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No. 20 Boise State cruises past UNLV

No. 20 Boise State cruises past UNLV
Published On: Sat, Nov 19
Oct 31, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Boise Broncos running back Jeremy McNichols (13) breaks free for a large gain during a game against UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium. The Broncos won the game 55-27. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

BOISE, Idaho -- Star tailback Jeremy McNichols and No. 20 Boise State's high-powered rushing attack were too much for visiting UNLV in a Friday night Mountain West Conference clash.

McNichols carried 31 times for 206 yards and four touchdowns -- giving him an FBS-leading 26 scores on the season -- as the Broncos rolled to a 42-25 victory over the Rebels on the blue turf of Albertsons Stadium.

"I felt something special in the air tonight," McNichols said. "When you get in that groove, you feel like every touch can go the distance. I kind of felt like that tonight."

Boise State (10-1, 6-1) gave UNLV a rude welcome after the Rebels boosted the Broncos' New Year's Six bowl hopes with a triple-overtime win over Wyoming last week. Boise State currently is in position to earn a Group of Five bid to a major bowl, but the Broncos must first qualify for the MWC championship game, which will require one more loss by Wyoming.

"Our goal every year is to win the (MWC) championship," McNichols said. "(Winning it) two years ago was a special moment for us, and I feel like a lot of these guys still have that picture and that dream in their mind."

The Broncos did their part Friday, riding McNichols to a routine victory. The junior scored on runs of 6, 1, 4 and 31 yards as Boise State outgained UNLV 380-302 in total offense. It was McNichols' third career 200-yard game.

UNLV (4-7, 3-4) was eliminated from bowl eligibility with the loss. The Rebels close out the season next weekend against in-state rival Nevada.

"We're disappointed," said UNLV safety Troy Hawthorne. "I don't think there's really that big of a gap between us and (Boise State), but they executed better. They know how to put some runs together, and sometimes we struggle with that."

Junior quarterback Kurt Palandech led the Rebels with 177 total yards (64 rushing, 113 passing) and accounted for all three UNLV touchdowns. The Rebels didn't turn the ball over, but they struggled to move the chains consistently, going 6-for-15 on third down.

"They did a good job containing us all night," Palandech said. "I give them a lot of respect. They have a good scheme, and they're a good defense."

Added Boise State linebacker Darren Lee, who led the Broncos with 11 tackles: "This team is scrappy, resilient and tough. We bow, but we don't break."

Boise State overcame some shaky ball handling and an off night from sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien. The Broncos committed four fumbles, but only lost one. Rypien finished 10-of-20 for 109 yards, adding a 1-yard rushing touchdown.

The Broncos' lost fumble came on the second play from scrimmage, and UNLV cashed in the turnover with Evan Pantels' 21-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

The Broncos responded on their next possession, chewing up 8:18 of clock on a 19-play, 74-yard drive capped by Rypien's 1-yard leap over the pile. It was the Broncos' longest scoring drive of the season.

In contrast, Boise State's next drive was its shortest of the year -- a one-play possession set up by Cedrick Wilson's 73-yard punt return. McNichols finished it with a 6-yard run for a 14-3 lead.

After a UNLV punt, McNichols punctuated another scoring drive with a 1-yard plunge off-tackle to make it 21-3.

Late in the second quarter, Palandech cut the deficit to 21-10, taking a 7-yard option keeper up the middle.

Boise State continued to pull away after halftime, with freshman Alexander Mattison adding a rushing touchdown to two more by McNichols. Palandech scored on a 9-yard keeper in the third quarter and completed a late touchdown bomb to Andrew Price, who had a game-high 65 receiving yards.

NOTES: UNLV played without top WR Devonte Boyd, whose 45 catches and 746 yards were more than triple the team's next-highest receiver coming into Friday's game. ... The Rebels were also missing starting RB Lexington Thomas, who was a game-time decision. ... Boise State played without its second-leading tackler, linebacker Tanner Vallejo. ... Boise State junior LB Joe Martarano suffered a left leg injury late in the first quarter. He was carted off the field with his leg in an air cast and did not return.

Read the complete news article here...

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