By JASON CHATRAW (Associated Press)
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Colton Boomer hit four field goals including the 40-yard game winner on the final play to lift Central Florida over Boise State 18-16 on Saturday evening.
UCF (2-0), which struggled in the red zone, leaned on Boomer, who tied a school record with a 55-yard field goal in the second quarter.
“What can you say about Boomer?” UCF coach Gus Malzahn said. “A 50 and then a 55-yard field goal and then a 40 yarder with the game on the line? He’s one of the best kickers in college football. It doesn’t get any tougher than that on the road.”
Boise State (0-2), which had fallen behind midway through the fourth quarter for the first time since the opening period, took a 16-15 lead with 1:49 remaining when backup quarterback Maddux Madsen threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Stefan Cobbs. But the two-point conversion pass attempt failed, which proved to be costly.
UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, who finished 16-of-24 passing for 272 yards, engineered a comeback of his own. Plumlee drove the Knights 58 yards on nine plays to set up Boomer’s game-winning kick at the horn.
“What a big time quality win for our program on the road,” Malzahn said. “It was hard earned. There are a lot of things looking back that we’ve got to correct. (Boise State) had something to do with some of them. There were a lot of things that went against us tonight, but we kept fighting.”
Boise State also had plenty of adversity to deal with on its own, including playing without starting running back George Holani and then losing starting quarterback Taylen Green early in the fourth quarter.
“We obviously fell short here on the last play of the game tonight, but I’m extremely proud of the jump and the growth the team made in a lot of areas,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. “We knew what this stretch was coming into the beginning of the season with the first two opponents and I’ll take this team every day of the week.”
UCF came out aggressive on its opening possession, needing only two plays to get to the Boise State 15. But on the next play, Alexander Teubner intercepted a bobbled pass at the Broncos’ 3.
The Knights took a 3-0 lead on their next possession when Boomer hit a career-long 50-yard field goal which he later broke.
Boise State responded with a five-play, 72-yard drive, scoring when Green exploited the space vacated on a cornerback blitz, cooly tossing the ball to a wide open Ashton Jeanty, who streaked 38 yards for the touchdown and a 7-3 lead.
After Boomer connected on a 33-yard field goal midway through the second quarter to trim Boise State’s lead to 7-6, Broncos kicker Jonah Dalmas hit a career and school record 56-yard field goal to push the lead back to 10-6 on the ensuing possession.
UCF answered by driving to the Boise State 31 to set up fourth-and-1 with just over a minute left in the half. But a false state pushed UCF back to the 36 and Malzahn sent Boomer out to attempt the 55 yarder. Boomer drilled the kick with plenty of room to spare, tying the school record and cutting Boise State’s lead to 10-9 just before halftime.
After the Knights’ previous four trips to the red zone ended with two interceptions, a turnover on downs and a field goal, UCF finally found the end zone in the fourth quarter.
On second-and-goal from the 5, R.J. Harvey took a direct snap and danced through the Boise State defense before diving over the goal line for the score. The Broncos stuffed the two-point conversion attempt, leaving UCF with a 15-10 lead with 7:55 remaining.
Plumlee also led UCF’s ground attack with 73 yards on 11 carries, while Harvey added 70 yards on 15 carries and the team’s lone touchdown. Kobe Hudson paced UCF’s receivers with 134 yards on five catches.
Jeanty finished with 115 yards rushing on 24 carries to go along with 97 yards receiving on five receptions with a touchdown.
UCF: If the Knights are going to make any noise their inaugural season in the Big 12, they will need to clean up the red zone mistakes that kept it closer than it should’ve been. Both of Plumlee’s red zone interceptions were off bobbled passes that were catchable and should’ve resulted in touchdowns.
Boise State: The Broncos will have plenty of questions moving forward with the nature of Green’s injury. Green, who left in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a right ankle injury, had only completed nine passes along with an interception before he hobbled off the field in the fourth quarter. But Boise State found out it has a capable backup in Madsen, whose gritty fourth-quarter drive gave the team a chance to win.
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