BOISE — Jonah Dalmas picked a bad time for a rare miss.
The Boise State sophomore had made 14 of his first 15 field goals to start his career, but his 36-yard field goal attempt was partially blocked with 2:05 remaining, and the Broncos suffered a heartbreaking 21-20 loss to the Oklahoma State at Albertsons Stadium.
A missed kick in a big game? Boise State fans have been there before. And this one stings just like the others.
Hosting the first Big 12 team on The Blue in regular season history, the Broncos hoped to make a statement and prove they still belong in the national conversation. But they had two costly turnovers and just 64 yards in a scoreless second half to drop to a disappointing 1-2.
"To come down to the wire like this and not be able to finish - we pride ourselves on being able to finish," Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. "We've got to do a better job as coaches starting and creating mechanisms that help us be able to finish these games at the end here.
"Through these two losses early on we're going to be able to learn a ton that's going to carry us forward as we start moving into conference play."
Linebacker Riley Whimpey gave the Broncos a chance when he forced a fumble that safety JK Skinner recovered at the Oklahoma State 41-yard line with 3:22 left. Skinner actually scored on the play, but officials blew it dead and said the Oklahoma State player was down prior to the fumble.
The play was reviewed and Boise State got the ball at the 41-yard line - but not the touchdown.
"Yeah, they blew the whistle so you know what it is," Avalos said. "At that point we're lucky enough it got reviewed and we got the ball at that spot. But yes. I's part of the game."
The Broncos moved into field goal range, but they were unable to score a touchdown, leaving it up to the almost-automatic Dalmas to put them ahead.
It was unclear in the immediate aftermath if the kick was blocked or just hit badly by Dalmas. It was a low line drive that sailed to the outside of the left goal post. Oklahoma State's Jason Taylor II was eventually credited with a block.
"It looked like we had a little bit of leakage on the left side there on the protection and the guy got his hand up," Avalos said. "We'll have to go back and make sure we look at that and clean that up. We've got to be better with our protection."
Boise State dropped to 123-11 at home since 2000. They also fell to 16-11 against teams from a Power 5 conference.
The Broncos had trouble slowing down Oklahoma State’s rushing attack, which entered the game ranked No. 112 nationally at just 95 yards per game through two lackluster games against Missouri State and Tulsa. The Cowboys rushed 57 times for 246 yards.
Cowboys running back Jaylen Warren did most of the damage himself, rushing for 218 yards on 32 carries.
"We have to do a better job up front," Avalos said. "We have to be able to fix that within the first half and not have to wait until halftime to make those adjustments."
Boise State, meanwhile, had more trouble rushing the ball. The Broncos finished with just 61 yards rushing on 35 carries.
The Broncos had -2 rushing yards in the second half on 10 carries.
Hank Bachmeier completed 22 of 34 for 242 and a touchdown, but threw a costly interception in the fourth quarter with Boise State trailing by a point.
Boise State led 20-7 when the game turned late in the second quarter after the Broncos' Rodney Robinson was called for pass interference on third-and-18 on a ball that appeared uncatchable — and after the Oklahoma State wide receiver knocked him to the ground.
Oklahoma State scored on the next play, a 6-yard run from Warren, to cut the Boise State lead to 20-14 with 2:10 left in the half. George Holani then fumbled on Boise State’s next play, and the Cowboys took over at the Broncos’ 21-yard line.
The Cowboys took advantage of the turnover and quarterback Spencer Sanders scored on a 1-yard run with six seconds left in the half to give Oklahoma State its first lead of the game at 21-20.
Leading by 13 points with barely 2 minutes left, the Broncos instead went into the locker room trailing in a game they seemed to be in complete control of.
Oklahoma State had the lead at the half despite passing for just seven yards on one completion.
"When we went in at halftime, I had to look at the scoreboard because I felt like we were behind by 20," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "I didn’t think we did anything other than one long run. I didn’t feel like we slowed them down or functioned very well on offense. I looked at the scoreboard and we were up by one, but it didn’t feel that way."
A Scott Matlock sack on Oklahoma State’s first possession of the third quarter pushed them out of field goal range and forced a punt. The Cowboys got into field goal range on their next possession, but a 41-yard attempt from Alex Hale sailed wide left to keep the score 21-20.
Boise State had just three yards in the third quarter on six plays thanks in part to Oklahoma State draining the clock with a pair of long drives. It wasn’t much better in the fourth quarter.
The Broncos hit the road next week for a rare 10 a.m. kickoff at Utah State. The game will air nationally on CBS.
"It really hurts, especially at home on The Blue," nickel Kekaula Kaniho said. "We take pride in defending The Blue. We're going to remember this feeling and take everything we learned from this one going forward for the rest of our season. We have a lot of football left to play and we're excited for those opportunities."
The Broncos started the game with the ball and got into field goal range for Dalmas, who connected from 40 yards out to give Boise State an early 3-0 lead.
After Oklahoma State went three-and-out on its first possession, Boise State extended the lead to 10-0 on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Bachmeier to Davis Koetter with 5:10 left in the first quarter.
Oklahoma State needed just one play to answer, scoring on a 75-yard run from Warren to cut the Boise State lead to 10-7 with 4:59 left in the first quarter.
Boise State made it 17-7 on a 5-yard run from Oregon transfer Cyrus Habibi-Likio with 10:07 left in the second quarter.
Dalmas added his second field goal of the game with 6:26 left in the half, this time from 36 yards, to extend the Bronco lead to 20-7.
The Broncos looked to be in good position — until the late swing in the first half that changed the game.
They looked to be in good position again late in the fourth quarter, but a tipped field goal changed everything.
"It hurts," Koetter said. "We just have to get back to work and focus on the details and the rest will take care of itself."