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Boise, Idaho • The expected battle of top-flight running backs did not materialize Thursday night when BYU squared off against Boise State.
BYU's all-time leading rusher, Jamaal Williams, injured his ankle in practice earlier in the week, then tweaked it again in warmups. He did not play in the first half.
His counterpart, Boise State's Jeremy McNichols, caught a 76-yard touchdown pass on the third play of the game to give the Broncos a quick 7-0 lead.
Not quite packed
Late-night kickoffs, especially those on Thursday nights, are taking their toll on Boise State fans, even when they support the No. 14 team in the nation.
A couple thousand empty seats were evident at Albertsons Stadium (capacity 36,387) as the Broncos played host to the team many fans consider their biggest rival, BYU.
At that, several thousand BYU fans bolstered the attendance figures.
Boise State was coming off a late kickoff (8:30 p.m.) last Saturday, and will play another on Friday, Nov. 4 against San Jose State.
Linebacker Butch Pau'u was a game-time decision after aggravating a knee injury in last week's 28-21 win over Mississippi State, but started on Thursday night against BSU.
Cornerback Troy Warner, battling a hamstring injury since the opener, also played.
Offensive lineman Thomas Shoaf did not play after spraining an ankle last week. Sophomore Austin Hoyt started in his place.
Offensive lineman Ului Lapuaho and defensive tackle Meti Taliauli also did not play due to injury. Travis Tuiloma made his first start of the season in Taliauli's absence.
Starting right tackle Mario Yakoo and starting linebacker Gabe Perez did not play for Boise State.
In the land of trick plays, the Cougars didn't try any in the first half on Thursday night. They did try a fake punt, which was snuffed.
They attempted one last week, but no receivers were open downfield after Williams took a pitch from Taysom Hill, so the senior running back kept the ball and ran for 7 yards. Hill said he likes having a couple trick plays at his disposal.
"It is always fun as an offense to switch things up and have some of those in our back pocket, so going into it we know that 50 percent of the time they are not going to work, but when they do they are pretty good. So, we will keep at it," Hill said.
Scouts from the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants and Washington attended the game. … BYU's alumni flags were carried out by former defensive linemen Hans Olsen and Harland Ah You and former receiver Parker Mangum, brother of current backup quarterback Tanner Mangum, who carried out the American flag. Olsen is from nearby Weiser, Idaho.