RENO -- The scoreboard didn't tell the story. Looking at senior center Cody Johnson did.
Seconds after Boise State's 44-7 win over Nevada on Saturday before 20,247 fans at Mackay Stadium, Johnson stood motionless on the 50-yard line. While everyone else was shaking hands, Johnson couldn't. He had just seen his team's chance to become bowl eligible squandered in demoralizing fashion and in his last game ever, no less. He eventually dropped to the turf with his head in his hands.
Meanwhile, Johnson's teammates tried to make sense of it all.
"At least we could have gave it a game," said fellow senior Nate Burleson. "That would at least soften the blow. Our self esteem, it's a little low. They ran through our conference and played like champions today."
Behind the rushing of Brock Forsey, the Broncos won the Western Athletic Conference without a single blemish on their league record, the first team to do that since BYU in 1996. Forsey rushed for four touchdowns, increasing his NCAA leading total to 29, and had 187 yards on 27 carries. His last carry with under 12 minutes left in the game went for seven yards and made him Boise State's single season rushing leader.
Forsey, who ran with unbelievably ease against Nevada, now has rushed for 1,533 yards this season, seven more than Cedric Minton, who set the record in 1978.
"He's a great player. He reminds me of Chance," said Nevada coach Chris Tormey, who would've liked to have had Chance Kretschmer in this game, for this season. "He runs hard and falls forward. Their offensive line is also pretty impressive."
The Wolf Pack's wasn't.
Nevada (5-7 overall, 4-4 WAC) only had 63 yards of total offense and quarterback Zack Threadgill, who was never fully recovered from a shoulder injury, struggled, finishing 3-of-11 for 28 yards. The Wolf Pack had more kickoff return yards than offense in the first half. And the score reflected that.
Boise State (11-1, 8-0) led 17-0 after the first quarter and 27-0 at halftime. It scored on five of its six possessions in the first half.
"We dug that hole ourselves. All of sudden we were down 14-0," Threadgill said. "We were up for this game. We were emotionally ready for this game. I wasn't able to make the throws I usually make. It's a real bad way to go out, for lack of better words."
Unable to make throws, McQueen grad Jeff Rowe had to. After throwing his eighth consecutive incomplete pass, Threadgill was pulled after Nevada's first series in the third quarter. But prior to Rowe throwing pass, the Broncos drove 89 yards on six plays and quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie capped things off with a 5-yard fade to Jay Swillie that made it 34-0.
Rowe then entered and completed his first five passes, including one to Burleson for nine yards, his first of the game which also gave him his NCAA leading 132nd of the season. In 1 1/2 minutes, Rowe completed his first four passes for 29 yards, one more yard than Threadgill had in more than two quarters.
Rowe's success was short lived, however, as was sacked on fourth down, which eventually led to Nick Calaycay's 32-yard field goal that made it 37-0. Rowe and the Wolf Pack then went three and out on their next two possessions, and the was followed by Forsey's 38-yard TD run on the next play from scrimmage as the Broncos led 44-0.
Rowe finished with 97 yards passing, but was sacked four times. Nevada only had 38 yards rushing in the game.
Afterwards, Tormey deflected questions about his team's lack of intensity.
When you get down by as much as were down, it's kind of hard to jump around on the sidelines. We let it get away from us," Tormey said. "If you can't run it and can't throw it, there's not many options left. They're a great team. We struggled running the football. Defensively, we couldn't stop the run. They've been doing the same thing to everybody in the conference. We ran into a very good football team today."
Rowe's 17-yard TD pass to Burleson with 5:31 left in the game avoided Nevada being shutout at home for the first time since 1966. It also hasn't been shutout in any game since 1980, a span of 22 seasons, the longest such streak in the WAC.
"Yeah, thank god," said Tormey, who went to say he wouldn't have wanted to be known as the team to break that streak.
Burleson finished with seven catches for 71 yards and became Nevada's all-time leader in receptions with 138. He broke Trevor Insley's record of 134 with his 15-yard catch midway through the fourth quarter. He finished five receptions shy of the NCAA record.
"We wanted him to get him the ball," Tormey said. "They covered him a couple of times. It wasn't for lack of effort he didn't catch his 12 passes. (But ) it also wasn't part of the game plan (to get him the record)."
Now after his third year, Tormey has a 10-24 record in Reno. At 5-7, this was easily Tormey's most successful season after taking over a program in shambles in 2000, when he went 2-10.
"5-7, you can't say that's successful," Threadgill said. "We came a long way (this season). I'm sick of saying that, though. This season could very easily been a little different. We let a couple games get away from us we wish we could have back."
That obviously goes for Johnson, as well, who fell one win shy of being on the school's first non-losing team since 1998.