THIS DAY IN SPORTS: An all-out track meet at Mackay


This Day In Sports…October 4, 2014:

In the final game before a two-year hiatus in their long rivalry, Boise State and Nevada produce a classic. The Broncos, despite rolling up 570 yards of offense and picking off four Cody Fajardo passes on defense, had to hang on for a wild 51-46 win at sold-out Mackay Stadium. The over/under on the game was 52 points, and the one-time Big Sky foes combined for 97. The eventual difference-maker was Boise State running back Jay Ajayi, who picked up 100 of his 152 rushing yards on just two carries—a 26-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and a 74-yard dash to set up the Broncos’ final TD in the fourth.  

It was the Broncos’ first full game without wideout Matt Miller, whose senior year ended with a knee injury the previous week. To replace Miller, now Boise State’s wide receivers coach, the Broncos burned Jeremy McNichols’ redshirt year. McNichols originally contributed as a wide receiver, making four catches for 54 yards in the game, but when he peeled off a 28-yard run on a reverse, it became apparent that the best fit for him might be at running back. McNichols went on to become one of Boise State’s best.

This was also Boise State’s first game following an epic stubbing of the toe at Air Force, a 28-14 loss that included seven Broncos turnovers. The outcry was significant, with lots of folks suggesting that the team’s Golden Era was over. Quarterback Grant Hedrick was under the microscope. Hedrick had to bounce back from a mess at Air Force, and he did. His completion percentage went from 55 percent to 84, his yards per attempt from 6.3 to an impressive 11.2 as he threw for 346 yards, and his interceptions from an infamous four in Colorado Springs to one. 

We know what happened from there. Boise State did not lose again in 2014, scoring 50 or more points again four times and 60 or more twice. The Broncos finally got back into the rankings at the end of November and wrapped up coach Bryan Harsin’s first season with a Mountain West championship—and a 38-30 win over Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve.  

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)


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