By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Grant Hedrick looked like a Boise State starting quarterback on Saturday night at Hughes Stadium.
Great throws into tight coverage. Route adjustments that went for touchdowns. More decisive runs.
Not to mention the ridiculous numbers.
Hedrick, subbing for the injured Joe Southwick, threw five touchdown passes in his second career start to lead the Broncos to a 42-30 victory against Colorado State.
Hedrick was 19-of-27 for 305 yards. He also rushed for 30 yards and a touchdown — making him the first Broncos quarterback in a decade to account for six touchdowns in a single game (Ryan Dinwiddie, 2003, vs. Nevada, was the last to do it).
“Everything was just a little more decisive,” coach Chris Petersen said. “If he takes another step in both (passing and running), being more decisive, he can be a pretty powerful quarterback.”
Hedrick’s performance covered for a battered defense that got off to another slow start, allowed 626 yards and faced 109 snaps while dealing with a rash of injuries that makes next week’s bye more necessity than convenience.
The Broncos are 6-3 overall and 4-1 in the Mountain West. They are the only team in the Mountain Division that controls its destiny, which means the Broncos can reach the conference championship game by winning their last three games — beginning Nov. 16 at home against Wyoming.
CSU — Jared Roberts 29 field goal, 9:10. Key plays: Kapri Bibbs rushed for 8 yards on third-and-1 and quarterback Garrett Grayson went 9 yards on a third-and-6 draw, but defensive tackle Tyler Horn sacked Grayson on third-and-goal at the 5. Drive: 15 plays, 63 yards, 5:50. Colorado State 3, Boise State 0
CSU — Bibbs 3 run (Roberts kick), 6:33. Key play: Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick and tailback Jay Ajayi botched an exchange on the Broncos’ first play and the Rams recovered at the Boise State 18. Drive: 6 plays, 18 yards, 2:24. Colorado State 10, Boise State 0
BSU — Hedrick 2 run (Dan Goodale kick), 4:15. Key plays: Hedrick hit wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn for 13 yards on third-and-5 and wide receiver Matt Miller for 25 yards on the next play. Ajayi added a 16-yard run. Drive: 7 plays, 65 yards, 2:18. Colorado State 10, Boise State 7
BSU — Boldewijn 20 pass from Hedrick (Goodale kick), 12:47. Key plays: Ajayi used a nifty cut to gain 11 yards on second-and-10 and Hedrick scrambled up the middle for 11 yards on third-and-10. Drive: 8 plays, 53 yards, 1:57. Boise State 14, Colorado State 10
CSU — Charles Lovett 7 pass from Grayson (Roberts kick), 6:20. Key plays: Bibbs gained 4 yards to convert fourth-and-1. The Rams shifted out of field-goal formation on fourth-and-4 at the 16 and gained 5 yards on a keeper by holder/wide receiver Joe Hansley. Drive: 14 plays, 75 yards, 6:27. Colorado State 17, Boise State 14
BSU — Shane Williams-Rhodes 68 pass from Hedrick (Goodale kick), 5:05. Key play: Williams-Rhodes broke free down the sideline on a wheel route from the slot and Hedrick hit him while getting drilled. Drive: 3 plays, 74 yards, 1:07. Boise State 21, Colorado State 17
BSU — Miller 15 pass from Hedrick (Goodale kick), 1:13. Key plays: True freshman defensive end Gabe Perez forced a fumble to get the Broncos the ball. Miller made a 14-yard catch and Ajayi added a 30-yard run. Drive: 5 plays, 67 yards, 1:15. Boise State 28, Colorado State 17
BSU — Miller 13 pass from Hedrick (Goodale kick), 13:25. Key plays: Miller made a 26-yard catch, Boldewijn made a 10-yarder and Williams-Rhodes made a 15-yarder. Drive: 5 plays, 68 yards, 1:29. Boise State 35, Colorado State 17
BSU — Aaron Burks 42 pass from Hedrick (Goodale kick), 12:47. Key play: Burks made the touchdown catch in man coverage despite pass interference by defensive back DeAndre Elliott. Drive: 5 plays, 57 yards, 2:03. Boise State 42, Colorado State 17
CSU — Bibbs 1 run (Hansley run failed), 9:09. Key play: Hansley made a 23-yard catch over the middle. Drive: 13 plays, 93 yards, 3:32. Boise State 42, Colorado State 23
CSU — Bibbs 3 run (Roberts kick), 4:51. Key play: Lovett caught a slant and made a nice run across the field to gain 40 yards, to the Boise State 2. Drive: 9 plays, 65 yards, 2:34. Boise State 42, Colorado State 30
Ajayi hits 1,000
Boise State sophomore tailback Jay Ajayi went over 1,000 rushing yards for the season with a 4-yard gain early in the third quarter. The Broncos have had a 1,000-yard rusher in five straight seasons, with four different tailbacks hitting that milestone: Jeremy Avery (2009), Doug Martin (2010-11), D.J. Harper (2012) and Ajayi (2013).
Ajayi reached 1,000 yards in nine games — fewest since Ian Johnson in 2006 (eight) — and in 168 carries — fewest since Martin in 2010 (158).
Ajayi finished with 13 carries for 91 yards. He left the game briefly in the third quarter after a hard hit but returned.
Poor start again
The Broncos worked all week on trying to break their habit of poor starts — and then got off to their worst start of the year.
Colorado State drove 63 yards for a field goal on its opening drive, recovered a botched exchanged by quarterback Grant Hedrick and tailback Jay Ajayi on the Broncos’ first play and drove 18 yards for a touchdown. That made it 10-0.
The Broncos also allowed a season-long, 61-yard kickoff return in the quarter and dropped a pass on third-and-1.
Colorado State led 10-7 at the end of the quarter — the Broncos’ third straight first-quarter deficit.
Coming into the game, the Broncos had their lowest point total (48) and worst point differential (plus-7) in the first quarter.
Strong second quarter
The Broncos have scored their most points in the second quarter —108 going into the game. And they outscored the Rams 21-7 in that quarter Saturday. For the season, the Broncos have outscored opponents 129-82 in the second quarter.
Third quarter fits, too
The Broncos have played their best defense this season in the third quarter. They had allowed 34 points coming into Saturday’s game — and they shut out the Rams.
Turnovers prove key
Boise State’s run of turnover problems continued in the first quarter when the eighth lost fumble of the season occurred on the first offensive snap. Quarterback Grant Hedrick and Ajayi botched an exchange. That led to a Colorado State touchdown.
However, the Broncos collected their first takeaway since the fourth quarter Oct. 12 at Utah State when true freshman defensive end Gabe Perez forced a fumble by scrambling quarterback Garrett Grayson and linebacker Tyler Gray recovered late in the first half. That led to a Boise State touchdown.
The Broncos’ turnover drought lasted nine full quarters, plus parts of two more. Total time elapsed: 155 minutes, 28 seconds.
Five starters out
Boise State played without five starters because of injuries. Senior defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe did not travel after showing concussion symptoms after practice during the week week. Right tackle Rees Odhiambo, linebacker Blake Renaud and quarterback Joe Southwick remained sidelined with injuries and didn’t travel. Wide receiver Kirby Moore did travel but served as a play signaler in street clothes again.
Linebacker Jonathan Brown and safety Jeremy Ioane, who did not play against BYU, made the trip. Ioane started and Brown, who had not played since the season opener (knee), entered on the third possession.
The Broncos played the first half without backup safety and key special-teamer Dillon Lukehart, who was required to stay in the locker room to serve a suspension stemming from his targeting foul a week earlier at BYU. Lukehart did not have access to a TV to watch the game, either. CBS Sports Network reported that he rode an exercise bike.
They nearly lost backup cornerback Cleshawn Page for the second half. Page was flagged for kick-catch interference and targeting early in the third quarter. The targeting penalty — which carries an automatic ejection and would have cost Page the first half of the next game — was overturned on replay review. The Mountain West office still could review the play and add a penalty for Page.
Rams fake kicks
Colorado State set up a second-quarter touchdown with a little trickery. They came out in field-goal formation on fourth-and-4 at the Boise State 16-yard line.
The Rams tried a fake punt in the third quarter. The Broncos sniffed out the pass play and upback Joe McKay, a tight end, couldn’t scramble for the first down.
The Broncos wore orange pants, white jerseys and white helmets. … Boise State captains: QB Grant Hedrick, DE Beau Martin, WR Aaron Burks and DL Tyler Horn. … Boise State won the coin toss and deferred. … The Broncos didn’t have a Hammer winner against BYU. That also happened last year after a loss at San Diego State. … Redshirt freshman Travis Averill made his first start, at right tackle. … Colorado State kicker Jared Roberts hit the crossbar from 47 yards on the last play of the first half. His timing appeared to be thrown off by a high snap. … The line judge was Catherine Conti, a rare female game official in college football.
Monday blog: Notes and video from Boise State’s weekly press conference
Tuesday story: Fumbles causing problems for Broncos
Tuesday blog: Mountain West confirms Lukehart penalty
Tuesday blog: Mountain West Football Report
Wednesday story: Colorado State’s offense is on a roll
Wednesday story: Scouting Colorado State
Wednesday blog: Tall receivers don’t worry Broncos’ corners
Thursday story: Lawrence, Colorado State’s Barrett lead MW in sacks
Thursday blog: Travis Averill eager to start; chat replay
Name the Score contest: x
Friday story: The Mountain West’s murky bowl picture
Friday blog: Jay Ajayi nears 1,000
Saturday story: Profile of Shane Williams-Rhodes
Saturday column: Boise State corners live on edge between hero, goat
Saturday story: Game breakdown