Boise State edged out Washington 28-26 in a hard-fought matchup in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
Washington running back Bishop Sankey turned in a monster performance with 30 carries for 205 yards, but it ultimately was not enough to earn a victory for his team.
Boise State took an early advantage at the end of the first quarter with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Joe Southwick to Geraldo Boldewijn to go up 9-3.
The Broncos' momentum carried over into the second quarter, and Chris Petersen dialed up a trick play in order to extend the lead. Wide receiver Chris Potter caught a lateral pass from Southwick and then hit tight end Holden Huff for a 34-yard score.
But the Huskies refused to let Boise State run away with the game, and touchdown runs from Sankey and quarterback Keith Price cut the Broncos' lead to just one point by the time the half ended.
Boise State ensured that Washington would still need to play catch-up when Southwick found Huff for his second touchdown of the day early in the third quarter. The junior quarterback finished with 266 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Trailing 25-17, Price shook off the pain from the beating he had taken all day and led a 75-yard drive that was capped off with a six-yard touchdown pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The score closed the Huskies' deficit to just two points.
The defenses tightened up late in the game, but Sankey's hard running put the Huskies into field-goal range, and Travis Coons sent the ball sailing through the uprights from 38 yards to give Washington a 26-25 lead with just over four minutes left in the game.
But an excellent return from Shane Williams-Rhodes on the ensuing kickoff gave the Broncos excellent field position, and the team capitalized with a 27-yard Michael Frisina field goal to regain the lead.
It ended being the game-winning score and gave Boise State its third consecutive Las Vegal Bowl victory.
Joe Southwick, Boise State: A
Southwick was calm under pressure and avoided mistakes in this game. He rushed for 39 yards and kept plays alive with his legs.
He needed to turn in a first-class performance in this game, and he delivered. Without his leadership in this game, Boise State would not have come through with a victory.
Bishop Sankey, Washington: A+
With a 200-yard performance, Sankey certainly did his part. He was a workhorse in this game, and despite being banged up, he played through pain and turned in a truly gutsy performance.
No player was more impressive in Las Vegas today, and he deserves to be recognized for his efforts.
Holden Huff, Boise State: B
Huff only managed to come through with two catches in this game, but they both went for touchdowns.
His effort to fight through tackles and get into the end zone on Boise State's trick play gave the team a significant amount of momentum, and despite having only 35 receiving yards, he had a massive impact on this game.
Keith Price, Washington: B-
Price also turned in an admirable performance and showed exceptional toughness. However, he did not follow Southwick's example in avoiding mistakes.
His two interceptions, including one on the final drive, caused Washington to lose the turnover battle 3-1, and this proved fatal in such a close contest.
Boise State ensured that win or lose, it would look good for the Las Vegas crowd, and its stylish helmets sparked a surprisingly nerdy Twitter conversation between ESPN's Robert Flores and Ryen Russillo:
CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd couldn't help making a play on words while Bishop Sankey was running all over Boise State:
You were thinking it, I'll say it. Bishop Sankey is the Pope of Las Vegas.— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) December 22, 2012
Pac-12 Network's Bryan Fischer took note of Southwick's ability to make plays with his legs in this game:
Southwick's scrambling is killing UW defense, which has otherwise done pretty well.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) December 22, 2012
Put Chris Petersen in a bowl game, and fans are bound to see a gadget play at some point. Former Bronco and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Doug Martin was happy to see his old coach dial up some trickery:
Trick or Treat Huskies!!!!! #LasVegasBowl— Doug Martin (@DougMartin22) December 22, 2012
Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer was impressed by Washington's quarterback Keith Price, noting that his throws may sometimes be questionable, but his effort and commitment are beyond reproach:
Results may vary, but Keith Price is one tough SOB.— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) December 22, 2012
ESPN Stats & Info noted that Washington had an uncommon amount of success against Boise State's superb defense:
The TD pass from Keith Price to Austin Seferian-Jenkins was only the 2nd TD pass allowed by Boise State in its last 7 games.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 22, 2012
The Idaho Press-Tribune's Dave Southorn noted that Sankey's performance earned him a place in college football history:
Bishop Sankey has 30 carries for 205 yards. Washington bowl record.— Dave Southorn (@BSUDave) December 22, 2012
Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman pointed out that despite a season full of struggles, Michael Frisina ended the year on a high note:
Did Frisina finally bury the ghost of Nevada and TCU for Boise State?— Brian Murphy (@murphsturph) December 22, 2012