BOISE, Idaho - T-shirts that read “Holy Toledo! Another Bronco 1st Down” were the clothing items of choice at Bronco Stadium Saturday night.
A better slogan might have used “touchdown” instead of “first down,” because Boise State didn't end up needing many first downs to dispatch the University of Toledo, but the fourth-ranked Broncos sure did pile up a lot of points.
Boise State amassed 36 points on just 35 plays in the first half and rolled to a 57-14 victory over the Rockets (3-3), who also lost sophomore quarterback Austin Dantin and a few other key players during the game due to injury.
Dantin took a hard hit from Boise State freshman safety Jonathan Brown on a run up the middle early in the fourth quarter and remained motionless as trainers rushed to his aid. Dantin was eventually wheeled off the field on a stretcher but was up walking around wearing a neck brace after the game.
“Austin had a little bit of a concussion syndrome, along with a little bit of a sprained neck area,” UT coach Tim Beckman said. “More of that will be determined on Monday, but all X-rays were negative.”
Other Rockets sidelined during the game were freshman running back David Fluellen and sophomore defensive end T.J. Fatinikun. Fluellen suffered a left knee sprain and will miss 2-3 weeks, according to Beckman, and Fatinikun has a high right ankle sprain, although Beckman said he doesn't expect Fatinikun to miss any time.
Redshirt freshman backup quarterback Terrance Owens entered in relief of Dantin, who was 13-of-18 passing for 167 yards before departing, and finished what Dantin started by connecting with junior tight end Danny Noble on a 7-yard touchdown pass with 10:55 remaining.
“It was very scary [seeing Dantin go down]. He's a good player, and we need him,” said Owens, who was 8-of-11 passing for 55 yards in the first road contest of his career.
Boise State (5-0) scored on its first possession, as junior quarterback Kellen Moore was 2-of-2 for 36 yards on the opening drive that covered 73 yards in only five plays. Senior running back Jeremy Avery put the Broncos up 6-0 on a 4-yard run around right end from the Wildcat formation. Then holder Austin Pettis dashed right through UT's PAT defense for a successful 2-point conversion that made it 8-0 at the 12:51 mark.
After the Rockets went three-and-out, the Broncos' efficient offense went right back to work.
Wideout Chris Potter hit tight end Kyle Efaw for a 26-yard pass play after receiving a backwards pass from Moore near the right sideline, and two plays later, Moore found Efaw in the back left corner of the end zone for a 2-yard TD pass that extended the Broncos lead to 15-0 at the 7:42 mark.
Dantin wouldn't be deterred, however, as he led his team down the field for its only score of the first half. Dantin was a perfect 4-of-4 passing on the drive and scored on a 4-yard TD run with 4:41 left in the first quarter.
“The team was jelling out there for a little bit,” said sophomore wide receiver Eric Page, who had 11 catches for 120 yards. “Austin was playing great, just like Purdue. He just went right back to that mode, and we were spreading the ball around, and it was looking good.”
Dantin was rewarded for his efforts by getting benched by Beckman, who decided before the game that he would bring in Owens for the Rockets' third possession.
“We felt that T.O. deserved that opportunity,” Beckman said. “We had it set that T.O. had the third series, and Austin knew it and knew exactly what had to be done.”
By the time Dantin re-entered the contest, the Broncos had extended their lead to 22-7. Owens fumbled while being hit on third down during his first series, and that led to Avery's 12-yard TD run 31 seconds into the second quarter.
Boise State tallied its third touchdown after UT's third turnover – Thomas' fumble on an 18-yard reception from Dantin at the Broncos' 37-yard line. Three plays later, the left-handed Moore rolled left on a playaction pass and threw deep to Titus Young for a 51-yard score.
All told, UT turned the ball over five times.
“The turnovers killed us,” Owens said. “I had a couple myself, and I need to work on protecting the ball.”
Avery posted his third rushing touchdown on a 5-yard jaunt, again from the Wildcat, with 30 seconds left in the second quarter that gave Boise State a 36-7 advantage at halftime.
Dantin threw his second interception on UT's first possession of the second half, and it was returned 36 yards the other way by defensive end Shea McClellin to make it 43-7.
UT followed with a quick three-and-out, and Boise State followed with yet another touchdown, a 33-yard pass from Moore to Tyler Shoemaker with 7:21 left in the third quarter.
Owens came back in on the Rockets' next series, but fumbled while getting sacked by J.C. Percey. Tyrone Crawford recovered for the Broncos, and Matt Kaiserman cashed in on the mistake with a 1-yard TD run that made it 57-7 with 2:03 left in the third quarter.
Boise State outgained the Rockets 500-287 and ended up scoring 57 points on 63 plays, with 25 first downs. UT, conversely, ran 60 plays for 14 points and had 18 first downs.
“We still have a little ways to go,” Beckman said. “They're a very good football team, and credit goes to them and coach [Chris] Petersen. They're a very, very physical football team and they play the game the way it's supposed to be played.”43.60698 -116.1934 ERROR: Template storyimage.ldo not found in theme default for section UT!
T-shirts that read “Holy Toledo! Another Bronco 1st Down” were the clothing items of choice at Bronco Stadium Saturday night. A better slogan might have used “touchdown” instead of “first down,” because Boise State didn't end up needing many first downs to dispatch the University of Toledo, but the fourth-ranked Broncos sure did pile up a lot of points.