In last-second loss to UCF on field goal on The Blue, Broncos saw good, bad and ugly

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Between starting quarterback Taylen Green leaving the game, the defense getting victimized by big plays again, the offense struggling to sustain drives and the team losing on the game’s final play, Boise State went through a lot Saturday night.

In the end, the Broncos lost their home opener and fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2005. They couldn’t protect a late 16-15 lead and saw UCF win 18-16 on a 40-yard field goal as time expired.

“It came down to the last play, and it didn’t go our way,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. “There’s nothing anybody’s going to say to make people feel better in that locker room.”

Starting quarterback Taylen Green left the game in the third quarter with what appeared to be a right leg injury, but Avalos said after the game that Green was suffering from cramps. Redshirt freshman Maddux Madsen replaced Green and threw a go-ahead 28-yard touchdown pass in the final minutes.

Despite giving up just 18 points, the Broncos surrendered over 500 total yards of offense a week after being shelled by Washington, mostly through its passing attack. UCF racked up 530 total yards, with a near-even split of 272 in the air and 258 on the ground.

“Washington and UCF are both top 10 offenses in the country,” sixth-year senior DJ Schramm said. “But that’s never an excuse for giving up 500 yards. But the way we played on the plus side of the 50 in the red zone today, I thought, was really good.”

Boise State cornerback Jaylen Clark screams midfield after the Bronco defense stopped UCF on 4th down in the red zone, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023.
Boise State cornerback Jaylen Clark screams midfield after the Bronco defense stopped UCF on 4th down in the red zone, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023.

The Broncos gave up just one touchdown and forced field goals on several UCF drives, and also had two interceptions in the red zone and one stop on downs. But they couldn’t halt the game-winning drive.

Avalos said he was mostly pleased with the defense, even though it yielded five plays of at least 20 yards in the air and forced just two punts. Seven of the Knights’ drives covered at least 45 yards.

Positives from the offense

Boise State managed 384 total yards and had just one turnover, and the Broncos had 22 first downs and ran more plays than UCF. But they punted five times and didn’t score in the second half until the Madsen-led drive with less than 2 minutes left.

Sophomore running back Ashton Jeanty continued his stellar start to the season, scoring Boise State’s first touchdown and finishing the night with 115 rushing yards and 97 receiving yards. The 212-yard performance came off the back of his 153 yards and two touchdowns against Washington last week.

“His ability to change direction and accelerate very quickly is pretty elite,” Avalos said. “And then from the standpoint of the way he runs, his low center of gravity, there’s not a lot to tackle, and he’s one of the strongest guys on the team.”

Jeanty put the Broncos’ first points on the board in the first quarter after pulling in a pass from Green before running down the hash marks and cutting inside for a 38-yard touchdown.

Green’s injury led the way for Madsen to get his first meaningful snaps as a Bronco. He threw seven times against Washington in the fourth quarter after the game was out of reach, but this was different.

His first couple of drives left a little to be desired, with two sacks and some missed throws. But with UCF leading 15-10, Madsen led the Broncos on a 12-play scoring drive that ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Stefan Cobbs.

Boise State wide receiver Stefan Cobbs scores a touchdown off of a pass from quarterback Maddux Madsen late in the 4th quarter against UCF in the Broncos’ home opener, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. The go-ahead touchdown wasn’t enough. The Knights kicked a field goal to win the game 18-16.
Boise State wide receiver Stefan Cobbs scores a touchdown off of a pass from quarterback Maddux Madsen late in the 4th quarter against UCF in the Broncos’ home opener, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. The go-ahead touchdown wasn’t enough. The Knights kicked a field goal to win the game 18-16.

“What you’re going to get from Maddux is a very consistent decision-making process,” Avalos said. “He’s going to work the progression. He’s going to make the decisions as he was instilled and taught, how he’s trained and prepared.”

A historic field goal

The lack of red zone offense resulted in a big night for kickers, with Boise State’s Jonah Dalmas and UCF’s Colton Boomer combining for three field goals of 50 yards or more.

Boomer was good from 50 and 55 yards — as well as the winning 40-yard kick — but it was Dalmas’ 56-yard field goal in the second quarter that made history.

“I’ve seen him take field goals from that exact spot on the field over and over,” Avalos said. “We’ve seen him kick that with about the same distance, and he made it work today, so it’s trusting a guy that is consistent every single day.”

Not only was it a career long for Dalmas, but it tied the longest field goal in Boise State history, which was previously held by Roberto Moran against UC Davis in 1985. The kick also tied for the longest field goal in college football this season, a mark Dalmas now shares with Iowa State’s Chase Contreraz.

Starting RB George Holani out

Boise State had to endure without one of its premier players against UCF.

Starting running back George Holani sat out with a lower-body injury he sustained in the season-opening loss at Washington, according to a Boise State spokesperson.

Joining Holani on the injury list were edge Cortez Hogans and offensive lineman Mason Randolph. Both players were out against Washington last week as well.

Holani missed all but one game in 2020 because of a knee injury, and he was in and out of the lineup with nagging injuries in 2021.

Quick hits

The Broncos wore blue jerseys, blue pants and blue helmets Saturday. ... Team captains DJ Schramm and Riley Smith were joined by center Garrett Curran and safety Alexander Teubner as game captains. ... UCF won the coin toss and elected to receive. ... Boise State was led on the field by linebacker Marco Notarainni, carrying the Dan Paul Hammer. ... Defensive tackle Michael Callahan carried the American flag and running back Ashton Jeanty the Bleed Blue flag. ... Former All-American running back Brock Forsey raised the Blue Chaos flag.