Bart Hendricks never had the chance to play against the nation’s more glamorous quarterbacks. Today, however, he proved he could be just as effective.
Hendricks ran for two touchdowns, threw for another and caught a late scoring pass as Boise State beat Texas-El Paso 38-23 in the Humanitarian Bowl.
Asked about his place in college football’s statistical hierarchy, Hendricks credited his teammates and said he never thinks of where he ranks against the likes of Josh Heupel, Drew Brees or Chris Weinke.
“That would be nice to be compared to those guys,” he said. “But it’s all the other players who make it happen.”
Hendricks was 17-of-29 for 247 yards and ran for another 57 yards. The two-time player of the year in the Big West was selected the game’s most valuable player for the Broncos (10-2).
It was a rousing send-off for Boise State coach Dirk Koetter, working in his last game before taking over at Arizona State. His voice broke when he was asked if he realized he had coached his last game in Boise.
“It’s hit me right between the eyes,” Koetter said.
It also extended the Broncos’ homefield winning streak to 14 games and marked the second straight year they won their hometown bowl game. Last year, Boise State beat Louisville 34-31.
Hendricks gave the Broncos a 24-10 lead with a 77-yard TD run on Boise State’s first play from scrimmage in the second half. It started as a keeper to the left, but Hendricks cut into open field and outraced two defenders.
“It’s called running scared,” Hendricks said. “You just keep running until you don’t have to run anymore.”
He also worked the clock in the closing minute of the first half before scoring on a 12-yard run with 18 seconds left, giving the Broncos a 17-10 lead.
UTEP (8-4) was making its first bowl trip since 1988 and only the second since 1967. After winning a share of the Western Athletic Conference title, the Miners looked out of place on the frosty blue turf in Idaho.
A few times, they ran into each other in the backfield. Their offense, which averaged 32 points a game to rank 22nd nationally, didn’t get moving until late in the third quarter.
“A lot of our miscommunication was a direct correlation of the crowd noise,” UTEP coach Gary Nord said. “It’s a great atmosphere here.”
Hendricks capped Boise State’s first possession with a 28-yard TD strike to Jay Swillie. And he capped his career by grabbing an 11-yard pass from receiver Andre Banks with 3:35 on the clock.
“It hung up there in the air for about half an hour,” Nord said.
Unknown Talent Led Nation in TDs
Coming out of high school in Reno, Nev., Hendricks had only two Division I scholarship offers: Boise State and Nevada.
But he ended his senior season by leading the nation with 35 touchdowns and a 170.6 efficiency rating, better than Heupel, Brees of Purdue or Weinke. And he was tough against the Miners, who pounded him relentlessly all day.
“Bart wasn’t as sharp today as I’ve seen him but he had a gutty performance, especially with that long run,” Koetter said.
Boise State broke it open with a daring fake punt on the first play of the fourth quarter. On fourth-and-4, punter Jeff Edwards stepped into a channel on the right side of the line and ran 22 yards for a first down.
On the next play, Brock Forsey went for a 42-yard TD run and a 31-13 lead.
Broncos Defense Tallies Five Sacks
The Broncos won with defense, too.
They didn’t touch UTEP quarterback Rocky Perez in the first half. But after increasing the pressure in the second half, Boise State sacked Perez five times in the first 10 minutes of the third quarter.
“We changed our protection scheme in the second half to try to release more receivers and open it up a little bit,” Perez said. “We thought they were going to be in coverage more, but they ended up blitzing us.”
The Miners pulled to 31-23 with 7:45 to play when Chris Porter scored on a 3-yard run. A face-mask penalty helped UTEP start the drive at Boise State’s 35, and a pass interference call moved the ball to the 2.
Porter led the Miners with 134 rushing yards. UTEP’s All-American tight end, Brian Natkin, had four catches for 69 yards.