No. 5 Boise State holds off Air Force in 37-26 win
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Kellen Moore and the Boise State offense didn't have a lot of time to manufacture points as Air Force played keep away.
The Broncos managed to do enough when they did have the ball to hold off the Falcons.
Moore threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns and Doug Martin added two scores in a game the Broncos' offense spent a lot more time watching from the sidelines than on the field.
Thanks to a touchdown from special teams and a few plays by a weary defense, No. 5 Boise State beat Air Force 37-26 Saturday in the first meeting between the new Mountain West Conference rivals.
"I think the game went the way we hoped that it wouldn't ... where they control the ball and aren't giving you many possessions," said Bronco coach Chris Petersen, whose offense had less than 24 minutes to operate. "You better be efficient. You better not stub your toe because their offense is going to come right back and make you pay."
Moore was just that.
He finished 23 of 29 and the victory was the 45th of his career as a starter, putting him in a tie with former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy for the most wins all-time by a college quarterback. Moore has a chance to break the record Nov. 5 when the Broncos (7-0, 2-0) travel to UNLV.
His second TD pass of the day, a 19-yarder to Matt Miller, gave him 122 for his career and pushed him past former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer for fourth best all-time.
"It's a neat honor, but I'm in a fortunate situation," Moore said of tying the victory record. "I've been fortunate to play for four years with a lot of great guys, and there's a lot of us and a bunch of people that got this record."
But unlike so many of Moore's wins, this one didn't come easy.
Air Force (3-4, 0-3) came into the game with the nation's 10th best rushing attack, and they proved why. The Falcons' triple option caused confusion and created big holes, especially for fullback Mike DeWitt, who led the attack with 108 yards on 18 carries.
The Falcons rushed for 254 yards on 65 carries. Their ability to run the ball helped keep Moore & Co. off the field, dominating the time of possession battle 36:18 to 23:42.
Twice the Falcons pulled within a touchdown in the second half, giving a scare to the orange-clad Bronco faithful who aren't accustomed to seeing games so close in the second half.
But the Air Force defense, despite forcing two red zone turnovers, couldn't stop Boise State's high scoring offense when it needed to.
Martin rushed for 125 yards on 21 carries, and the Broncos rolled up 423 yards of total offense, despite the time disadvantage.
"There were parts where I thought we played reasonably well enough," said coach Troy Calhoun, whose team has lost three straight. "There is resiliency in this group and we just have to get them where they are able to operate together."
Calhoun also took responsibility for calling a fake punt late in the first half that backfired.
Down 13-6 and deep in their own territory, Air Force tried to catch Boise State off guard. With less than three minutes left in the second quarter, punter David Baska shoveled a pass to Mikel Hunter, who cut around left end and was wrapped up and ultimately stripped by J.C. Percy. Broncos linebacker Hunter White scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 15 yards for a touchdown that gave Boise State a 20-7 lead.
"It didn't work, and when it doesn't work it starts with the coach," Calhoun said. "In a calculated way, it is something that can work out. But I think you owe it to your guys to give them a chance to do that."
The Falcons added a field goal late in the first half, then kicker Parker Herrington booted another from 39-yards out midway through the third quarter to bring the Falcons within 20-13.
But Boise State responded, marching 77 yards in 11 plays capped by Martin's 15 yard dash up the middle after taking the snap in a Wildcat formation.
Air Force then bullied its way down the field once again, this time going 80 yards in 18 plays. Twice Falcons running backs converted long runs to extend drives, the first when DeWitt ran for 22 yards on a third down, then Asher Clark ran for 21 yards on fourth down. Clark scored from 3-yards out on the next play to close the gap to 27-20.
Moore came right back, leading Boise State down the field on a 10-play, 69-yard drive. The Broncos scored when Moore, flushed out of the pocket, tossed a 2-yard pass to Martin in the middle of the end zone.
But Air Force refused to quit, and scored minutes later when Tim Jefferson fired a 51-yard pass to Zack Kauth that gave the Falcons a first-and-goal at the 3. Jefferson, who passed for 144 yards and rushed for 16, scored two plays later on a keeper. Broncos defensive end Tyrone Crawford blocked the extra point, making the score 34-26 with 3:30 remaining.
The Falcons tried an onside kick, but the ball was recovered by Broncos receiver Tyler Shoemaker. Moore then moved the Broncos into scoring position and Dan Goodale booted a 25-yard field goal to put the game away.
"I'm really proud of how hard the kids competed." said Petersen, whose team hasn't been tested too often in the fourth quarter this season. "We talked a lot about it during the week, about not panicking and getting into a fourth quarter fight. But I think you have to be really pleased with how we responded."