RENO, Nev. -- Boise State clinched a corner of the Mountain West Conference championship on Saturday with a 27-21 victory over Nevada, sharing the title with Fresno State and San Diego State.
The 20th-ranked Broncos (10-2), who needed a convincing win to keep their slim Bowl Championship Series hopes alive, posted their school-record seventh first-half shutout of the season to build 17-0 halftime lead and held on at the finish.
The Wolf Pack (7-5) made a push in the third quarter but a goal-line fumble short-circuited its comeback attempt.
Nevada running back Stefphon Jefferson scored two second-half touchdowns to get Nevada back into the game, and has a school-record 23 touchdowns this season.
The Broncos survived thanks to junior quarterback Joe Southwick's 52-yard touchdown pass to Matt Miller with 13:52 left in the third quarter and also had a 30-yard field goal by Michael Frisina with 3:2w5 left in the game for a 27-14 lead.
On Boise State's second possession, senior tailback D.J. Harper gained 49 yards on four carries to lead a touchdown drive. Included was a 31-yard burst on third-and-two and included a broken tackle near the line of scrimmage.
Southwick capitalized by shifting in the pocket to buy time and throwing a 17-yard touchdown pass to wide-open senior wide receiver Chris Potter with 6:12 left in the first quarter.
The Broncos' next possession featured more of the same. Harper gained 16 yards on three carries to start the drive and Southwick scrambled for six yards on third-and-six.
On third-and-five at the Nevada 39, backup quarterback Grant
Hedrick entered the game in the Wildcat. He pitched to Harper on the
option for six yards on third-and-five, caught a 20-yard pass from Potter on a trick play and handed to true freshman wide receiver Shane
Williams-Rhodes, who broke a tackle in the backfield on an 11-yard
Harper finished the drive with a two-yard touchdown run and it was 14-0 with 13:54 left in the first half.
The Broncos' fourth drive was impressive, too. They took over at their own 14 and marched to the Wolf Pack three-yard-line before settling for Frisina's 20-yard field goal.
Southwick scrambled for 15 yards on third-and-10 for the initial first down and hit sophomore wide receiver Matt Miller for a key 26-yard gain. The field goal made it 17-0 with 3:37 seconds left in the half.
The Broncos used timely sacks and tackles for loss to halt the
Wolf Pack's dynamic offense, which earned at least one first down on every possession in the first half.
Safety Jeremy Ioane blitzed and caught quarterback Cody Fajardo in the backfield on third-and-one on the first drive, defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe recorded a sack on third-and-four on the second drive, defensive tackle Darren Koontz got a sack on third-and-two on the third drive and blitzing cornerback Jamar Taylor delivered a sack on second-and-eight on the fourth drive.
NOTES: Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who formerly held the same job at Boise State, attended the game to see his coaching friends and former players. Pease coached at Boise State from 2006 to 2011. ... Boise State senior starting nickel Dextrell Simmons (hamstring) didn't make the trip. He missed most of the previous three games. ... Boise State true freshman cornerback Donte Deayon made his first start in place of senior Jerrell Gavins, who did get into the game. ... Boise State tailback D.J. Harper went over 1,000 yards rushing this season in the first half. ... The Broncos ran the Statue of Liberty play, which they made famous in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, in the first half. The play gained seven yards this time. ... Nevada was
shut out in the first half for the first time this season. The Wolf
Pack had scored at least 10 points in the first half and 30 points in
the game in every previous game this season. ...