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Washington’s Chris Petersen exits a winner in Las Vegas Bowl

Updated December 21, 2019 - 10:41 pm

Two eras ended Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

The Las Vegas Bowl said goodbye to the facility and its affiliation with the Mountain West conference. And Chris Petersen coached his final game at Washington, going out in style with a convincing 38-7 win over his old team, No. 18 Boise State.

“It’s never about one person,” said Petersen whose Huskies compiled a record of 55-26 in his six seasons. “It’s just not. It’s about these guys playing really, really well.”

As Petersen steps away, he turns the program over to Jimmy Lake, who will be elevated from defensive coordinator. Lake’s defense held Boise State to 266 yards and forced three turnovers.

Jacob Eason completed 22 of 32 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown for Washington (8-5). Defensive back Elijah Molden was named MVP after making nine tackles and an interception.

Boise State (12-2) lost for the first time as an Football Bowl Subdivision member at Sam Boyd. The Broncos had been 4-0 in the Las Vegas Bowl and had won all three of their games against UNLV.

Here are three takeaways:

1. An AD needs to make a run at Petersen

Once Petersen sits out a season, he should be high on a number of athletic directors’ coaching lists next year.

He showed his proclivity for keeping opposing defenses off balance on the drive that put the Huskies in full control. They used a surprised pitch and then a reverse to set up a touchdown for a 14-0 lead with 6:46 left in the first half.

As for his future, Petersen said he looked forward to waking up Sunday morning without any coaching duties.

“It’s going to be awesome,” he said. “And the next day after that, too, it’s going to be awesome. Maybe in a month, it might not be so awesome figuring out what to do next, but it’s going to be pretty good for a while.”

Whether Petersen would listen to coaching overtures is difficult to say, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

2. Second-guessing Harsin

As Boise State quarterback Jaylon Henderson led a late-season surge, Hank Bachmeier sat on the bench. Bachmeier, the top-rated recruit in program history who began the season as the starter, hadn’t played since Nov. 2.

Henderson didn’t practice Wednesday and Thursday because of an illness, and a rusty Bachmeier started and never looked comfortable in throwing two interceptions. By the time the Broncos went to Henderson early in the third quarter, they were down 24-0.

Harsin offered the bizarre answer that illness had nothing to do with Henderson not starting, and he defended not playing Bachmeier late in the season.

“That wasn’t the key to losing the game,” Harsin said. “The keys were turnovers and losing the field position battle.”

3. Mountain West deserves credit

The Las Vegas Bowl doesn’t become its current success without the accomplishments and support of the Mountain West teams. Boise State had 8,000 to 9,000 fans at this game, and that support shouldn’t be discounted.

Now the pressure is on the bowl to do even better at 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium, where the Pac-12 will face a Big Ten or Southeastern Conference team the next six years.

If the bowl gets Southern California-Alabama, no problem. But Colorado-Purdue might not be so attractive.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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