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Boise State's offense catches fire in rout of Wyoming

The SportsXchange

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- No. 21 Boise State's offense got hot Saturday at frigid War Memorial Stadium.

The Broncos, who have not clicked offensively this season, thumped the Wyoming Cowboys 45-14. They converted 11 of 12 third downs and didn't punt while the first-teamers were in the game.

The Broncos rushed for 214 yards and five touchdowns and threw for 223 yards.

"All year, we've had a good plan," said junior quarterback Joe Southwick, who was 20 of 28 passing for 198 yards with an interception. "Just sometimes we were not getting it done. But we did a good job -- we were clicking today."

The Broncos (7-1 overall, 4-0 Mountain West) ran away from the Cowboys (1-7, 0-4) with three third-quarter touchdowns, highlighted by sophomore nickelback Corey Bell's 19-yard fumble return.

Defensive linemen Beau Martin and Darren Koontz sacked Wyoming sophomore quarterback Brett Smith after Bell disrupted the play with a blitz. Bell fell to his stomach during his rush, got up, scooped the football and cruised into the end zone.

"I'm just really glad and grateful for how much time our coaches put into emphasizing that we need to finish every play," Bell said. "Everybody on that play was finishing that play. Fortunately I got to score, but it was an 11-man play."

The Cowboys (1-7, 0-4) are now ineligible for a bowl after going to the postseason two of the past three years. They had lost their previous three home games by a combined total of six points.

Smith was terrific early, but once the Broncos adjusted to the Cowboys' no-huddle, no-back system he didn't do much. Smith finished 24 of 35 passing for 216 yards and rushed for touchdowns in the second and fourth quarters.

The Cowboys moved 151 yards on their first two possessions of the game. They covered one yard on the next five -- four punts and the fumble.

"It was a tough one today in that we couldn't get the defense off the field," said Wyoming interim coach Pete Kaligis, who filled in for suspended coach Dave Christensen. "Boise was phenomenal on third-down conversions. We just couldn't get the punt team on the field."

Boise State led 17-7 at halftime, but Wyoming became the first Broncos opponent in six games to score in the first half and intercepted a pass late in the half to keep the game competitive.

The Cowboys' offense was impressive on its opening two drives.

On the first, Smith completed his first six passes. The drive stalled at the Boise State 12-yard line when the ball slipped out of Smith's hand on a pass attempt. The Cowboys tried a 29-yard field goal but Boise State sophomore defensive end Demarcus Lawrence blew through a hole up the middle, jumped and blocked the kick.

On the second, the Cowboys held the ball for 15 plays. Smith engineered a 75-yard touchdown drive that culminated with his own 4-yard run. Smith dropped to pass, scrambled left, juked freshman defensive end Sam Ukwuachu in the flat and scored to tie the game at 7.

Boise State's offense was moving, too.

The Broncos went 78 yards in 11 plays on their first drive. Senior tailback D.J. Harper -- who rushed for 105 yards -- gained 19 yards on a toss sweep and busted straight up the middle for a touchdown on second-and-goal at the 8-yard line.

The Broncos went 63 yards on their second drive, which included a 24-yard catch by sophomore wide receiver Matt Miller (seven catches, 78 yards). The Broncos stalled at the 12 and senior kicker Michael Frisina booted a 29-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead.

The Broncos' defense came alive after that. They forced a three-and-out before senior Chris Potter delivered a 36-yard punt return. Three running plays later, Harper slipped into the end zone on a 9-yard scamper. That made it 17-7 at the break.

NOTES: Boise State sophomore starting safety Lee Hightower and true freshman tight end Hayden Plinke did not make the trip to Wyoming because of unspecified team rules violations. Redshirt freshman Darian Thompson replaced Hightower in the lineup ... Boise State true freshman tailback Jack Fields also didn't travel because of an injury ... Miller made the 100th catch of his career in just his 21st game ... Boise State sophomore cornerback Bryan Douglas left the game with what looked like a serious leg injury ... Wyoming coach Dave Christensen was suspended for the game by the school for his outburst directed at Air Force coach Troy Calhoun earlier this month ... Smith has 13 career rushing touchdowns ... Wyoming safety Chad Reese's interception at the Cowboys' 1-yard line in the first half was the first of his career.
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