FRISCO, Texas (AP)Boise State quarterback Taylen Green accounted for 256 yards and three touchdowns and the Broncos beat North Texas 35-32 on Saturday night in a back-and-forth Frisco Bowl.
Green, who is from nearby Lewisville, ran for two touchdowns during Boise State’s bowl-program-record 22-point third quarter that saw five lead changes. He added 137 passing yards and one touchdown in Boise State’s first bowl victory since 2017.
”The message at halftime was just keep doing what we’re doing and don’t stress,” Green said. ”We’ve been in this position before. We trust the game plan, we trust the coaches. We told ourselves to stay calm and do what we do.”
Freshman running back Ashton Jeanty ran for 178 yards as Boise State (10-4) piled up a season-high 320 yards rushing.
The Broncos outscored North Texas 29-22 in the second half after the Mean Green led 10-6 at the break.
Both teams lost their conference championship games, Boise State in the Mountain West and North Texas (7-7) in Conference USA.
”It’s so gratifying to be able to see these guys celebrate,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. ”It’s tough to leave the locker room right now being around the guys, just because they deserve this.”
Mean Green coach Seth Littrell was fired after their title game loss, which left him with a 44-44 record in seven seasons. Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett was the interim head coach for the bowl game, days after Eric Morris was hired as Littrell’s replacement.
”I know we’re not here for effort,” Bennett said. ”But I just really think that what (the players) gave with the situation being what it was, I was very proud of them.”
Austin Aune, the 29-year-old quarterback for North Texas, completed 17 of 32 passes for 238 yards and one touchdown. But the junior threw two interceptions, including one on the second play of the fourth quarter that set the Broncos up for Jeanty’s 1-yard touchdown that gave Boise State an 11-point lead.
Sophomore Iakika Ragsdale ran 21 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns for North Texas. Sophomore Jordan Smart caught three passes for 94 yards.
”I feel like we were playing well the whole game,” Ragsdale said. ”But in the second half I felt like we just had to keep scoring. … We had motivation to go out there and score every drive.”
North Texas: The Mean Green lost a sixth straight bowl game and second straight at Toyota Stadium. North Texas has been to a bowl in six of the last seven seasons but has not won a bowl game since beating UNLV in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Boise State: The Broncos completed a bowl game for the first time since 2019 and only the second time in the last five seasons, a stretch that began in the school’s last trip to the Dallas area when the 2018 First Responder Bowl against Boston College was canceled and declared no contest due to severe weather.
Last year, the Broncos withdrew from the Arizona Bowl because of COVID-19 cases within the program and in 2020 Boise State voted not to participate in a bowl game after going 5-2 during the COVID-shortened season. The Broncos lost to ex-Boise State head coach Chris Petersen and Washington in the 2019 Las Vegas Bowl.
North Texas: The Mean Green begin a new era under Morris, who returns to Texas after spending four years as head coach of Incarnate Word and five years as an assistant at Texas Tech.
Boise State: Avalos continues his pursuit to return the Broncos to national prominence after Boise State finished with four losses for the second straight season – the first time that’s happened since 1996-98, Boise State’s first three years in the FBS. The Broncos did finish with 10 wins for the 18th time in 24 seasons, and have gone undefeated in MWC play three of the last four seasons. But they haven’t cracked the AP Top 25 in either of Avalos’s two seasons after being ranked every season from 2002-2020.
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