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Boise State tops New Mexico 28-14 to win 18th straight conference opener

Boise State’s defense again carried the way, forcing two more turnovers and limiting New Mexico’s vaunted triple option offense to just 14 points. (Chris Bronson/IPT)

BOISE – The Broncos put a tough triple-overtime loss at Washington State behind them Thursday with a 28-14 win over New Mexico at Albertsons Stadium.

Boise State’s defense again carried the way, forcing two more turnovers and limiting New Mexico’s vaunted triple option offense to just 14 points.

The Broncos played without starting quarterback Brett Rypien, who missed the game due to an undisclosed injury. Backup Montell Cozart started and played well, completing 15 of 19 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. He also had nine rushes for a team-high 71 yards and another touchdown.

Boise State was outgained 277-264 in the game did enough to improve to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in Mountain West play.

“After last week’s game, coming off triple overtime and getting back late and turning around...our players grinded through it and they did a really good job,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.

“The goal this week was to finish and win the fourth quarter and we did that.”

The offensive star was tight end Jake Roh, who had three touchdowns – two receiving and one rushing – in his best game since 2015. Roh had four touchdowns in his first 40 career games, but three on Thursday.

Boise State’s offense had no turnovers for the first time this season, but struggled to run the ball. They had 127 rushing yards as a team, but 71 of those came from Cozart. The Broncos’ three running backs combined for just 56 yards on 19 carries.

The defense picked up the slack for a third straight game, creating two more turnovers and slowing down the option. After giving up 111 rushing yards in the first quarter, Boise State’s defense limited the Lobos to 87 rushing yards the next three quarters.

Leighton Vander Esch led the Broncos with 13 tackles and had a forced fumble, an interception and a pass break-up. DeAndre Pierce had 12 tackles and Tyson Maeva added 11 for the Broncos.

The announced attendance of 28,385 was the second-smallest regular season crowd since the 2006 season opener. The other was a late-night game against San Diego State in 2014 in which the temperature was in the single digits.

Boise State defensive end Chase Hatada was ejected for targeting late in the second quarter after a hit on New Mexico quarterback Lamar Jordan. Hatada led with his helmet and crushed Jordan in the chest as the New Mexico quarterback was throwing the ball away on third down. Jordan was helped back to the locker room and didn’t return.

New Mexico’s backup quarterback Tevaka Tuioti – who nearly led the Lobos to a big comeback the previous week against New Mexico State – didn’t make the trip to Boise due to an undisclosed injury.

Third stringer Coltin Gerhart entered and struggled, passing for just 67 yards and rushing for 49, as Boise State’s defense shut down the Lobos.

Boise State returns to Albertsons Stadium a week from Friday when they host Virginia at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.

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