BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Known for its high-scoring offense, Boise
State showed it can play some defense, too.
The Broncos (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) held Fresno State to 17 yards rushing in a
33-16 victory Saturday night, extending the nation's longest
winning streak to 18 games and improving to 7-0 for the first time
in school history.
Boise State came in leading the country in scoring at 46 points
per game, but its defense stole the spotlight.
"I think defensively they took it to us really good tonight,"
Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "They outplayed us, especially
on the defensive side of the ball.
Fresno State ran the ball just 17 times, after averaging 204
yards per game rushing coming into the contest.
"Any defense with nine guys in the box is going to be difficult
to run against," said Wendell Mathis, who led the Bulldogs with
four carries for 29 yards.
On the other side, Boise State pounded the running game on a
cold, wet night, where a mixture of heavy rain and hail alternated
at times. Lee Marks rushed for a career-high 112 yards and Boise
State ran the ball 55 times in the game.
"We wanted to come in and run the ball hard," Marks said. "It
was fun out there tonight."
Tyler Jones kicked four field goals to help Boise State win its
22nd straight Western Athletic Conference game. Boise State (7-0,
4-0 WAC) is 25-2 since joining the conference in 2001.
The Broncos are 4-0 against the Bulldogs since 2001, outscoring
Fresno State 131-54 in the last three games.
"For us to catch up with Boise State, we've got to improve and
play at the pace they do," Hill said.
After starting the season 3-0, with victories at Washington and
Kansas State, Fresno State (3-3, 0-3) has lost three straight
The Broncos defense had been torched of late, giving up 30.8
points per game since holding Idaho to seven points in the season
opener. Tulsa scored 42 on the Broncos last week.
But Fresno State could never generate any offense with the run,
and quarterback Paul Pinegar struggled.
"Our defense was pretty close to dominant," Boise State coach
Dan Hawkins said. "I was impressive with their focus and attention
Still, it wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Broncos
finally put away Fresno State. The Bulldogs cut the lead to 26-16
on Pinegar's 25-yard TD pass to Jermaine Jamison with 9:26 left.
On Fresno State's next possession, Pinegar's pass was
intercepted by Deshan Cabaong deep in Fresno State territory. Five
plays later, Jared Zabransky found Andy Weldon on a 5-yard TD pass
to put the Broncos up 33-16.
Zabransky threw for 227 yards and ran for a touchdown.
After settling mostly for field goals in the first half, the
Broncos found the end zone on the first drive of the second half.
Hawkins went to the back of the playbook, using a double pass
from Zabransky to running back Jeff Carpenter, back to Zabransky,
who found tight end Sherm Blaser for 42 yards. Six plays later,
Zabransky scored from a yard out to put the Broncos up 23-3.
Mathis scored from 15 yards out midway through the third quarter
to make it 23-10. It was the longest running play for Fresno State
in the game.
"It was more a lack of execution on the backfields part and
understanding where the play was supposed to hit," Mathis said of
the Bulldogs' struggles.
Boise State followed the touchdown with a 19-play drive, running
the ball 12 times, and taking nearly 9 minutes off the clock. Jones
finished the march with a 45-yard field goal, putting Boise State
The Broncos took their opening possession of the game 89 yards
for a touchdown, keyed by Zabransky's 49-yard pass to T.J. Acree.
Seldom-used running back Calvin McCarty scored on a 7-yard run,
marking the first time this season Boise State scored on its
The Broncos scored on four of their five first-half possessions,
but two key fumbles ended touchdown chances and forced the Broncos
to settle for field goals.
Jones added kicks of 21, 32 and 30 yards in the first half for
Andy Avalos intercepted Pinegar late in the first half, leading
to Jones' last kick.
The Bulldogs only first-half score came off a fumbled punt
return. Fresno State managed just 4 yards after the turnover and
settled for Brett Visintainer's 38-yard field goal.
"I was really impressed with Boise State," Hill said. "They
made plays all over the field and executed very well."