If published reports are accurate and Boise State is indeed reconsidering a move to the Big East Conference, the chance to continue spending its Christmas break in Las Vegas would seem to be a pretty nice enticement for the Mountain West.
In this land of Elvis impersonators, it once again will be a Blue Christmas as the Broncos won their third consecutive MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, this one a dramatic 28-26 victory over Washington before a crowd of 33,217 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Senior Michael Frisina kicked a 27-yard field goal with 1:16 remaining to win it for the Boise State (11-2), its fourth straight bowl victory. The Broncos also improved to 4-0 in their new home away from home, Las Vegas, since joining the Mountain West.
“Its every kicker’s dream,” the 5-foot-5 Frisina, a junior college transfer from Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., said of his game-winner. “I couldn’t ask for a better way to go out as a senior.”
Frisina, who also booted a career-best 34-yarder earlier in the game, improved to 14-for-14 on field goal attempts from 30-yards or less.
“I knew I made it when I hit it,” he said. “I don’t know where it ended up. I just knew that it went through the goal posts.”
Washington (7-6) lost despite an impressive 205-yard rushing performance by sophomore running back Bishop Sankey, who was named winner of the Rossi T. Ralenkotter MVP Award.
“A lot of mixed emotions,” Sankey said. “MVP really doesn’t mean nothing when you come out a loser. But I was proud of the way we came out and fought.”
Sankey’s 205 yards were the second most in Las Vegas Bowl history. The record is 254 by Utah’s Mike Anderson against Fresno State in 1999. He also caught three passes for 64 more yards to finish with 269 yards in total offense, including a 26-yard touchdown run.
Junior quarterback Joe Southwick completed 26 of 38 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns, including a one-yarder to tight end Holden Huff midway through the third quarter to give Boise State a 25-17 lead.
But Washington cut the deficit to 25-23 on a six-yard touchdown pass from Keith Price to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, only the fourth passing touchdown allowed all season by the Broncos. However, Price’s two-point conversion pass was deflected away by safety Jeremy Ioane.
Coons, who missed a 41-yard field goal earlier in the fourth quarter, then put Washington ahead with his 38-yarder with 4:10 left.
After Frisina put Boise State back in front with what proved to be the game-winner, Washington then drove into Boise State territory. But Price, who completed 29-of-39 passes for 242 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, was picked off on a pass over the middle by Ioane at the Bronco 32 to thwart a potential last-second Husky field goal try.
“Frustrating loss,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Frustrating loss. We knew going in it would come down to the last possession or two to win the game. To their credit, they found a way to win the ball game at the end.”
Washington also blew a fourth quarter lead at Washington State before losing, 31-28, in overtime in its regular season finale.
“We’ve got to learn to finish in the fourth quarter,” Sarkisian said. “You look at the last two games we played … I could easily be sitting here with a 9-4 football team.”
NOTES: Boise State played without sophomore All-Mountain West DE Demarcus Lawrence who was sent home Thursday for what the school a violation of team rules. It was the second time Lawrence, who led the Mountain West with 9.5 sacks, was suspended this season. … Frisina’s 34-yard field goal in the first quarter was the longest by a Boise State kicker since Nov. 19, 2010. … Boise State and Washington will open the 2013 season on Aug. 31 in Seattle for the re-opening of Husky Stadium. They will also play in 2015 in Boise. The two teams had already agreed to the home-and-home series before the bowl bids were extended. … It was Washington’s first game ever in the state of Nevada.