Boise State Hawaii15.JPG

Boise State running back Robert Mahone (34) carries the ball against Hawaii during a game Saturday at Albertson’s Stadium in Boise.

BOISE — Boise State established a new Albertsons Stadium attendance record with the announced crowd of 36,902 for Saturday night's 59-37 win over Hawaii.

The crowd topped the previous record of 36,864 set against BYU in 2012.

The game was announced early Saturday afternoon as a sellout. It’s the first sellout at Albertsons Stadium since 36,836 watched the return of former coach Chris Petersen with Washington in 2015.

"That's awesome, and that's how Albertsons Stadium should be," Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. "We have a great fan base that when they show up here and support their football team and we all get together on a Saturday night, I think we're all pretty effective.

"It was to our advantage to get that 12th man. They showed up early in the game. It was hard for Hawaii to go out there and perform and hear and do all those things."

Boise State’s previous high this season was 36,498 against Air Force on Sept. 20.

There were many reasons for the big crowd. Saturday was Homecoming and it’s also the only home game during a six-week span from late September until early November. The Broncos also entered the game ranked No. 14 in the both national polls.

Hawaii was whistled for two first starts in the first quarter. Opponents have now been whistled for 38 false starts inside Albertsons Stadium since the start of the 2018 season, which is the most of any venue in the country.

"This is what Boise has built," Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich said. "They've built an environment that's as tough as any we've gone to play in. It's a big effort. This is kind of a benchmark."

BRONCOS WELCOME BACK 2009 FIESTA BOWL CHAMPS

Boise State welcomed back nearly 40 players from the 2009 Fiesta Bowl championship team Saturday night as they celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their undefeated, historic season.

The 2009 team became the first team in school history to go 14-0 and beat TCU, 17-10, to win their second Fiesta Bowl in four years.

Video highlights of the win against TCU were shown throughout the game, and the players were recognized on the field at halftime.

“The confidence they played with, the togetherness of that football team, you don’t have a season like that unless you have a lot of those things together,” said Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, who was the offensive coordinator of that team. “That was a very talented group. That was a special year, 14-0, and you get a chance to play a team you lost to the year before in a bowl game and go back and have a chance to play them again and right some of those wrongs. Those guys did that.”

After going 12-1 the season before with their lone loss coming against TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl, the Broncos opened the 2009 season with a 19-8 win against Oregon at then-Broncos Stadium, a game famously known for Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount punching Boise State linebacker Byron Hout during the postgame handshake.

From there, Boise State completed its second straight undefeated regular season before beating TCU in a battle of BCS crashers.

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Boise State was ranked No. 4 in the final AP poll.

“That’s very inspiring, those guys paved the way for us,” wide receiver Akilian Butler said. “Without them there wouldn’t be any of this. Just to have them come back and be able to watch us on the Blue, that’s very special to us. Having those guys here is enough for us. It’s a lot of motivation.”

The team also honored Dan Paul, a fullback on the 2009 team who died in July, when they came onto the field in pregame. Matt Pistone, who wears No. 47 just like Paul did, was the first player to enter the field. Pistone gestured to the north video board, which displayed a memorial to Paul before the rest of the team came out behind him.

Paul’s family served as honorary captains for the coin toss.

Boise State also honored Jarred Rome, a two-time Olympic Discus Thrower and member of the Boise State Hall of Fame who died in September, with a moment of silence before the playing of the national anthem.

BRONCOS BOWL ELIGIBLE AGAIN

The win gave Boise State six wins and made them bowl eligible for a 22nd straight season. Boise State has been selected for a bowl in each of the last 17 seasons, but which is tied with Wisconsin for the fifth-longest streak in the country.

Boise State has finished with at least six wins in 22 consecutive seasons, but didn’t get picked for a bowl game in 2001 despite finishing with a 8-4 record.

ALSTON WINS SLAM DUNK CONTEST

The Boise State men’s basketball team held a slam dunk contest and open scrimmage for fans inside Bronco Gym prior to the football game. Redshirt junior Derrick Alston Jr. won the slam dunk contest by topping RJ Williams in the finals.

Alston also was the top scorer in the scrimmage, while Arizona transfer Emmanuel Akot impressed in his first live action in front of fans.

“I think we have the mentality of a preseason NBA team the way we play. I think our offense looks pretty good but we have a lot of work to do on our defense,” coach Leon Rice said. “Especially in the next two weeks. It’s coming quick.”

Boise State will hold a private, closed scrimmage against Utah in Salt Lake City on Oct. 26, before an exhibition game against West Coast Baptist inside ExtraMile Arena for fans on Oct. 31. The regular season opener is Nov. 5 at home against Life Pacific.

“I think we have some tools to do some things this year that maybe we haven’t been able to do in the past, but we have to get our defense to catch up,” Rice said. “We have some talented guys offensively but we are really going to have to buckle down in the gym and work on our defense.”

BRONCO BITS

Long snapper Daniel Cantrell led the Broncos onto the field with The Hammer. … Five different players took snaps for the Broncos at quarterback in the first half: Hank Bachmeier, Chase Cord, Jaylon Henderson, John Hightower and Khalil Shakir. ... Boise State's defense forced three turnovers in the first half for the first time since the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl against Oregon. ... Hightower's 42-yard touchdown catch was his 10th career touchdown of at least 40 yards. ... Khafari Buffalo had his career interception on the final play of the game. ... Boise State's six straight wins marks the fourth consecutive season with a six-game winning streak at some point. 

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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