdown on the final play of the half to send the Broncos into the locker room with a 24-0 lead.
Boise State’s offense struggled to do much in the second half, settling for two Dalmas field goals in the third quarter to lead 30-0 heading into the fourth.
But it didn’t matter thanks to New Mexico’s painfully-hard-to-watch offense and Boise State’s dominant defense. New Mexico had just 67 yards of offense entering the fourth quarter.
Jack Sears relieved Bachmeier in the fourth quarter and scored on a 1-yard rushing touchdown to give the Broncos a 37-0 lead.
The defense did the rest, preserving the first shutout in six years with a dominant effort.
BRONCOS PREPARING FOR SENIOR NIGHT ON THE BLUE
The Boise State football team is on the field at Albertsons Stadium and warming up to host New Mexico at 7 p.m. on FOX Sports 1 in the final home game of the season for the Broncos.
Boise State will honor 24 seniors before the game.
The Broncos were dealt a blow to their Mountain West title hopes late Friday night when Air Force won at Nevada, 41-39, in triple overtime. Boise State needed Air Force and Utah State to lose a game to have a shot to sneak back into the title picture.
Utah State hosts Wyoming later today and then plays at New Mexico next week, while Air Force hosts 2-9 UNLV in its final game. While still possible, it appears unlikely both Utah State and Air Force will lose, which would eliminate the Broncos from the Mountain Division race.
But it's not over yet, and the Broncos will look to send the seniors off with a home win. Boise State, since a 3-4 start, has won three straight games and appears to be playing its best football of the season.
The Broncos are favored by 27.5 points over the Lobos heading into this one.
This blog will be updated before, during and after the game, so check back often. For now, here's everything you need to know to get ready for kickoff...
POUND THE ROCK: The return of George Holani and a healthy, new-look offensive line has led to Boise State rushing for its best three totals of the season the past three games: 177 yards at Colorado State, 187 yards at Fresno State and 160 yards against Wyoming. The Lobos have trouble scoring, so Boise State should be in good shape if they can run the ball effectively and control the clock. Feeding Holani usually works well.
START FAST: Boise State needs to start fast and keep the pedal to the metal in this one. New Mexico came to Boise in 2015 and pulled off one of the greatest upsets in college football history as 30-point underdogs. The spread is only 24 in this one, but don’t let the Lobos hang around and get confidence. Score early, often and don’t let up. New Mexico struggles to score, so the Broncos have no business losing this game.
SENIOR SENDOFF: The Broncos will honor 24 seniors during a pregame ceremony including three - linebacker Riley Whimpey, nickel Kekaula Kaniho and wide receiver Khail Shakir - that will leave as some of the best ever to come through the program. They are team captains, leaders and very good football players. The Broncos have alreadly lost three home games. Not today. Win big and honor the seniors with a party on The Blue.
BOISE STATE PLAYERS TO WATCH
24 • GEORGE HOLANI • RB
The junior appears to finally be back to full health, and he’s proving to be a difference maker. Holani rushed for 102 yards in the win against Wyoming. He has back-to-back 100-yard games for the first time in his career and 20-plus carries in consecutive games for just the second time.
18 • BILLY BOWENS • WR
Bowens had the best game of his career last week against Wyoming, hauling in four catches for 36 yards. Bowens saw increased action due to injuries to both Octavius Evans and Stefan Cobbs. Coaches are high on Bowens and he’s likely to see more playing time again tonight.
99 • SCOTT MATLOCK • DL
The Homedale native had just two career sacks prior to 2021 but has rattled off seven sacks in 10 games this season. The defensive tackle is sixth on the team in tackles with 39 and also has a team-high 8.5 tackles-for-loss. His breakout year has pushed him into All-Mountain West consideration.
NEW MEXICO PLAYERS TO WATCH
22 • AARON DUMAS • RB
The freshman rushed 23 times for 143 yards and a touchdown last week at Fresno State. He had 92 yards on 15 carries two weeks ago against UNLV. He’s the top weapon for the run-first New Mexico offense.
7 • TAVIAN COMBS • S
The safety leads New Mexico with two interceptions and also ranks second on the team with 68 tackles. He has two games with 11 tackles this season, and has proven to be a force for the Lobos.
98 • JOEY NOBLE • DE
The super senior is making the most of his extra year at New Mexico. He ranks second in the Mountain West with 15 tackles-for-loss, and is third on the team with 63 tackles.
STATS AND FACTS
• Boise State is 10-1 all-time against New Mexico.
• The Broncos will honor 24 seniors prior to the game. It’s possible some of them will return in 2022 as ‘super seniors.’
• Boise State is 20-1 in its last 21 games on Senior Night.
• The Broncos have at least nine bowl eligble teams on the schedule, tied for most in the country.
• Opponents have been called for 16 false starts in five home games at Albertsons Stadium.
• The Broncos have won 123 straight home games when leading after the third quarter. It’s the longest streak in the nation.
Boise State finally ended the three-game home losing skid last week against Wyoming. They should have no problem making it two straight on The Blue tonight.
Wyoming is the lowest-scoring team in the country at less than 14 points per game. They really struggle to score, and I can’t see them scoring two touchdowns against this Boise State defense.
It’s Senior Night on The Blue, and I expect a party. Boise State in a blowout.
Broncos 41, New Mexico 10