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Boise Edges UNT in Frisco Bowl

Sports

Boise State quarterback Taylen Green (10) evades pressure in the first half of the Broncos’ 35-32 win over North Texas in the Frisco Bowl on Saturday. Green threw for 137 yards and a touchdown and added 119 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. | Image by LM OTERO, AP

FRISCO – Boise State came from behind to defeat the University of North Texas in the 2022 Frisco Bowl on Saturday night at Toyota Stadium.

North Texas (7-7) held a 10-6 lead at halftime, but Boise State (10-4) seized control in the second half with its running game.

“There were things we knew we could do better at halftime,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos told reporters after the game. “We were able to identify some formations… where we could keep leverage on the fronts we were getting. And then obviously we’d be able to put them into positions to take advantage of the space on the perimeter whether it was with his [QB] arm or his legs.

“Defensively we were resilient. We came into the game with not a ton of depth due to injury but it was awesome to see how certain guys stepped up. ”

That quarterback, Lewisville High School alumnus Taylen Green, ended up with 137 yards and a touchdown on 13-of-22 passing, ran for a career-high 119 yards and two touchdowns. He was the first freshman to win Offensive Most Valuable Player in Frisco Bowl history.

Former Frisco Lone Star High School standout Ashton Jeanty had 179 rushing yards for Boise State, breaking both the Boise State bowl game record and the Frisco Bowl mark set by former Ohio University running back AJ Oullette in 2018.

Boise State senior linebacker Ezekiel Noa was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player with six tackles (one tackle for loss) and an interception that could have been a touchdown had he not tripped in the open field.

North Texas running back Ikaika Ragsdale led the Mean Green with 94 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while tight end Jake Roberts and wide receiver Jyaire Shorter each hauled in touchdown passes.

North Texas had a chance to drive for a tying field goal or winning touchdown with 1:20 left in the game, but quarterback Austin Aune’s fourth down pass fell incomplete as the Boise State defense forced a turnover on downs.

WHAT TO KNOW

This was Boise State’s first time actually playing in a bowl game since 2019 because its bowl games were cancelled in both 2020 and 2021.  Despite not playing those bowl games, the Broncos have reached bowl eligibility in 25 consecutive seasons.

Boise State also has 13 players on its roster from Texas, many of whom played key roles in this game, including Green, Jeanty, defensive end Gabe Hunter, and wide receivers Stefan Cobbs, Eric McAllister, and Lattrell Caples.

The Broncos also played without several key players and saw many backups step up. Jeanty had his big night after starting running back George Holani suffered an injury, and safety Alex Teubner led the team in tackles while filling in for star safety JL Skinner.

“No matter what situations go on, good or bad, we always have to stay neutral and just keep playing our game [on the defensive side],” Noa said. “We knew that when we do that, we could be unstoppable.”

North Texas offensive lineman Manase Mose set a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) record by making his 62nd consecutive start on Saturday night.

This is the smallest margin of victory in the Frisco Bowl since its inception in 2017.

BY THE NUMBERS

Boise State’s rushing offense came into the game rushing ranks and set a new Frisco Bowl team record with 318 rushing yards. The previous record had been held by Kent State with 252 yards in 2019.

The Broncos also set program records for rushing yards in a bowl game and points in a quarter, scoring 22 during the third quarter on Saturday night.

North Texas came into this game ranked in the top 30 in the FBS in rushing offense (201.7 yards per game) and total offense (463.8 yards per game).  The Mean Green finished a little shy of their season averages in those categories on Saturday night with 176 rushing yards and 435 total yards. However, the 435 total yards were a new bowl game record for the program.

North Texas drops to 0-7 in bowl games since winning the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl and 3-11 all-time in bowl games.

WHO SAID

The win helps Boise State reach the 10-win threshold for the seventh time in the last 10 years but the first time since 2019.

“It’s so gratifying to be able to see these guys celebrate,” said Avalos. “It’s hard to leave the locker room right now and being around the guys just because they deserve this. Like we just told them, there’s so many great young men in there and it’s about how cool this is, how big of an achievement this is. They are such great young men and they are going to do even better things in their lives, for the ones that are moving on. “

Despite the loss, North Texas interim head coach Phil Bennett was mostly pleased with how his team played.

“I thought they played with a purpose. I always tell them, ‘practice with a purpose, play with a purpose.’ I think that on both sides we had some missed opportunities to get off of the field… Offensively we had the chance a couple of times on a couple of picks that turned 10 points and that could have really made the difference in the game. It wasn’t just one side, it was both of them. But, I thought the guys really did play hard. I think they were in tune with  what we were trying to do.”

NEXT UP

Both teams head into the offseason. Boise State will bid farewell to offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and bring Bush Hamdan in to replace him as it tries to re-emerge as the premier program in the Mountain West Conference.

North Texas will introduce new head coach Eric Morris at a press conference in Denton on Tuesday and will join the American Athletic Conference in July.

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