Fresno State beats Boise State 28-16 for Mountain West title

Dec 3, 2022, 2:53 AM | Updated: 6:43 pm

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — When Fresno State’s Jake Haener was presented with his biggest challenge of the season — taking down perennial conference power Boise State — coach Jeff Tedford long knew his quarterback would be up for the challenge.

Haener, who didn’t play against Boise State when the two teams met earlier in the season due to an ankle injury, threw for 184 yards and a touchdown to lead Fresno State to a 28-16 victory over the Broncos on Saturday in the Mountain West Conference championship game.

Fresno State (9-4) overcame a 1-4 start to the season and a rash of injuries to win its final eight games, claiming the program’s third Mountain West crown.

“We’ve come a long way since the first part of the year when a lot of people didn’t believe in us,” Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford said. “But the staff did and the kids did. … It’s nice to see them happy.”

Boise State (9-4), which won 40-20 in the regular-season match-up between the teams, fell to 3-3 in Mountain West title games.

“We have to tip our hat to (Fresno State),” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. “We obviously didn’t accomplish what we set out to do today, but we accomplished a lot of things this year. … And we do get one more opportunity in a bowl game.”

But it was Haener who delivered in the moments when Fresno State needed him most, which didn’t come as a surprise to Tedford.

The pair go all the way back to when Haener was 9 years old and looking for some help as a budding quarterback. A mutual friend connected him to Tedford and a long-lasting relationship was born.

“We worked together a little bit and I gave Jake a couple of goals, and he was so dedicated to those goals,” Tedford said. “I told him he had heavy feet and he needed to jump rope five hundred times without missing. Eight months later, I got a call from him, and he said, ‘I did it, I did it.'”

Tedford, who recruited Haener out of high school, had to recruit him again when he entered the transfer portal after the coaching change at the end of last season and considered leaving Fresno State. But Tedford won him back.

“I wanted to be able to come back and play with this great group,” Haener said of his decision to stick it out at Fresno State for his senior season. “Once I got this guy (Tedford) on the other side of the phone, I knew I wanted to be here and play with this group. It’s been awesome and the adversity we’ve faced together has been one of the biggest challenges in my life. And it’s been awesome.”

Haener took full advantage of every miscue by the Broncos. The game’s offensive MVP was five of eight on third downs and led two key scoring drives in the fourth quarter.

“This is the golden boy of the conference and … to come up here against one of our biggest rivals in the conference, it definitely means more,” Haener said.

Boise State controlled the game early but struggled to find the end zone, clinging to a 3-0 lead late in the first half. But that all changed when Fresno State scored two touchdowns in a span of 2:36 right before halftime.

Nikko Remigio’s electric 70-yard punt return snaking back and forth across the field sparked Fresno State. On the ensuing possession, defensive player of the game Cameron Lockridge intercepted the first of two passes, returning it 25 yards to the Broncos’ 17-yard line. Three plays later, Jordan Mims scored on a 2-yard run to put the Bulldogs up 14-3. They never relinquished the lead.

After Boise State edged within 14-9 in the third quarter, Fresno State took advantage of a roughing the punter penalty on fourth-and-15 to breathe new life into the drive. Haener finished with a 22-yard scoring strike to Zane Pope. He tacked on another scoring drive on the next possession to put the game out of reach.

Jordan Mims rushed for 83 yards and a pair of scores for Fresno State.

Boise State’s Taylen Green was 17-of-38 passing for 175 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

THE TAKEAWAY

Boise State: While Broncos quarterback Green made his initial splash on the team with his legs, it’s his arm that turned the season around. However, Green was often off-target against Fresno State.

Fresno State: The Bulldogs’ 10-3 campaign a year ago served as a springboard for sustained success in 2022. However, Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford, who has now won two Mountain West titles, will have his work cut out for him in 2023 as his talented team is losing eight seniors on offense and five more on defense. If he chooses to utilize the transfer portal, he could shore up the team’s short-term needs and keep Fresno State in contention for another conference title.

UP NEXT

Boise State: The Broncos await bowl-game designation.

Fresno State: The Bulldogs will face the fifth-place team from the PAC-12 in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl on Dec. 17.

___

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/mrxhe6f2

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) drives past Los Angeles Lakers forward Rui Hachimura (28) dur...
Associated Press

Irving has 26, Nets beat Lakers 121-104 as James, Davis sit

NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving had 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 121-104 victory Monday night over the Los Angeles Lakers, who played without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Irving had scored 30 or more in a career-best six straight games but didn’t have to carry […]
20 hours ago
Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla directs his players on the court during the first half of an...
Associated Press

Joe Mazzulla, Celtics staff will coach at NBA All-Star Game

Joe Mazzulla started the season as an assistant coach. He then became interim head coach of the Boston Celtics, in a most unexpected way. And now, the NBA’s youngest head coach is headed to the All-Star Game. The 34-year-old Mazzulla and his Celtics staff of assistants will coach Team Giannis — the team that will […]
20 hours ago
Orlando Magic's Markelle Fultz goes up for a dunk during the second half of an NBA basketball game ...
Associated Press

Banchero, Magic rally from early hole, beat 76ers 119-109

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Paolo Banchero had 29 points and 10 rebounds as the Orlando Magic stormed back from a 21-point first-quarter deficit to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-109 on Monday night. Mo Wagner scored 22 points and his younger brother Franz Wagner scored 19 for the Magic, who stopped a three-game skid and ended the […]
20 hours ago
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy leaves the field after the NFC Championship NFL footbal...
Associated Press

AP source: 49ers’ Purdy has torn ligament in right elbow

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy tore a ligament in his throwing elbow, putting his status for the start of next season in question. A person familiar with the injury confirmed the diagnosis of the injury Purdy sustained in the NFC title game. The person spoke on condition of anonymity […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Australia's Sam Kerr (20) scores against Sweden's Nathalie Bjorn (14) during their women's f...
Associated Press

Australia’s Women’s World Cup opener moved to bigger venue

Australia’s Women’s World Cup opener against Ireland has been moved to a larger stadium amid high demand for tickets. Australia’s opener was originally set to be played at Sydney’s new Allianz Stadium, which seats 42,500, but it has been shifted to Stadium Australia, which seats more than 82,000. Stadium Australia, the former Olympic stadium, will […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Judge denies LIV plea to expand discovery to Augusta members

A federal judge denied a request by LIV Golf to expand discovery in its antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour to include communication with 10 Augusta National members, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. LIV Golf had issued subpoenas to five PGA Tour board members and Tim Finchem, the retired PGA Tour commissioner. It […]
20 hours ago
Fresno State beats Boise State 28-16 for Mountain West title