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Boise State comes out of bye week swinging with ‘impressive’ win over Wyoming

George Holani was one of the final players off the field Saturday after Boise State’s 32-7 win over Wyoming at Albertsons Stadium.

The redshirt senior is rightfully relishing every second he has left with the Broncos.

Playing in his first game since he was injured in Boise State’s season opener at Washington, Holani rushed for 75 yards on 20 carries. He was originally supposed to have a limited snap count, but ended up playing more after sophomore Ashton Jeanty went out with a lower-body injury.

“It hasn’t been easy obviously for him, but to see him do what he did tonight,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said, “I’m gonna be 100 percent honest with you guys, he wasn’t on land running, really, until last week.”

While Holani made his much-anticipated return to the Boise State lineup, it was a trio of true freshmen and a stellar Boise State defense that catapulted the Broncos (4-4, 3-1) to their third Mountain West win of the season.

Running back Jambres Dubar and wide receiver Prince Strachan each scored their first career touchdowns. Dubar broke free on a 2-yard run with 2:04 left until halftime, and Strachan caught a 6-yard TD pass in the end zone with 1:44 remaining in the third.

“(Dubar’s) done a lot this year, and for him to get in for the first time is big time,” Avalos said. “There’s a lot of guys on offense that are very capable. We will continue to find ways as guys show that they’re going to be consistent. They’re going to show up every day with a great attitude, then we’re gonna find ways to get them the ball.”

Meanwhile, Boise State freshman safety Ty Benefield grabbed his first career interception, picking off Wyoming quarterback Andrew Peasley on Wyoming’s third drive of the game. The Boise State defense limited the Cowboys to a season-low 112 total yards, including just 27 on the ground. Wyoming entered the game averaging 164.4 rushing yards per game.

“I mean, we had a good game plan going in,” said Boise State linebacker Andrew Simpson, who led the Broncos with six tackles, including three for loss. “We knew that they’re a physical team, so if we wanted to play, we had to punch first and just maintain it throughout the whole four quarters of the game and eventually they’d quit if we do that.”

The Broncos scored on their opening drive for just the second time this season, as redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylen Green directed a five-play, 74-yard drive that was capped off by a 49-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore receiver Eric McAlister. Reserve quarterback Colt Fulton then came in and completed a two-point conversion pass to tight end Matt Lauter to give Boise State an 8-0 lead with 10:28 on the clock in the first quarter.

McAlister totaled 160 receiving yards on seven catches, marking his third 100-plus-yard receiving game of the season. He leads the Broncos with 788 receiving yards on the season with five TDs.

“He’s a hell of a player,” Holani said of McAlister. “I’m excited to see him grow and just continue to see what he brings to the table for this team, because he does a lot of great things.”

Wyoming’s only score of the game came on the tail end of a muffed punt return by Boise State’s Stefan Cobbs. The Cowboys scored a play later on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Peasley to tight end John Michael Gyllenborg to make it 8-7 with 1:46 to play in the first quarter.

But aside from that touchdown pass, the Broncos limited the Cowboys to 1-for-11 on third down and registered a season-high-tying seven tackles for loss, including sacks by Simpson and defensive end Ahmed Hassanein. Outside of their one-play touchdown drive, the Cowboys averaged only 7.5 yards gained per drive and ended up punting a season-high nine times.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than for guys to go all in and do more, and then have the type of success they had tonight,” Avalos said. “I’ve coached defense here at Boise State for a while now, and those are probably some of the more impressive numbers we’ve ever had in a single game.”

Jeanty leaves with injury

Standout sophomore running back Ashton Jeanty exited in the second quarter of Boise State’s win and did not return.

A Boise State spokesperson said Jeanty sustained a lower-body injury. He finished with six carries for 53 yards.

Jeanty entered Saturday’s game leading the nation in total points scored (90), yards after contact (604), missed tackles caused (71) and first downs recorded (66). His 180.6 all-purpose yards per game was also tops in the country.

“Ashton had to leave the game, so we will have to get a further evaluation on that and see what that looks like,” Avalos said. “But up front, we don’t believe that it’s anything that’s going to be keeping him out too long.”

Boise State without two starters

The Broncos played without a pair of starters against Wyoming.

Cornerback Markel Reed and edge rusher Demitri Washington sat out with undisclosed injuries, Boise State announced a little before kickoff. Reed and Washington have both been out since the Broncos’ win over San Jose State on Oct. 7.

Redshirt freshman Jayden Virgin started in place of Washington, totaling a season-high five tackles, including one for loss.

Backup edge rushers Tyler Wegis and Cortez Hogans, wide receiver Shea Whiting and linebacker Dishawn Misa were also out Saturday.

QUICK HITS

The Broncos wore orange jerseys, orange pants and orange helmets. … Team captains DJ Schramm and Riley Smith were joined by center Garrett Curran and defensive tackle Braxton Fely as game captains. … Boise State won the coin toss and elected to defer. … Boise State was led onto the field by cornerback Kaonohi Kaniho, who carried the Dan Paul Hammer. … Edge Jayden Virgin carried the American flag and left guard Mason Randolph carried the Bleed Blue flag. … Former All-American and 2010 first-round NFL Draft pick Kyle Wilson raised the Blue Chaos flag before kickoff. … The game’s official attendance was 35,189, marking the first time in Boise State history that the first four home games have had over 35,000 fans. It also marks the third time in Boise State history that there have been four games in a season with over 35,000 in attendance.