With Zabransky's efficient passing and Johnson's nose for the
end zone, the No. 14 Broncos dominated Fresno State 45-21 on a
national stage Wednesday night.
Zabransky managed the Broncos' potent offense, matching a season
high with three touchdowns passes, and Johnson increased his TD
total to 20 -- tops in the country.
With representatives from the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange bowls in
attendance, the Broncos (9-0, 5-0 WAC) were overpowering for three
quarters, then Johnson finished off the Bulldogs (1-7, 1-3) with an
impressive final drive.
"We know these are statement games," Johnson said. "We don't
prepare any different, but we have those little things in the back
of our minds that say 'hey, we've got to make a statement. This is
a big time thing."
The Broncos were ranked 14th in this week's BCS standings, and
need to finish in the top 12 of the final poll to become the second
team from a non-BCS conference to land a berth in one of the
big-money bowl games.
"We know what we need to focus on and that's taking it one game
at a time," Zabransky said. "If we do that we know the BCS thing
Overshadowed much of the season by Johnson -- the national leader
in touchdowns -- Zabransky directed the Broncos to scores on three
consecutive possessions in the first half. He also led scoring
drives the first two times Boise State had the ball in the second
Take away a kneel-down on the last play of the first half, and
Boise State reached the end zone on five straight possessions,
outscoring Fresno State 35-0 during the stretch. Zabransky
completed 19 of 25 passes for 180 yards and added another 57 yards
"We've got to continually stay on him about running the
football," coach Chris Petersen said. "He's such a fast runner,
that I think he thinks he's going to get more credit for throwing
the ball instead of running it. But it's very tough on defenses
when he takes off and runs."
It also opens up more opportunities for Johnson. Contained to
mostly 5- and 6-yard gains, Johnson busted a 32-yard run down to
the Fresno State 2 midway through the fourth quarter, carrying
defenders the final 10 yards. He capped the drive with a 2-yard
plunge, his 20th touchdown of the season.
Johnson also scored from 3 yards in the second quarter and had
"We knew eventually they would break and we would break a long
one," Johnson said. "It took until the fourth quarter but we got
Fresno State lost its seventh straight since opening the season
with a 28-19 win over Nevada. It's the first time the Bulldogs have
lost seven straight in one season since 1929.
Coach Pat Hill lauded Boise State afterward, and challenged his
team to close the season strong, even with a bowl berth now out of
the picture. The Bulldogs lost their last four games of 2005.
"We've got to start grinding and getting better," Hill said.
"We've got four games to go and I told them we're going to win
those next four games. That's what I expect."
Zabransky first TD pass was a perfect 28-yard strike on the run
to Drisan James on the last play of the first quarter. He added an
8-yard pass to Vinny Perretta and a 4-yard TD to Jerard Rabb, who
left cornerback Marcus McCauley standing at the line of scrimmage.
"Momentum shifts are huge," Zabransky said. "When you can
carry the momentum throughout a football game, tendency is your
going to win. ... Our team played extremely well."
Fresno State's offense never got on track with sophomore
quarterback Sean Newton making his second career start. The
Bulldogs were outgained 138-12 in the first quarter and 248-62 in
the first half.
The Bulldogs pulled to 38-21 with 14:02 left when Damon Jenkins
intercepted Zabranksky's pass and returned it 56 yards for a score.
It was the first interception of the season for Fresno State, the
last team in Division I-A without one.
Chastin West returned a kickoff 93 yards in the first quarter to
give Fresno State a 7-3 lead.