Printed on: November 26, 2013

BSU's Southwick ready for New Mexico

By TODD DVORAK
Associated Press

BOISE -- Boise State coach Chris Petersen is expecting to get starting quarterback Joe Southwick back in the starting lineup, just in time for Saturday's important regular season finale against New Mexico.

Southwick has missed most of the last five games after suffering a broken right ankle on the opening drive against Nevada Oct. 19.

Backup Grant Hedrick took control of the Broncos offense and led the team to victories over the Wolf Pack, Colorado State and Wyoming. But the junior has struggled at times with turnovers and moving the offense consistently, especially in losses to BYU and at San Diego State on Saturday.

Southwick, who has taken part in limited practice the last two weeks, has compiled a 16-4 record as a starter in the last two seasons and reclaims that role in a game the Broncos (7-4, 5-2 Mountain West Conference) must win to have any chance to play in the conference title game next month.

"I expect for him to play, and that's all I know," Petersen said Monday. "This week in practice will tell us a lot. We don't want to put a guy out there who can't defend himself."

Boise State also needs a Utah State loss to win the Mountain Division and a likely rematch with No. 16 Fresno State. The Aggies are 6-1 in the conference, their only loss at home to Boise State on Oct. 12. The Aggies host Wyoming on Saturday afternoon and can clinch the division with a win.

Petersen said Hedrick will also get some action against the floundering Lobos (3-8, 1-6), a team that has lost five of its last six games.

Hedrick, a redshirt junior, has looked sharp at times and like a backup at others. Since taking over, Hedrick has completed 68.3 percent of his throws for 1,154 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for five more scores. But he's also thrown five interceptions, including two in Saturday's 34-31 overtime loss to the Aztecs.

The offense was held to a season-low 297 total yards, gave up four sacks to the Aztecs defense and for the fifth time this season failed to score a touchdown in the opening half.

Petersen offered a mixed review of Hedrick's performance, on one hand acknowledging the missed throws and mistakes. He said the interception returned by San Diego State for a touchdown in the second half was the fault of receiver Aaron Burks, who slipped on the route.

"It's always a combination of things," said Petersen, who has never before had a season with four losses since taking over as head coach in 2006. "Sure the quarterback missed some things. But it's never one play. We had our chances."

Late Saturday

SAN DIEGO STATE 34, BOISE STATE 31: At San Diego, the San Diego State football team outlasted Boise State 34-31 in overtime late Saturday night at Qualcomm Stadium.

The game was tied at 28-28 after Boise State junior kicker Dan Goodale hooked a 43-yard field-goal attempt from the left hash on the last play of regulation.

Goodale made a 35-yard kick on the first possession of overtime, but the Aztecs responded with a 10-yard pass from Quinn Kaehler to Colin Lockett in the front right corner of the end zone.

Boise State, which had 137 yards in the first three quarters and 285 in regulation, did most of its damage with special teams to erase a 14-7 halftime deficit.

The Broncos didn't score following a muffed punt that they recovered in the third quarter, but the play helped change field position. Moments later, the Broncos took the ball at the Aztecs' 49-yard line. On the fourth play of the drive, sophomore tailback Jay Ajayi -- bottled up till then -- turned the corner on a run to the left and zipped down the sideline for a 31-yard score that tied the game.

Lockett, San Diego State's kickoff returner -- who scored a touchdown against the Broncos last year -- fumbled the ensuing kickoff. While players thought they were fighting for the ball, Boise State safety Taylor Loffler emerged from the pile unnoticed with it.

The Broncos took over at the Aztecs' 24-yard line. On third-and-9, quarterback Grant Hedrick threw a middle screen to sophomore wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes for an 11-yard gain. Hedrick went to Williams-Rhodes on another middle screen on the next play and he scampered into the end zone for a 21-14 lead with 5:02 left in the third.

San Diego State was driving as the fourth quarter began but failed on fourth-and-goal at the Broncos' 4. That didn't matter, because three plays later J.J. Whittaker intercepted Hedrick and waltzed 18 yards into the end zone to tie the game at 21-21.

Hedrick answered with a nice drive. He tossed a 17-yard strike to wide receiver Matt Miller on the run and hit Miller again for 11 yards. A personal foul on the tackle on Miller helped, too. On second-and-1 at the SDSU 10, Hedrick floated a pass over the middle to Miller. It was underthrown, but Miller reached over the defender's head for the catch. That made it 28-21 with 8:02 left in the game.

The Aztecs tied it with 4:04 left. Boise State cornerback Donte Deayon intercepted Kaehler, but he landed at the Broncos' 1. That set up terrible field position, which led to a short punt by Trevor Harman. Tim Vizzi returned the punt 41 yards for a touchdown.

This was the Broncos' fourth most-challenging game of the season -- and the first three all ended in losses.

This one followed a similar script in the first half.

The Broncos failed to score an offensive touchdown in the first half for the fifth time in two seasons under offensive coordinator Robert Prince -- games vs. BYU (2012 and 2013), Michigan State (2012), Washington (2013) and San Diego State (2013).

In all, the Broncos generated four first downs and 49 yards of offense in the first half. They had 3 yards in the first quarter.

But despite all that, they were only down a touchdown.

San Diego State scored a touchdown on its second drive to take a 7-0 lead. On fourth-and-goal at the 2, star tailback Adam Muema crashed into the end zone with 4:15 left in the first quarter.

The Broncos answered when junior cornerback Bryan Douglas caught the kickoff and burst into the open field down the left sideline for a 100-yard kickoff return. That tied the game 7-7.