Broncos Open Mountain West Play with 63-13 Win
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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - After just one game in the conference, No. 5 Boise State is already the biggest bully in the Mountain West.
The Broncos, an expansion target for the Big East, routed Colorado State 63-13 in their Mountain West debut Saturday behind huge games from quarterback Kellen Moore, tailback Doug Martin and wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker.
Moore threw for 338 yards and four touchdowns on 26-of-30 passing, Martin ran 20 times for 200 yards and three scores and Shoemaker caught nine passes for 180 yards and two TDs and added a 36-yard run on a fake punt that led to another score for the Broncos (6-0, 1-0).
The trio of playmakers did all of that damage in just 2 1/2 quarters before their backups finished off the Rams (3-3, 1-1).
``It just felt like we were executing like it we do practice,'' said Moore, who engineered six scoring drives of under two minutes in improving to 44-2 as a starter, one win shy of Colt McCoy's NCAA record.
``Tonight we were just really clicking,'' Shoemaker said. ``I think it sets the standard for us in the Mountain West. We talked about that a lot in practice this week: as a new conference member, let them know we're here to compete.''
Even before kickoff of their inaugural league game, however, there were rumblings the Broncos, who left the Western Athletic Conference after a decade of dominance, would be bolting again - this time to the reconfigured Big East. That conference could issue them a football-only invitation as soon as next week.
Boise State president Robert Kustra told The Associated Press before kickoff that the school's best option might be staying in the Mountain West, which is joining forces with Conference USA to secure a solid future in the rapidly changing college football landscape. But Kustra stressed that his top priority is to get the Broncos as close as possible to an automatic qualifying status in the BCS, so he's keeping all his options open.
``Not even the slightest'' distraction, coach Chris Petersen said. ``Not even kind of. The guys that are going to make the decision are going to make a great decision for Boise State. We have 100 percent confidence in that. And that's why it doesn't distract us in the slightest. We're just playing this season.''
``We don't talk about it,'' Moore said of the Big East rumors. ``We don't care about it.''
Because, he said, the Broncos have their sights set squarely on mastering the Mountain West.
``We can only hope for bigger and better things,'' Shoemaker said, ``but right now we're in our conference and we're going to do our best.''
The Broncos raced out to a 35-0 lead in the first 20 minutes before the Rams gathered themselves and scored touchdowns on two trick plays.
``We knew they were going to score points and make plays. That is one of the best offenses in the country, if not the best,'' Rams quarterback Pete Thomas said. ``We didn't make enough plays when we got the ball back to balance out their fast start.''
The Broncos' 742 total yards were a school record, and they let off the pedal long before the fourth quarter.
``It didn't really feel like a record was set, it's just those big plays start to add up,'' Petersen said. ``I think the biggest thing we're probably most pleased with is how we came in at halftime and how the guys came back and answered both offensively, special teams-wise and on defense.
``Colorado State did a great job of taking the momentum from us and it irritated the guys and they came out and answered.''
After giving up touchdown runs of 26 and 65 yards to Martin, a 36-yard TD run by D.J. Harper and Moore's TD tosses of 52 yards to Shoemaker and 9 yards to Kirby Moore, the Rams got going.
Tight end Crockett Gilmore pulled in a lateral and threw a 27-yard touchdown strike to a wide open fullback Joe Brown. Momo Thomas forced a fumble, leading to another trick touchdown when wide receiver Charles Lovett took the hand-off, pulled up and hit Matt Yemm in stride for the score.
``We gave up a couple of scores at the end of the first half and we don't like to let teams feel like they're really in it,'' said Shoemaker, who gained 36 yards on a fake punt on the Broncos' opening drive of the third quarter.
``Stalling out on that first drive, we knew we needed something,'' Shoemaker said, ``and that was that play to get us back on track.''
And sent the Rams reeling.
``We took momentum into halftime,'' Rams safety Ivory Herd said. ``We went out there and got off the field. And then, they run the fake punt. It hurt.''
Three plays, later, Martin took it in from 14 yards out.
The Broncos quickly followed up with Shoemaker's 62-yard touchdown catch. On the Rams' next snap, Shane McClellin picked off Thomas' pass at the CSU 17, and Moore hit tight end Gabe Linehan with a 3-yard TD toss to end his night.
Mitch Burroughs' 64-yard punt return set up Harper's second touchdown, from a yard out, to cap the scoring - the biggest output against the Rams since their 71-14 loss to Nebraska in 1991.
``The beginning of the third quarter was critical,'' Moore said. ``We weren't able to get it done at the end of the second quarter and we made up for it.''
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
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