Blocked FG helps save Boise State's perfect season in 2OT win
Nov. 13, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- When San Jose State lined up for a 30-yard field goal that probably would have ended Boise State's winning streak, Gerald Alexander figured the Broncos had used up all their lucky breaks.
He would have to do something extraordinary -- and the cornerback's block was the biggest of several plays that barely kept Boise State unbeaten.
Jon Helmandollar scored his third touchdown in the second overtime, and the 14th-ranked Broncos extended the nation's longest winning streak to 20 games with a wild 56-49 victory Saturday.
Jared Zabransky passed for 200 yards and scored one of eight rushing touchdowns by the Broncos (9-0, 6-0 WAC), whose Bowl Championship Series dreams got a reality check when they were mostly outplayed by one of their league's worst teams.
The Spartans (2-7, 1-5) probably would have won it with that final boot from their solid kicker, Jeff Carr, with 1:07 left in regulation -- but Alexander still believed.
"I have great confidence that I can get up and get a ball in a situation like that," Alexander said. "I was out the previous play, so I had time to rest up. I had a feeling I was going to try to block it."
Boise State's defensive line, after getting dominated for much of the afternoon, got a strong push up front -- and Alexander got his hand on the ball, sending the game to overtime with that last defensive stand.
"I totally had faith our guys would figure it out," said coach Dan Hawkins, whose team committed 14 penalties for 118 yards. "I totally believe in our special teams, and I thought they would come up with a play."
Lance Martin's 1-yard dive capped San Jose State's tying drive with 4:42 left in regulation, and they rallied for another lengthy drive. But the Spartans couldn't believe Carr's kick was blocked.
"I just knew we had it," Martin said. "Carr, he's money. You just knew it was going to be time to tear down the goalposts. When it got blocked, I was just shattered."
Martin rushed for 112 yards, including a 16-yard score on San Jose State's first overtime possession. Lee Marks, who finished with 140 yards rushing, replied with a 12-yard TD run for Boise State.
After Helmandollar's 1-yard scoring rush in the second overtime, cornerback Gabe Franklin drove San Jose State quarterback Adam Tafralis out of bounds at the 4 on a fourth-down option play. The Broncos celebrated with the orange-clad fans behind their bench.
The jubilation probably won't last long: Boise State rushed for 280 yards, but also revealed significant flaws in its defense, special teams and discipline that couldn't be blamed on a 9 a.m. start.
"We just made some careless errors," Marks said. "It could have happened if we had played at 7 o'clock at night."
The Spartans lost their fifth straight and allowed at least 36 points for the seventh time this season, but they played well enough to please coach Fitz Hill.
"They wanted to stand up today for some respect, and they earned that," Hill said. "This season has been one that has been strengthening our soul."
Dale Rogers passed for 149 yards and rushed for two scores for the Spartans, who nearly knocked off Boise State with a big-play offense, two interchangeable quarterbacks and a touchdown on a fake field goal. Rufus Skillern caught 10 passes for 167 yards, including a 79-yard TD catch.
There appeared to be less than 5,000 fans in the stands for the earliest game in Spartan Stadium's history to accommodate a national television broadcast. San Jose State mascot Sparty wore pajamas and a bathrobe.
And the Broncos' defense definitely missed a wakeup call. San Jose State took a 14-7 lead in the first quarter with Rogers' 69-yard TD pass to Tyson Thompson and Tafralis' long throw to Skillern, both helped by big mistakes in the secondary.
The Spartans led 35-28 midway through the third quarter after third-string quarterback Beau Pierce rushed for an 8-yard score on a fake field goal, and Bobby Godinez blocked a punt to set up Rogers' 1-yard TD dive.
But the Broncos scored two touchdowns in 90 seconds, taking the lead on Helmandollar's 3-yard run late in the quarter.
Linebacker Korey Hall was ejected with 7:29 left for kicking a San Jose State lineman in the head, capping the Broncos' undisciplined play with a penalty that aided the Spartans' tying drive.
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved