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Maaco Bowl Las Vegas blog: Boise State pulls out 28-26 victory over Washington

Bishop Sankey rushes for 205 yards in near-upset for Huskies

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Sam Morris

Boise State’s Jamar Taylor lifts the 2012 Maaco Bowl Las Vegas trophy over his head after the Broncos beat Washington 28-26 Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Updated Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 | 4:03 p.m.

2012 Maaco Bowl Las Vegas

Boise State fans cheer on the field after their 28-26 win over Washington in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas game Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »

Boise State Football Team

Boise State football team prepares for their upcoming game Saturday when they face off against Washington in the 2012 MACCO Bowl Las Vegas, Thursday Dec. 19, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Washington Prepares for MAACO Bowl

Washington quarterback Keith Price practices with his team at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas on Wednesday, December 19, 2012. Washington is preparing to face Boise State in Saturday's Maaco Bowl Las Vegas Launch slideshow »

Boise State finally found a challenge in Las Vegas.

Washington battled with Boise State until the final minute when Broncos cornerback Jeremy Ioane picked off a pass from Huskies quarterback Keith Price near midfield. The Broncos had kicked a field goal minutes before to go up 28-26, which ended up as the final score.

This wasn't anything like the past two Las Vegas Bowls, when Boise State beat its two opponents by a combined 55 points. Boise State becomes the first ever team to win the Las Vegas Bowl in three consecutive seasons.

They did it behind one of quarterback Joe Southwick's best performances. Southwick threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns on 26-for-38 passing. D.J. Harper added 71 yards on 16 carries.

Boise State looked on pace to register another rout early. The Broncos went up 18-3 and the Huskies looked hapless. Then Bishop Sankey happened. The Washington sophomore running back had the second-most rushing yards in Las Vegas Bowl history with 205. His one rushing touchdown cut the lead to 18-10. Quarterback Keith Price scored again before halftime, making it 18-17.

Washington's big comeback hit its peak when Travis Coons hit a 26-yard field goal with 4:47 to go to give the Huskies their first lead at 26-25. The Huskies didn't back down, but the Broncos were ready for a close game.

Check back later for full coverage from lasvegassun.com.

3:00 remaining in fourth quarter, Washington up 26-25

Washington just captured its first lead of the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas.

Travis Coons made a 38-yard field goal with 4:09 to go after a 13-play drive from Washington. The Huskies, who failed to convert on six straight third-downs to start the game, continually prolonged the drive with passes from Keith Price to Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Bishop Sankey now has 30 carries for 204 yards, good for second in Las Vegas Bowl history.

2:00 remaining in third quarter, Boise State ahead 25-23

It's a second-half shootout here at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Like Boise State, Washington found the end zone on its first drive out of the locker room. Quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey marched the Huskies right down the field to answer the Broncos.

The Huskies trail by two after missing a two-point conversion. Price showed off his athleticism with the touchdown, scrambling around for several seconds before Austin Seferian-Jenkins became open at the goal line. The six-yard touchdown pass enabled Seferian-Jenkins to break Washington's all-time receiving yard record for a tight end.

Price's numbers have slightly improved to 10-for-23 for 157 yards with a touchdown and interception. Sankey has 22 carries for 155 yards and a touchdown.

10:00 remaining in third quarter, Boise State up 25-17

Whatever inspiration Boise State coach Chris Petersen came up with halftime, it must have worked.

The Broncos took the ball 74 yards on 15 plays after the second-half kickoff. They capped off the drive when Holden Huff caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Joe Southwick.

Southwick is having quite the day against a tough Washington secondary, throwing for 207 yards and touchdowns on 22-for-30 passing. Huff now has two catches, both for touchdowns.

Chris Potter is the Broncos leading receiver, with seven catches for 47 yards. He also threw a touchdown pass on a double-pass.

Boise State tried one trick play on their last scoring drive, but wound up sacked and facing a 3rd-and-18. The Broncos converted on a fourth-down after Southwick scrambled for 17 on the third-down play.

Halftime, Boise State leads 18-17

Washington's offense went from rotting to rolling, and now the second half of Maaco Bowl Las Vegas looms large.

The Huskies scored twice in the final five minutes of the first half to make the score 18-17. The last score came when quarterback Keith Price scrambled seven yards and broke a tackle at the goal line for a touchdown. Price completed a 42-yard screen pass to Bishop Sankey to set up the touchdown.

Sankey has 177 combined rushing and receiving yards at halftime.

4:00 remaining, Washington trims deficit to 18-10

Forty-three seconds after Boise State appeared to take a commanding lead, Washington cut into it.

The Huskies drove 65 yards in 43 seconds, getting into the end zone when sophomore running back Bishop Sankey found space from 26 yards out. Their biggest play of the game came right before when Keith Price found Kasen Williams for a 39-yard completion.

Perhaps Boise State isn't poised to cruise to another Las Vegas Bowl win after all.

5:30 remaining in second quarter, Boise State goes up 18-3

Boise State tried a double-pass with wide receiver Chris Potter earlier in the game. It failed.

They went back to it seconds ago, and it succeeded. Potter completed a 34-yard pass to Holden Huff on a first-down to give Boise State its second touchdown of the afternoon.

The ensuing extra point failed when quarterback Joe Southwick couldn't outrun Washington defenders to the edge. Boise State is now ahead 18-3.

Something must change for Washington on offense if it wants to make a comeback. Only one of Washington's drives have gone for more than 20 yards. The Huskies have three three-and-outs and two turnovers.

10:00 remaining in second quarter, Boise State ahead 12-3

Washington has now turned the ball over twice. Boise State has now gotten points off of turnovers twice.

Washington quarterback Keith Price threw two consecutive horrendous passes that were way off target on his team's latest drive. Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor intercepted the second one at the 43-yard line.

The Broncos wasted no time from there, running a hurry-up offense to get to the 21-yard line with two consecutive completions from Joe Southwick. Michael Frisina eventually knocked through his second field goal of the day, this one from 30 yards out. Southwick improved to 12-for-16 for 109 yards on the drive. Geraldo Boldewijn has been his favorite target, with three catches for 43 yards and a touchdown.

End of the first quarter, Boise State up 9-3

Through one quarter, the scoring pace at Maaco Bowl Las Vegas is higher than expected.

Geraldo Boldewijn dove across the plane to notch the first touchdown of the game after a 16-yard pass from Joe Southwick. Washington fans' groans turned to cheers shortly after, however, when Danny Shelton blocked the extra point. Boise State will take a six-point lead into the second quarter.

The Broncos had an impressive drive before the touchdown. They covered 79 yards in 14 plays and 4:26. Southwick is 9-for-13 for 66 yards and one touchdown.

4:20 remaining in the first quarter, Washington ties game at 3-3

If Bishop Sankey wanted to make up for his earlier miscue on Washington's latest drive, he succeeded.

The sophomore running back willed the Huskies inside the 10-yard line with a series of hard runs and a 33-yard sweep. Boise State couldn't punch it in the end zone from there.

Travis Coons converted a 26-yard field goal, however, to tie the score at 3. Jeremy Ioane should get plenty of pats on the back on Boise State's sideline.

The sophomore safety is the only reason Coons didn't get into the end zone on his big play. Ioane chased him down with a perfect pursuit angle to save the touchdown.

10:26 remaining in first quarter, Boise State up 3-0

Boise State posted an outrageously beneficial +18 in turnover margin this season.

The Broncos are already +1 in that department in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. Sophomore defensive tackle Tyler Horn recovered a fumble forced by senior teammate Darren Koontz to lead to the first points of the game.

The Broncos got the turnover at the Huskies 47-yard line. They drove 29 yards from there, setting up a 34-yard field goal from Michael Frisina.

Bishop Sankey was the culprit of coughing up the ball for Washington. The sophomore running back had rushing attempts on four of Washington's first five plays, gaining 16 yards and a first down before the fumble.

Pre-game

Smoke peeled off the grills and footballs flew through the air. Purple and orange were the only visible colors all throughout the Sam Boyd Stadium parking lot.

This was the scene two hours before the kickoff of the 2012 Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. It felt like a big-time college football atmosphere, something rarely experienced in this town.

Don’t question the importance of this game to the fans or players of Boise State and Washington. They want a victory as much as they did during the biggest games of the regular season.

The crowd appears close to evenly split, with maybe a slight edge to Boise State. Broncos fans have started to pencil in Las Vegas for their holiday plans with their team playing in this bowl for the third straight year.

Boise State could become the first team to win the Las Vegas Bowl three years in a row today. BYU had a chance in 2008, but fell 31-21 to Arizona.

Teams traditionally don’t fare well when they continually wind up in the same bowl. Theory dictates it’s easier to get complacent when going through the same routine year after year. The excitement wears off.

But Boise State swears that’s not the case in this instance. The Broncos have proven themselves enough in bowl games to take their word for it.

They’ve won three straight bowl games, going 4-2 overall since coach Chris Petersen took over in 2006 including two BCS victories.

For the first time in recent memory, the Broncos defense has led it more than the offense this season. Middle linebacker J.C. Percy is a run-stuffer who ranked among the top players in the Mountain West in tackles.

The secondary was Boise State’s strongest unit, as it ranked No. 4 in the nation against the pass. Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins form a cornerback duo that’s as strong as any in the country.

Washington’s defense made one of the biggest leaps in the country this season. After ranking 94th in the nation a year ago, the Huskies are up to 30th this year. New defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox has a lot to do with the turnaround, but he didn’t arrive to a unit without talent.

Two of cornerback Desmond Trufant’s brothers are in the NFL and he’ll soon join them covering receiver. The Huskies start seven underclassmen, including standout sophomore Josh Shirley at defensive end and freshman linebacker Shaq Thompson.

They’ll have to slow vastly underrated D.J. Harper, Boise State’s junior running back who ignites its whole offense. Washington has a running back who broke out this year as well in sophomore Bishop Sankey.

But Washington also has several threats in the passing game, including tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, so its game plan may revolve on quarterback Keith Price.

Stay tuned to lasvegassun.com for a live blog of all the action.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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