#23 Broncos Win Big Over Wildcats 56-7
BOISE, Idaho (AP) -Yes, Boise State ran a trick play.
Coming off an undefeated season, the No. 24 Broncos ran their winning streak to 14 games - the longest in major college football - and even dipped into the bag of tricks that helped them upset Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl last season, beating Weber State 56-7 on Thursday in the season opener for both teams.
Ian Johnson ran for 129 yards and three touchdowns and Taylor Tharp was steady in his first start at quarterback, leading Boise State to touchdowns on its first seven possessions and a 49-0 lead at halftime.
But the first touchdown had everybody remembering that night in January.
Wide receiver Vinny Perretta, who threw for a score in the Fiesta Bowl, lined up at quarterback on third-and goal from the 7 and ran up the middle for a touchdown.
``I was surprised how well they executed on both sides of the ball,'' said second-year Boise State coach Chris Petersen. ``With as many new guys as there were getting into the mix, I was surprised how well they came out.''
Just about the only thing that didn't go right for the Broncos came at the end of their eighth drive, when they were finally stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with the second quarter winding down.
The overmatched Wildcats picked up just two first downs in the first half, fumbling the ball away on their next play on both occasions.
``We wanted to come out and look fresh and fast,'' said Weber State coach Ron McBride. ``But what we looked was tired and slow. I've never been so disappointed in my life.
Boise State has now won 52 of its last 54 games on its home blue turf.
Tharp, a senior, appeared poised and sturdy, throwing the ball away when necessary and hanging in the pocket to deliver a 53-yard touchdown pass to Titus Young just before getting hit. Tharp was slow getting up, and Petersen checked on him with a look of concern as Tharp walked off the field.
``I kind of just chucked it and got hit and got the wind knocked out of me,'' Tharp said. ``But it doesn't hurt as much when you look up and see your guy running into the endzone.''
Tharp, who took over for Jared Zabransky, directed five more touchdown drives before the half for the defending Western Athletic Conference champions.
``I felt good out there,'' he said. ``We're still explosive, and we have a lot of good players.''
Tharp led another touchdown drive to start the second half, making it 56-0 with 10:49 to go in the third quarter. He left the game after completing 14 of 19 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown.
``He's a little different from Z (Zabransky),'' Johnson said. ``Z is a little more animated, but he went out and took control of that huddle. He was leading us. He was telling us everything we needed to hear.''
Johnson, who proposed to former cheerleader Chrissy Popadics on the field immediately after scoring the 2-point conversion that clinched the Fiesta Bowl, sat out the entire second half.
He did enough damage over the first 30 minutes, his longest run coming late in the first quarter when he scurried around the left side and cut up field, easily accelerating away from defenders for a 54-yard touchdown run that gave the Broncos a 28-0 lead.
Weber State, out of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) Big Sky Conference, got on the board with 3:40 left in the third quarter when Jimmy Barnes hit Bryant Eteuati with a 21-yard touchdown pass to make it 56-7.
By then, any nervousness that Peterson had about the season opener had probably dissipated.
``I was thinking about that before the game, and going, 'Was I feeling like this last year?''' Peterson said. ``I wasn't feeling good going into tonight because of so much uncertainty. It's a very painful time before the game, and it doesn't get much better once the game starts.''
Boise State rushed for 386 yards and seven touchdowns, while limiting Weber State to 74 yards. The Broncos threw for another 199 while the Wildcats passed for 71. Boise State ended up with 30 first downs to Weber State's eight.
``This game we dominated,'' said Broncos safety Marty Tadman. ``That's all I can say about it. We dominated.''
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