Scott Matlock lined up for the first time at tight end for a goal-line play during Boise State’s fall camp.
Still wearing the orange practice jersey that designates defensive players, the 6-foot-4, 295-defensive tackle out of Homedale High School got lost in the coverage and stood wide open in the end zone.
He dropped that pass.
But he hasn’t faltered since.
Matlock capped off Boise State’s 27-3 victory over Utah State on Saturday with a 3-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. The win marked the Broncos’ 22nd in a row in conference openers dating back to 2000.
“I mean, a fat-guy touchdown. I’m fired up for Scotty. He does everything right,” Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier said. “He’s always in on that package in goal line. He’s in there annihilating guys on that specific play, and coach (Tim) Plough made a great call doing the play-action off of it.
“We run it every single day, so Scott has gotten better at catching it.”
— Mountain West (@MountainWest) September 25, 2021
Although Matlock said his teammates gave him a hard time for bobbling the catch, the play was the most anticipated of the game.
“When it came through over the headset, everyone knew it was Scott’s play,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. “... He was pretty open, so it was a nice throw for Hank to put in the old bread basket for him. Scott’s been a tremendous warrior. We don’t have a ton of depth at his position, and how much he plays and how consistent he is.”
Avalos credits Matlock with being one of the Broncos’ defensive leaders. He totaled five tackles against the Aggies, including a sack in the second quarter, which was his third sack of the season and the fifth of the redshirt junior’s career. He also blocked a 41-yard field-goal attempt by Utah State kicker Connor Coles in the first quarter.
Last season, Matlock blocked a PAT against BYU and a Colorado State field goal that was returned for a touchdown.
Matlock’s TD reception on Saturday may have been a collegiate first, but it wasn’t entirely out of the ordinary. At Homedale, Matlock lined up everywhere from the offensive line to tight end to defensive line to linebacker.
“It’s awesome to be on offense and help the team more and get in there and block,” Matlock said. “... After that first run attempt kind of got stuffed, I kind of had a feeling it was coming. But it’s just going out there and executing and doing your job. As soon as I went on the route, I knew I was wide open, so it was just a matter of catching it.”
Before Matlock’s TD catch, Boise State’s most recent reception by a lineman came on Oct. 5, 2016, when offensive lineman Steven Baggett registered a 4-yard catch against Colorado State.
The Broncos also had a “fat-guy touchdown” last season, but it wasn’t designed. Right tackle Nick Crabtree recovered a fumble in the end zone for a score against Colorado State.
Mother knows best
Khalil Shakir didn’t let his mom down Saturday.
After nearly reaching the end zone on a 16-yard reception with 10:53 left in the third quarter, Shakir’s mom made a request.
“Imma need you to hit the end zone. ... please and thank you. @king_khalil2,” wrote Mona Tuamoheloa-Shakir on Twitter.
Three plays later, the 6-0, 190-pound senior receiver obliged, hauling in a 3-yard touchdown pass from Bachmeier in the corner of the end zone. The catch put the Broncos up 17-0.
Shakir caught seven passes for 113 yards. It was his eighth career 100-yard game, which is tied for seventh in school history. He also took multiple snaps out of the wildcat formation and rushed for 16 yards. And his best catch didn’t even count — it came when he outleaped a defender and made a grab just out of bounds while crashing to the ground.
“I don’t want to take anything away from him, but it’s just Khalil,” Bachmeier said. “When he makes a play like that, it’s normal. It’s not normal, but I’ve seen it so many times now, it’s normal.”
Jones leaves with injury, later returns
Redshirt senior safety Tyreque Jones picked off Utah State quarterback Logan Bonner on the Aggies’ third play of the game.
It was Jones’ second interception of the season and third of his career. The pick set up Jonah Damas’ 28-yard field goal.
But Jones left the field and entered the injury tent on Utah State’s second possession, and he was later shown on the CBS broadcast walking to the locker room.
Jones returned in the second half and finished with four tackles, the interception and one pass breakup.
The Broncos had two interceptions and a forced fumble against the Aggies, increasing their season takeaway total to 12.
Redshirt junior cornerback Tyric LeBeauf picked off a pass in the second quarter, and Jackson Cravens was credited with a strip-sack in the fourth quarter that was recovered by edge Demitri Washington.
Broncos without starting offensive lineman
Boise State was without one starting offensive lineman Saturday against Utah State, and the Broncos didn’t have any players out because of COVID-19, the program announced before kickoff.
Center Kekaniokoa Holomalia-Gonzalez missed his fourth straight game for undisclosed reasons. Sixth-year center Donte Harrington started in his place.
Defensive tackle Divine Obichere, who joined the program last year as a junior college transfer, was also out for undisclosed reasons.
Pass rusher Aisa Kelemete (Highland High) was on the inactive list. He announced on social media earlier this week that after the fifth surgery of his career, he’s stepping away from football.
Nose tackle Scale Igiehon remains absent after taking a leave of absence from the team for personal reasons.
Crowe, Herberg announce NIL deals
A pair of Boise State players from local high schools have had a pretty good week.
Running back Tyler Crowe (Skyview) and pass rusher Dylan Herberg (Timberline) — both of whom joined the Broncos as walk-ons — announced Wednesday that they earned full scholarships.
On Friday, they both announced endorsement deals with Ridley’s Family Markets.
Crowe was named 5A SIC Player of the Year in his final season at Skyview after racking up 69 tackles on defense and posting 1,830 rushing yards, 495 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns on offense. He led Boise State with 45 rushing yards against UTEP and contributed three carries for 20 yards on Saturday.
Herberg earned all-state honors after posting 105 tackles, five interceptions and 15 tackles for loss in his final season at Timberline.
College football players can monetize their name, image and likeness after the NCAA passed an interim policy in July as NIL laws went into effect in several states.
Shakir adds another deal
Shakir also revealed his latest endorsement deal on Friday — with Crave Delivery. He posted a photo on Instagram of he and his teammates seated around a picnic table for a meal.
Shakir announced his first endorsement deal last week, with Pro Image Sports.
Team captains Shakir and Kekaula Kaniho were joined by Shane Irwin and Jake Stetz as game captains. ... Boise State won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. ... Boise State was led onto the field by safety JL Skinner, who carried the Dan Paul Hammer. ... Wide receiver Octavius Evans carried the American flag and cornerback Caleb Biggers carried the Bleed Blue flag. ... The Boise State defense posted five straight scoreless quarters between the second half of Oklahoma State and the first three quarters against Utah State. The last time that happened was 2017 over the second through fourth quarters against BYU and the first half against SDSU. ... The Broncos have won 20 consecutive Mountain West regular-season games. ... Skinner led the Broncos in tackles for the fourth straight game, with a career-high tying 13, plus a pass breakup.