Boise State Gives Up Big Lead To UCF, Falls 36-31
Beoncos let lead slip away.
Boise State can’t hold lead
There has been a lot of talk about the big three things when it comes to playing football in Florida. Heat, Humidity, and throwing your pregame routine out the window because the game will not start when it was originally scheduled. Ok, I made that last one up, but it holds true for Boise State playing games in Florida. 801-520-8275
An almost three-hour weather delay is not something you want to see in a game that features a tempo offense. UCF, under former Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, relies heavily on setting a pace and keeping defenses on their heels. Alternating between coming onto the field and retreating to the locker room seemed to knock the Knights off their plan.
At first, it didn’t seem to be the case. UCF forced a punt on Boise State’s first drive and were steadily marching down the field. UCF Quarterback Dillion Gabriel moved the ball well and got the Knights to the Boise State 8-yard line before throwing the ball directly to Bronco cornerback Tyric LeBeauf who returned it to 100-yards for the first score of the game. Boise State’s defense kept Gabriel and the offense largely in check for the remainder of the first quarter, only allowing UCF to gain 7 yards over two drives.
The Bronco offence used their momentum to get out to a 14-0 first quarter lead. Quarterback Hank Bachmeier connected on 5 of 7 passes while Andrew Van Buren polished the drive off with a 3-yard run for the couchdown.
Boise State opened the scoring in the second quarter as well by capping off a 12 play, 73-yard drive with a Bachmeier third down pass to Khalil Shakir who broke a tackle behind the line to gain before powering into the endzone. UCF finally was able to respond by getting three big plays on their next drive. Dillion Gabriel and running back Isaiah Browner both broke 20-plus yard runs before Gabriel found an open Alec Holler heading to the endzone. Both offenses slowed, with exchanging of punts that was briefly interrupted by a 31-yard field goal by Boise State kicker Jonah Dalmas to increase the lead to 24-7
The final UCF drive of the half was an ample opportunity for the Knights to get on the board before they received the second-half kickoff. Down 17 points the Knights were able to capitalize again on a few big plays that moved them quickly down the field. Gabriel was again able to cut into the Bronco lead with a touchdown pass, this time to Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, to close the score to 24-14.
The Knights were able to keep their momentum by putting together an 8 play, 84-yard drive. In a change of pace, most of their drive was on the ground, but a big pass play for 47-yard is what got the Knights deep into Bronco territory. Dillion Gabriel threw for yet another touchdown, this one to Brandon Johnson, to close the Boise State lead to 24-21.
All out effort 😤 pic.twitter.com/0M3JaxnXxu
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 3, 2021
This is where the wheels looked like they were about to fall off. Boise State’s next three drives were for -7 yards, a fumble, followed by an errant snap over punter Joel Velazquez’ head for a safety. Between the fumble and the safety, UCF was able to cap off a 10-play, 78-yard drive with a Gabriel to Jaylon Johnson touchdown pass to take a 28-24 lead that was stretched to 30-24 after the safety.
The Bronco defense began to battle back and came up with some big plays, getting a turnover on downs followed by another huge interception by Tyric LeBeauf who returned it to the UCF 31-yardline. Hank Bachmeier was able to complete two passes to Khallil Shakir for 24 and 7 yards for the touchdown to pull Boise State back ahead 31-30 after Jonah Dalmas’ converted the extra point.
The Knights were able to respond with some help from a, very correct, targeting call on Kekaula Kaniho after a 22-yard pass play to move UCF deep into Bronco territory. Eventually running back Isaiah Bowser was able to dive in for the touchdown. The score stayed at 36-31 with UCF unable to convert on the 2-point attempt due to JL Skinner stopping Gabriel with a huge hit to keep him out of the endzone.
Being down by 5, the Broncos finally put together a solid drive and moved their way down to the UCF 35-yardline. With a 3rd and 4, Bachmeier rolled out of the pocket and had room to rush for the first down but instead lofted the ball short of his intended receiver and it was picked off on the 7 yard line, effectively ending their chance to take the lead.
Player of the game:
Tyric LeBeauf with 2 interceptions and a 100-yard return for a touchdown.
The Broncos came out on a relatively fast start, which is uncommon for them over the past few years. They have mostly relied on a strong second half to close out games. The first half the offensive line kept Bachmeier clean and he had time to go through his reads. Somehow that largely went away in the second half and the offensive line was unable to give Bachmeier the time he needed or to open running lanes.
Short offensive drives combined with the uptempo pace from the UCF offense, the defense just got tired in the end. It was also surprising that Khalil Shakir was not more involved in the game, finishing the game with only 6 touches.
There were a lot of good things and a lot of bad things in this game. I don’t remember ever being so excited about how a game was going and so frustrated at the same time. The Broncos need to have a good showing against UTEP to avoid a considerable amount of pressure being thrust onto Coach Avalos.
Boise State returns for their home opener against former WAC opponent UTEP at 7:30 pm.