Fresno State Football

Fresno State thumped by Boise State in Mountain West title game

These are the games that end up feeling like a blur for Fresno State.

In this case, one big, blue blur.

Rather than rising to the challenge and coming away with a defining moment and a colossal upset, Fresno State left Boise State with another loss added to its lengthy string of defeats on the Broncos' blue turf.

Fresno State missed tackles and whiffed on other attempts in key moments, the Bulldogs' running game was shut down and quarterback Brian Burrell committed three turnovers as Boise State captured the Mountain West championship Saturday with a 28-14 victory.

"I really couldn't tell you what happened," Burrell said. "They're a good defense, a physical defense and they played well. They're a good team."

Fresno State fell to 1-8 all-time at Boise State. The only victory came in 1984.

Fresno State played a closer game in the team's regular-season meeting in October, never trailing by more than 10 points and entering the final quarter tied before falling 37-27 in Boise.

But the Bulldogs (6-7) could not tackle or run with the same success it had the first time.

Broncos quarterback Grant Hedrick was named the game's offensive MVP after rushing for 81 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries. He also completed 9 of 16 passes for 155 yards and didn't commit a turnover before the announced crowd of 26,101 at Albertson's Stadium.

Broncos runnning back Jay Ajayi totaled 70 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries. It was 64.9 yards below his season average entering the game but the Doak Walker award semifinalist did enough damage in the first half to help Boise State take a 21-0 lead into the break.

And the Bulldogs couldn't keep up or even play keep-away from the Broncos' offense as their running game never got going and was shut down on early downs. Fresno State mustered just 70 rushing yards for 1.7 yards per carry.

In Fresno State's October outing against Boise State, running back Marteze Waller piled on 164 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 18 carries. But on Saturday he was held to 23 yards on 15 carries before leaving the game with an injured shoulder.

Backup Josh Quezada wasn't any more successful, gaining 38 yards and scoring a touchdown on 15 carries.

"Marteze has been a big part of our game plan," Bulldogs coach Tim DeRuyter said. "Their defense, give them credit, they beat blocks. Marteze was banged up a little bit. But it was more Boise out-executing us.

"Clearly when you can't get the run game established and get into more manageable second and third downs, it puts a lot of strain on you. We had to convert a lot of third-and-longs. I liked our effort on those. But you know, you keep gambling on third-and-long, eventually you're not going to hit those. They stoned us in the run game, and that was a big factor in the game."

That left Fresno State relying on Burrell and he started fairly well, completing 16 of his first 21 passes for 196 yards. But Burrell threw three interceptions, including one that linebacker Tanner Vallejo returned 63 yards for a touchdown that extended Boise State's lead to 14-0.

"The three interceptions hurt my team," Burrell said. "At least one of those was a horrible decision on my part. I set the protection the wrong way, so they had a free guy coming. Then instead of trying to get some yards, I just threw the ball, which I thought was one-on-one coverage. I didn't see the guy."

Burrell finished 30 of 45 for 332 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked four times.

The Broncos went ahead 21-0 after Ajayi capped an 11-play, 72-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run with 9:03 left in the first half. The Broncos made it 28-0 on a 21-yard run by Hedrick on the first drive of the second half.

After Quezada's 2-yard touchdown run capped a 19-play, 96-yard drive for Fresno State's first score with 3:18 left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs pulled within two touchdowns on Burrell's 25-yard touchdown pass to Greg Watson that made it 28-14 with 5:31 left.

The Bulldogs recovered the ensuing onside kick at the Boise State 41-yard line, but a chop-block penalty and sack backed them up. On fourth-and-12, Burrell heaved a pass intended for Aaron Peck that was broken up.

Burrell then was picked on the Bulldogs' next drive.

Fresno State, which had its three-game winning streak snapped, enters postseason play 6-7 and has already earned a bowl bid as the conference's West Divisional champ. The Bulldogs will learn of their bowl destination Sunday afternoon.

Boise State extended its win streak to eight and is expected to finish as the top-ranked team among the Group of 5 and receive a bid to a New Year's Six Bowl with the likely destination being the Fiesta Bowl.

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