BOISE, Idaho — The Broncos made the most of the minutes around halftime.
Nearly halfway through Friday’s non-conference football game at Albertsons Stadium, the Marshall University football team was ahead of No. 24 Boise State by a touchdown. The Broncos, however, tied the game with 10 seconds left in the first half, then scored the go-ahead touchdown just 1:33 into the second, and BSU held on for the 14-7 victory.
Marshall (1-1) committed the games first turnover, fumbling the ball away on its own 33 with 4:16 left in the opening period. The Thundering Herd defense allowed Boise State (2-0) one yard over three plays, and the Broncos came up short on a 49-yard field goal attempt.
The guests took advantage of the missed kick, traveling 68 yards in five plays and 1:55, with Brenden Knox delivering the touchdown run from six yards out. Justin Rohrwasser’s extra-point kick gave Marshall a 7-0 lead with 55 seconds left in the opening quarter.
MU punted on its next two possessions in the first half, the second of which gave BSU the ball at their own 12-yard line and 3:53 left.
The Broncos used all-but 10 seconds to cover the 88 yards in nine plays, with freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier converting a third-and-11 with his legs, then finding Khalil Shakir for a 45-yard pass to the MU two, and finally punching in for the touchdown from a yard out. Joel Velazquez made his first of two point-after kicks, tying the game at seven headed into the half.
The Broncos began the second half on their own 28-yard line, but were in Herd territory after the first play from scrimmage, as Bachmeier completed a 24-yard pass to Garrett Collingham. Three plays later, Bachmeier found John Hightower for a 47-yard touchdown pass, giving the hosts a 14-7 edge with 13:27 left in the third quarter.
The Thundering Herd only made it to the BSU side of the field once in the second half, and were stopped 46 yards from paydirt.
Marshall’s defense found a variety of ways to keep the Broncos from adding on, stopping them on fourth down, recovering a fumble, intercepting a pass and forcing a punt. Boise State sealed the 14-7 victory with the game’s final drive, covering 67 yards in 15 plays and draining the remaining 7:36 off the clock.
Following the setback, Marshall head coach Doc Holliday commended his team’s defense, but admitted the Broncos did more to win the game.
“I’m proud of the way we played, unfortunately we didn’t find a way to get it done there at the end,” said Holliday. “They made a couple more plays then we did, we got to go back and get better as a team because we got a lot of great challenges ahead of us as a team.
“There’s no question that our defense played well. Offensively we have to make more plays, we had a couple turnovers we shouldn’t of had. Boise’s an excellent football team and I think we’re a good football team as well. It was a battle, but unfortunately they just made more plays.”
For the game, Boise State held a 22-to-9 advantage in first downs, and a 437-to-172 edge in total offense, including 282-to-56 through the air. Both teams committed two turnovers in the contest.
Isaiah Green completed 10-of-17 passes for 56 yards in the setback. Knox led the Thundering Herd on the ground with 71 yards and a touchdown on 10 tries. Tyler King and Willie Johnson ran for 16 yards each on five and two carries respectively, with King catching two passes for four yards and Johnson hauling in one pass for seven.
Xavier Gaines — who carried the ball twice and earned 14 yards — led the MU receiving unit with three grabs for 26 yards. Artie Henry caught two passes for 14, while Talik Keaton and Devin Miller each had a three-yard reception.
Leading the Marshall defense, Tavante Beckett and Brandon Drayton had 13 tackles apiece. Marquis Couch and Fermin Silva each had a sack in the setback, Silva and Omari Cobb both forced a fumble, while Sam Burton recovered a fumble and Cobb had the team’s only interception.
Bachmeier completed 22-of-34 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown, while rushing seven times for a net gain of 26 yards and another score. George Holani led all-rushers with 103 yards on 22 attempts, while Shakir had a game-best 95 yards on five receptions.
Ezekiel Noa led the hosts on defense with seven tackles, while Curtis Weaver and Riley Whimpey each had a sack. With takeaways for BSU, Kekaula Kaniho intercepted a pass and Tyreque Jones recovered a fumble.
Next for the Thundering Herd, the Battle for the Bell returns to Huntington, as Ohio visits at 6:30 on Saturday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.