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Ajayi powers No. 25 Boise State over Utah State

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Jay Ajayi ran for a career-high 229 yards and five touchdowns, and No. 25 Boise State rolled past Utah State 50-19 on Saturday night and secured a spot in the Mountain West title game.

The Broncos (10-2, 7-1), who kept alive their hopes of playing in a New Year’s Day bowl game, won their 13th straight home game. They will host Fresno State for the conference championship on Saturday.

Utah State (9-4, 6-2) dropped its first November road game since 2009 and failed to return to the conference title game after representing the Mountain Division last year.

With the division title on the line in a game that boasted the Mountain West’s top offense in Boise State and top defense in Utah State, the matchup was decisively one-sided.

Boise State racked up 498 total yards and scored touchdowns on its first five possessions against the nation’s fifth-best scoring defense.

Ajayi, who eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the seventh consecutive game, ran for the most yards of any single runner this season against the Aggies’ 17th-ranked run defense.

Boise State’s Grant Hedrick turned in an 18-of-24 passing performance for 191 yards and two touchdowns.

In the game’s opening moments it appeared as though the teams might be gearing up for a high-scoring duel.

Utah State’s LaJuan Hunt raced 55 yards on the Aggies’ first offensive play, but the drive stalled and then ended when Nick Diaz missed a 39-yard field goal wide right.

On its first possession, Boise State marched 79 yards in nine plays, scoring on a 9-yard run by Ajayi. Dan Goodale’s extra point gave the Broncos a 7-0 lead.

On the Aggies’ next play from scrimmage, Boise State safety Darian Thompson made a leaping interception at the Utah State 45.

On a six-play drive that included a razzle-dazzle, 24-yard pass from tight end Thomas Sperbeck to Hedrick, Boise State scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Hedrick to Alec Dhaenens to build a 14-0 lead.

Utah State responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 9-yard touchdown run by Kent Myers that made it 14-7.

However, the Broncos kept the pressure on by answering with a six-play, 72-yard drive that ended with a jaw-dropping run by Ajayi.

From the Aggies 18, Ajayi took a handoff up the middle and appeared to be stuffed at the line before bouncing backward and spinning toward the outside. He outran a host of Utah State defenders to the far corner of the end zone.

Utah State’s Travis Seefeldt blocked the extra point attempt, and Jalen Davis scooped up the ball and raced 98 yards for a defensive two-point conversion, leaving Boise State with a 20-9 lead.

After forcing a three-and-out, Boise State marched 62 yards in six plays and scored on an 8-yard run by Ajayi. Goodale’s extra point, pushed Boise State’s lead to 27-9.

On the ensuing kickoff, Jeremy McNichols stripped Utah State’s Davis, and Chris Santini recovered at the Aggies 22. After having two scoring plays called back for penalties, the Broncos’ third trip into the end zone counted when Sperbeck shed three tacklers near the goal line to make it 34-9.

Utah State added a 46-yard field goal by Diaz to trim the deficit to 34-12 late in the second quarter.

Ajayi added scoring runs of 62 and 1 yards in the fourth quarter as Boise State put the game away.

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