Boise State grinds out victory over Arizona, 38-30, in Fiesta Bowl

Boise State grinds out victory over Arizona, 38-30, in Fiesta Bowl
Boise State wide receiver Chaz Anderson (6) hauls in a 57-yard touchdown pass against Arizona cornerback Jarvis McCall Jr. (29) in the first half of the Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday. (Kyle Green / TNS)

The Boise State Broncos are no longer just trick-play ponies.

They did score a touchdown on a Statue of Liberty play. This was the Fiesta Bowl, so of course they did.

But once the tricks were used up and the offensive fireworks dulled, Boise State had to grind out this Fiesta Bowl victory with its defense.

Donte Deayon returned an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter and sack specialist Kamalei Correa had his biggest takedown of the season on the game's final play, lifting No. 21 Boise State to a 38-30 victory over No. 12 Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl at Glendale, Ariz., on Wednesday.

"They hit us, we stiffened up and came up a winner," Boise State linebacker Tanner Vallejo said.

Boise State (12-2) lived up to its unpredictable reputation in the first quarter, pulling off the Statue of Liberty play while racing to a 21-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes.

Jay Ajayi scored two of his three touchdowns in the first quarter — one on the trick play — and finished with 134 yards rushing. Grant Hedrick was perfect through his first 14 passes and threw for 304 yards and a touchdown. Thomas Sperbeck had 12 catches for 199 yards.

The bulk of those numbers came in the first half, though. Once the second rolled around, the Broncos bogged down, allowing Arizona to cut the lead to eight in the fourth quarter.


The Wildcats had a final chance, using their quick-strike offense to march down the field, but Correa sacked Anu Solomon at Boise State's 10-yard on the game's last play.

The Broncos charged onto the field after Correa's sack, celebrating a successful first season under Coach Bryan Harsin with their third Fiesta Bowl victory.

Not bad for a team supposedly in transition.

"People think Boise State isn't a powerhouse program," said Broncos receiver Chaz Anderson, who had a 57-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. "It feels good to be back to where we were in the past."

Arizona (10-4) was overrun by Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game and seemed to still have a hangover against the Broncos.

Once the Wildcats shook out of their daze, they shut down Boise State's high-powered offense and began chipping away at the lead.

The problem was that they needed to take bigger chunks.

Instead of scoring touchdowns, Arizona mostly dinked its way back, settling for three field goals after driving deep into Boise State's end.

Turnovers also hurt. Solomon threw for 335 yards and a touchdown, but had two interceptions that led to touchdowns for Boise State, including Deayon's pick six late in the third quarter.

"Everything wasn't going our way," the redshirt freshman said. "I was overthinking things and I just can't do that. I played like a freshman today."

Of all the non-playoff bowls, the Fiesta had one of the most intriguing matchups: Two prolific offenses, two programs trying to make a statement with a big-bowl win.

It certainly lived up to the billing at the start.

The big-play Broncos burst out of the gate with long touchdowns on their first two drives: a 56-yard touchdown run by Ajayi and a 57-yard touchdown hookup between Hedrick and Anderson.

No Fiesta Bowl with Boise State would be complete without a Statue of Liberty play, so the Broncos did that, too. Ajayi scored on it, taking a behind-the-back handoff from Hedrick, then stiff-arming Arizona cornerback Cam Denson to the ground on the 16-yard run.

No. 6 Texas Christian 42, No. 9 Mississippi 3: Playing like a team motivated by the snub of being left out of the four-team playoff, the Horned Frogs rode three touchdown passes from Trevone Boykin and a dominant defense to the rout in the Peach Bowl at Atlanta.

Josh Doctson had two touchdown catches and Aaron Green ran for a score and added a touchdown reception for the Horned Frogs (12-1).

"We showed Atlanta, the crowd and everyone that we deserve to be in the playoffs competing for the national championship," said receiver Kolby Listenbee, who threw a touchdown pass and had a scoring catch.

Added Doctson: "I think people around the nation will be talking about us for a while now."

Ole Miss (9-4) lost four of its last six games. Bo Wallace threw three interceptions, including one caught in the Rebels' end zone by defensive end James McFarland for a touchdown.

The action was as lopsided as the score. Texas Christian finished with 423 yards and allowed only 129 to Ole Miss. The Rebels were held to nine yards rushing in the biggest margin of victory in Peach Bowl history.

"The first half was like a straight punch in the mouth," said Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram.

Ole Miss ranked first in the nation with its average of only 13.8 points allowed. Turnovers and Texas Christian's quick-strike offense were too much to overcome.

Wallace completed only 10 of 23 passes for 109 yards with three interceptions.

Attendance was 65,706, ending the Peach Bowl's streak of 17 consecutive sellouts.

No. 12 Georgia Tech 49, No. 7 Mississippi State 34: Justin Thomas ran for three touchdowns and threw for another, and the Yellow Jackets set an Orange Bowl record by rushing for 452 yards at Miami Gardens, Fla.

Georgia Tech (11-3) earned its first Orange Bowl victory in 63 years.

The Bulldogs (10-3) lost three of its final four games after being ranked No. 1 for five straight weeks.