BOISE, Idaho (AP) — With Boise State clinging to a three-point lead in overtime against Wyoming, Broncos linebacker Riley Whimpey had a chance to seal the game with an interception in the end zone.
But, he dropped the ball.
Two plays later on third down, Whimpey blitzed and stuffed Wyoming running back Xazavian Valladay in the backfield, forcing a 37-yard field goal attempt that fell short — a game-ending miss.
It was that kind of night for the No. 21 Broncos, who rallied and escaped with a 20-17 overtime victory over the Cowboys.
"When things aren't going our way, we keep our heads up and have that one-play mentality," Whimpey said. "Going all the way back to Florida State and being able to come back in the second half and get the win in that game. This team has an amazing mentality to be able to put our heads down and work and eventually come out on top."
With the win, Boise State (8-1, 4-0, No. 22 CFP) keeps its New Year's Day bowl hopes alive as the Group of 5 representative despite playing without injured starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier. Bachmeier was expected to play, but remained on the sidelines due to an undisclosed injury he suffered against San Jose State last week.
Chase Cord, making his second start of the season, threw for 190 yards and a touchdown to lead the Broncos offensively.
Wyoming (6-3, 3-2), now 0-7 against the Broncos in Boise, failed to hold onto a halftime lead for the second time this season. The Cowboys also squandered a 14-6 advantage at the intermission against San Diego State in a 26-22 loss.
The Cowboys were also without their starting quarterback, Sean Chambers, who went out for the season with a knee injury in Wyoming's previous game against Nevada. Tyler Vander Waal finished 15-of-23 passing for 160 yards.
"We hung with a top 25 team in the country and led the majority of the game," Vander Waal said. "There were plenty of positive things to take away but dealing with the loss right now is a little bit overwhelming."
Wyoming led 10-7 at halftime and 17-10 going into the fourth quarter before Boise State tied the game late in the fourth on a 5-yard run by Khalil Shakir, forcing overtime.
In the extra period, Boise State's drive stalled at the 11 before Sachse made his kick.
Wyoming could only muster five yards on its first three plays of overtime and Cooper Rothe attempted a 37-yard field goal that fell short to the right.
Boise State struggled offensively and had problems stopping Wyoming, which ground out yards through short runs and passes. But the Broncos hung around long enough to land a knockout blow.
While Boise State coach Bryan Harsin was pleased with the victory, he wasn't satisfied with the way the Broncos won.
"This game was about our team finding a way and coming together," Harsin said. "It's part of a team sport where a group of guys go out there and find a way to get it done. . But we need to do a better job of helping those guys get opportunities to go out there and create."
Wyoming: The Cowboys have played gritty this season and appear to be in good shape to finish strong with Vander Wall returning to the helm where he started last season.
Boise State: The Broncos survived, but will need Bachmeier back healthy when they hit the road for their final two conference games against Utah State and resurgent Colorado State.
Boise State could possibly move up after a couple losses by teams just above them.
Wyoming remains on the road next Saturday, traveling to Utah State.
Boise State stays at home next week to face New Mexico.