Boise State never loses at Bronco Stadium, no matter what sideline Chris Petersen paces. The 23rd-ranked Broncos survived a visit from their former coach and his Washington Huskies, 16-13, on Friday night.
Boise State held a commanding yet far-too-close 16-0 lead at halftime, holding the Huskies to 58 yards of total offense yet keeping the visitors in the game thanks to a turnover on downs and an interception in Washington territory.
Inevitably, the Huskies crawled back in the game in the second half… somehow. Cameron Van Winkle put Washington on the scoreboard with a 40-yard field goal with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter, and then Dane Pettis pulled the club within six on a 76-yard punt return less than 90 seconds later.
Van Winkle knocked in a 28-yarder midway through the fourth and had a chance to send the game to overtime, but his 46-yard try at the 21-second mark sailed wide right.
Washington remained in the game despite an offense that failed to get anything going nearly the entire night. The Huskies gained only 179 yards on the entire night – they did not have a play travel farther than 13 yards from scrimmage until their final possession – including a 185-29 deficit on the ground. True freshman Jake Browning earned the start (the first true freshman to ever start an opening game for a Petersen-coached team) and played all but a few snaps; he displayed poise beyond what showed up on the box sheet, completing 20-of-34 passes for 150 yards with an interception.
Browning did, however, take a sack when Washington had marched to the Boise State 29 on the game’s final drive that cost the Huskies their final timeout and 10 yards Van Winkle could have used on his fateful miss.
Boise State also played a first-time starter at quarterback – and he wasn’t much better than Browning. Sophomore Ryan Finley hit on 16-of-26 passes for a pedestrian 129 yards and an interception. Jeremy McNichols led all rushers with 24 carries for 89 yards and both of the Broncos’ touchdowns, but gained only 19 yards on his 10 second half carries. The Broncos gained only 100 yards of offense in the second half (excluding the final time-killing possession), saw two of its seven possessions lose yardage, and watched its most promising drive, a 43-yard jaunt, end in a Kelsey Young fumble at the Washington 32.
In all, Boise State committed two turnovers and got stuffed on a 4th-and-1 inside Washington territory. Those are the types of mistakes required to keep a team that averages just 3.14 yards per play and does not score an offensive touchdown in the game down to its final snap. And, ironically enough, they’re the types of mistakes Boise State did not make when Coach Pete was on the home sideline, not the visitor’s.