Sam Boyd swan song a snoozer

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After 48 years, football at Sam Boyd Stadium will go the way of the leather helmet.

The austere facility, located 7 1/2 miles from the UNLV campus, played host to its final game Saturday as Washington and Boise State squared off in the 28th edition of the Las Vegas Bowl.

Unfortunately, the organizers didn’t get the game they were hoping for as Washington jumped out to a 17-0 first-half lead and never looked back, defeating the Broncos 38-7 in front of 34,197 and sending coach Chris Petersen into retirement on the highest of highs.

“This is never about any one person or player,” Petersen said, trying to deflect the attention from himself. “This is a team game. It was about sending the seniors out the right way and catapulting the program in the right direction.”

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Next year, the game will move to the new $1.8 billion Allegiant Stadium near the Las Vegas Strip with new conference affiliations as the Pac-12 along with the SEC or Big Ten will compete in the pre-Christmas game. UNLV will also call the Raiders’ new stadium home.

There’s been a lot of football played at Sam Boyd over the decades, a lot of it not very good. But the Las Vegas Bowl has usually provided some exciting games during its run. However Saturday was not one of those moments thanks to the Huskies’ total domination. 

Washington took a first-quarter Hank Bachmeier interception and converted it into seven points on Jacob Eason’s 17-yard slant pass to Andre Baccellia. 

The Huskies, who closed as consensus 3.5-point favorites made it 14-0 on Salvon Ahmed’s eight-yard sweep around the right side in the second quarter. They tacked on there more at the halftime gun on Peyton Henry’s 32-yard field goal.

Washington was faster and quicker and the Broncos were never able to get out of first gear offensively. What few good moments Boise State had defensively were negated by Washington’s ability to convert on third and fourth down. The Huskies were 7 of 14 on third-down conversions alone with going 3 for 3 converting on fourth down.

The 19th-ranked Broncos managed to avoid the shutout with 4:44 left in the third quarter as George Holani took a shovel pass from backup quarterback Jaylon Henderson and ran 10 yards to paydirt. It was 24-7 at that point and Boise State (12-2) simply didn’t have enough to launch a legitimate comeback. The loss, which snapped the Mountain West’s three-game win streak in the bowl, was also the final appearance for the conference in Las Vegas. 

“We needed to coach better in this game,” Boise coach Bryan Harsin said. “We didn’t do a good enough job to call the right plays.

“We’re a good football team. We just didn’t show up tonight.”

It was an impressive performance by Washington, which finished 8-5. They held a 341-266 edge in total offense. Eason was 22 of 32 passing for 210 yards and a TD and the Huskies’ three takeaways, including a third-quarter pick by defensive back Elijah Molden, the game’s Most Valuable Player to set up the third touchdown, were a big part of the lopsided win and the proper sendoff for their coach.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Petersen said of his retirement. “And the day after that. Maybe in a month it won’t be so awesome trying to figure out what to do. But right now, I feel really good for the guys who are coming into this program and the guys who are coming back.”

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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