BOISE — Sometimes what you’re looking for comes when you least expect it.
Struggling to find a reliable and productive No. 2 running back behind starter Jay Ajayi after Aaron Baltazar’s season-ending ACL injury, the Boise State football team may have found another freshman to replace him.
Redshirt freshman Devan Demas, who had only three carries on the season entering Saturday’s game vs. Wyoming and has been playing on the scout team in practice, burst onto the scene for a team-high 73 yards on 12 carries vs. the Cowboys.
“He’s been doing something all year,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “He’s been down on our scout team and he does a really good job. He’s a different kind of back than some of those other guys are. He has a very good burst and he can find a crease.
“We’ve been watching him for the past couple weeks and we finally said we need to get him incorporated and see if he can do something in the game and he did a nice job.”
Baltazar emerged as the No. 2 running back as a true freshman and had 50 rushes for 234 yards and two touchdowns before suffering the season-ending knee injury on Sept. 28 vs. Southern Miss.
And both Jack Fields and Derrick Thomas have struggled to take advantage of the extra carries since. Thomas had eight carries for 17 yards against Wyoming and Fields had four carries for nine yards.
Demas, a 5-foot-8, 172-pound freshman from Houston, Texas, earned varsity letters in both football and track and field in high school. He accumulated 2,114 all-purpose yards and 26 touchdowns during his senior season at Cypress Creek High.
After his performance Saturday, the speedster could see even more playing time.
“He’s been awesome,” Petersen said. “He works his tail off. He’s almost always one of the scout players of the week because he’s doing such a good job and he’s earned and deserved those reps.”
LAWRENCE MOVES UP SACK LIST: Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence had two sacks Saturday against Wyoming to give him 10.5 on the season, which is tied for the fifth-most in a season in school history.
The junior now has 20.0 career sacks, which is tied for the seventh most in school history. Lawrence has a sack in six consecutive games.
He stripped the ball from Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith’s hands in the first quarter Saturday to help set up Boise State’s go-ahead touchdown drive.
“He is usually the guy on defense that will be around the ball and make something happen,” Petersen said. “We needed that. He’s a play maker.”
DEAYON FINALLY GETS TO RETURN INTERCEPTION: Defensive back Donte Deayon entered Saturday’s game against Wyoming with three interceptions but had yet to accumulate any return yards after the picks.
That changed Saturday when he intercepted a pass near midfield and returned it 15 yards to the Cowboys’ 39-yard line.
“It felt good attacking the ball and hanging onto it to get some return yards,” Deayon said. “Against Colorado State, I jumped the route but dropped it, so it felt good to hang onto it to get some return yards.”
Deayon is tied with Bryan Douglas for the team lead with four interceptions.
MORE ON LENO: Boise State went into the bag of tricks again Saturday and gave senior offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. the chance to have the ball in his hands.
Leno took a pitch on a hook-and-ladder play late in the first quarter but was tackled out of bounds for a loss of two yards.
“We were just trying to get the big fella in the end zone and we couldn’t quite get it done,” Petersen said. “He did a great job because he had a couple guys on him and he was bobbling it and tape all over his hands and he still hung on. I was proud of him.”