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October 27, 2010

Broncos overcome miscues, top Louisiana Tech 49-20

BOISE, Idaho (AP) Even with another blowout in the books, Boise State coach Chris Petersen knows a flawed performance when he sees one.

There were plenty of positives to take away from No. 2 Boise State's 49-20 victory over Louisiana Tech on Tuesday night. The offense rolled up 468 total yards, Kellen Moore had his hand in three touchdowns, and the defense made big plays at critical moments.

But there were too many flaws, fumbles and uncharacteristic miscues for a perfectionist such as Petersen to ignore - not with the Broncos pursuing another undefeated season and trying to hold onto their spots in the AP poll and BCS standings.

The Western Athletic Conference powerhouse was caught off-guard on an onside kick, fumbled another, and the kicking game cost the team points and field position.

"That's why I'm anxious to come in tomorrow and see how many things we can do better," Petersen said after the Broncos won their 21st consecutive game, the longest active streak in major college football.

"Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the offense and say, `That's a good play.' We won't worry about those. The ones we can do something about are the ones we'll pay attention to."

The Broncos (7-0, 3-0 WAC) managed to overcome their miscues thanks to a high-scoring offense led by Moore and a defense that forced two fumbles, had four sacks and stopped Louisiana Tech on fourth down three times.

Some costly penalties by the Bulldogs (3-5, 2-2) also helped.

Louisiana Tech had a chance to grab the momentum early after a bold onside kick attempt in the first quarter following Lennon Creer's tying 1-yard touchdown run. The Bulldogs recovered the ball, but the play was nullified by an offside penalty. The call angered first-year coach Sonny Dykes, who was flagged 15 yards, forcing Louisiana Tech to kick from the 13.

The Broncos made them pay when Titus Young returned the kick to the Bulldogs 17. Four plays later, Moore zipped a pass to Austin Pettis to make it 14-7 with two minutes left in the first quarter.

Then late in the half, the Bulldogs were flagged for pass interference on consecutive plays to set up another Boise State touchdown. Tight end Kyle Efaw recovered a Doug Martin fumble in the end zone to make it 28-7.

There were also some special teams blunders that caused some headaches on the Boise State sideline.

With reliable kicker Kyle Brotzman nursing a sore leg, the Broncos turned to backup Jimmy Pavel, who missed a 30-yard field goal try on the opening drive. Then backup punter Trevor Harman misfired in the first half, kicking the ball only 14 yards to set the Bulldogs up at the Boise State 43. Moore's 53-yarder in the second half, the team's longest punt of the season, was one of the few bright spots in the Broncos' kicking game.

Boise State has little room for error when stellar performances over mediocre teams matter to voters in the polls and the BCS rankings. The Broncos are No. 3 in the BCS behind Auburn and Oregon and feeling pressure from surging teams such as Missouri and Michigan State.

"It was a good win, but it wasn't great in terms of our side of things and playing as clean as we wanted to," Petersen said.

Yet the Broncos proved Tuesday they are good enough to overcome those flaws. The game film should also provide enough feel-good moments to keep the Broncos in good spirits until they meet Hawaii Nov. 6.

Moore was 20 of 28 for 298 yards and two touchdowns, and he caught another TD on a trick play. Tyler Shoemaker had six catches and a career-best 124 yards. Doug Martin carried 21 times for 150 yards and scored twice.

Pettis snapped his three-game scoring drought with a 6-yard TD in the first quarter. He returned the favor later when he took a pitch on an end around and quickly tossed a 7-yard pass to Moore all alone in the right corner of the end zone.

Despite allowing 394 total yards, much more than its 210-yard average coming in, the Broncos defense stiffened in the red zone to squelch three Bulldog scoring drives and forced two fumbles in the second half that enabled the offense to put the game out of reach.

"All I know is we got the win," said senior safety Winston Venable. "We can't play perfect all the time ... those types of things are going to happen. There were definitely big plays by our defense and that's what we're supposed to do."


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