This Day In Sports: Explosive record book plays rule in Reno

October 13, 2018, five years ago today: Two of the longest plays in Boise State history keep the Broncos in the game in the first half—then they get their mojo going in the second in a 31-27 win at Nevada, their 16th victory over the Wolf Pack in 17 games. Wide receiver John Hightower tied the school record for longest run from scrimmage with an 88-yard touchdown dash in the first quarter. Then in the second period, Tyler Horton produced Boise State’s second-longest interception return ever with a 99-yard pick-six. The only one longer at that point was Jamar Taylor’s 100-yarder versus Arizona State in the 2011 Las Vegas Bowl.

The call for a reverse from Boise State’s own 12-yard line was aggressive. The interception was, of course, unplanned. But the Broncos did plenty of gambling that night in Reno. They converted two of three fourth down tries, and the two it got could not have been bigger. On fourth-and-six from the Nevada 36 in the third quarter, Brett Rypien hit CT Thomas for the go-ahead touchdown. Then on fourth-and-eight with about three minutes left, Rypien hit Thomas for 8½ yards and the game-clinching first down. The previous year, the Broncos had been just 3-of-17 on fourth down for the season.

Three of the four longest runs from scrimmage in Boise State history have been by non-running backs. Quarterback Jared Zabransky broke a 20-year-old Broncos record with an 85-yard touchdown dash against Hawaii in 2004. The mark of 88 yards that Hightower tied was originally set by a running back, Jeremy McNichols, against San Jose State in 2015. But, as you know, the current record is held by another QB, Taylen Green, with that 91-yard run at the end of the Utah State game last November.

This was brought up on social media after Eric McAlister’s 83-yard touchdown catch from Maddux Madsen last Saturday (and it will again Saturday on KTVB’s Bronco Roundup GameDay). The longest pass reception in Boise State history has its 20th anniversary next week. It was a 98-yarder by Lawrence Bady on a throw from Ryan Dinwiddie in a 45-3 win at SMU in 2003. Interestingly enough, Bady did not score, as he was tackled on the Mustangs’ one-yard line. That tied it for the longest non-scoring play in NCAA history.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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