Published November 20, 2014
Once again, Boise State hit the jackpot in Vegas.
Michael Frisina's third field goal of the day, a 27-yarder with 1:16 left to play, gave the 20th-ranked Broncos a third consecutive victory in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas with a hard-earned 28-26 decision over Washington at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Boise State (11-2) also got a strong performance from quarterback Joe Southwick in extending its overall winning streak in bowl games to four straight, with the first-year starter completing 26-of-38 passes for 264 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He fired one to freshman tight end Holden Huff, who finished with two scores on the day.
The Broncos' defense, meanwhile, allowed a career day to Washington running back Bishop Sankey, but came through with a big play at the end, with Jeremy Iaone intercepting the Huskies' Keith Price with 14 seconds remaining to end any comeback hopes.
"We did a great job down the stretch," said Southwick. "We knew it was going to be a four-quarter game, we knew it was going to take all four quarters to beat this team. We were able to take care of business."
Washington (7-6) rallied from a 15-point first-half deficit to take a 26-25 lead on a Travis Coons field goal with 4:09 to go, but wound up denied a first eight-win campaign since 2001 despite Sankey's personal-best 205 rushing yards along with a touchdown on 30 carries. He added another 74 yards on six receptions.
Price finished with 242 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-39 efficiency while also running for a score, but was intercepted twice as the Huskies ended their season with a second straight defeat.
The Huskies played from behind for virtually the entire game, but grabbed their first lead of the afternoon after Price and Sankey led a 14-play, 76- yard drive that consumed nearly half of the fourth-quarter clock. A 16-yard pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins on 3rd-and-6 kept the chains moving before Sankey broke off a 12-yard run followed by another first down to put Washington in scoring range.
Coons, who misfired from 41 yards out on the Huskies' previous possession, made good from 38 yards away to give UW a 26-25 edge with just over four minutes left.
Shane Williams-Rhodes would give the Broncos excellent field position by taking the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to the Washington 42. Shortly after Southwick converted a 4th-and-1 with a sneak, he found Geraldo Boldewijn for 13 yards to place the ball at the enemy 12 with under two minutes to play.
The Broncos took one shot at the end zone before forcing Washington to call its final two time outs and bringing on Frisina, who split the uprights on a 27-yard try to move Boise back in front.
"I had a talk with coach [Chris Petersen] earlier, and he wanted to make sure I was ready, I was prepared, because I think this is going to come down to a couple of kicks," said Frisina. "As it turned out, it did."
Iaone then sealed the victory by stepping in front of a UW receiver and picking off Price's down-the-middle heave with time winding down.
"We've got to finish in the fourth quarter," Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian lamented afterward. "You look at the last two ball games we've played (including a 31-28 loss to Washington State), those are tough ones to swallow because we could easily be sitting here being a 9-4 football team. Unfortunately, we found a way not to win those football games."
After the teams traded field goals for the only scoring of the initial 10 minutes, Boise State ran off 15 straight points to claim an 18-3 advantage late in the first half.
Southwick made good on 5-of-6 throws in marching the Broncos 79 yards in 14 plays near the end of the first quarter, capping the series with a 16-yard strike to Boldewijn with 15 seconds left in the period to snap a 3-3 tie. Frisina's extra-point try was blocked.
Price was intercepted by Jamar Taylor early in the second quarter, and the Broncos would cash in on Frisina's 30-yard field goal that extended the margin to 12-3. A pair of Southwick completions, a 16-yarder to Chris Potter and a 19-yard delivery to Boldewijn, helped set up the kick.
Boise State would use some creativity to reach the end zone on its next touch, as Potter took a reverse before firing a pass downfield to Huff for a 34-yard score with 5:25 remaining before intermission. The Broncos' Matt Miller was stopped just short of the goal line by a pair of Washington defenders from the Wildcat formation on the subsequent 2-point attempt, keeping the difference at 15 points.
Washington needed just 43 seconds to answer, however, as Price and Kasen Williams hooked up for a 39-yard passing play on the next snap from scrimmage and Sankey ripped off a 26-yard touchdown run two plays later to pull the Huskies within 18-10.
Sankey delivered another big play before the conclusion of the half, taking a screen pass 42 yards to the Boise 17 with under a minute left. Price would wrap up the 63-yard sequence with a touchdown with little time to spare, crossing the goal line on a 7-yard scramble with only three seconds showing to cut the Broncos' lead to one.
Both teams would put together sustained drives that culminated in touchdowns to begin the second half.
Boise embarked on a 15-play, 74-yard jaunt to start things off, highlighted by a pair of fourth-down conversions that maintained possession.
The second -- a successful sneak by Southwick on 4th-and-1 -- came immediately after the heady quarterback scrambled for 17 yards on 3rd-and-18. He would make a clutch throw later on in the series, hitting Huff over the middle from one yard out for a 25-17 lead midway through the third quarter.
Price answered by directing a 12-play, 75-yard march in which he made good on a pair of critical third-down completions. He first found Sankey for a 16-yard gain on 3rd-and-10, then hit Williams deep for 24 yards on 3rd-and-11 to move Washington to the Broncos' 12.
On another third-down play, Price's 6-yard bullet to Seferian-Jenkins closed the Huskies within 25-23 with 2:28 left in the third quarter, as the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
The Broncos played without defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, the team's leader in sacks (9.5) and a first-team All-Mountain West selection, after he was sent home on Thursday for an undisclosed violation of team rules ... Sankey's previous career high for rushing yards was 156, which he set against Utah on Nov. 10 ... Boise State joined Brigham Young as the only programs to win the Las Vegas Bowl three times .... Washington has now lost four of its last five bowl games and is 3-9 over its last 12 such outings ... The Huskies finished with 205 rushing yards, compared to just 109 for Boise State.