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October 25, 2009

No. 6 Boise State puts on defensive show

HONOLULU (AP) Jeron Johnson's eyes said it all.

The Boise State safety had the words "NON" and "STOP" on his eye black stickers. And that's exactly what Johnson and the Broncos defense were against Hawaii, forcing turnover after turnover in a 54-9 victory over Hawaii on Saturday night to remain unbeaten and in the BCS race.

"Just nonstop. That's the attitude you got to have all night," said Johnson, who intercepted two passes and also recovered a fumble. "Turnovers? You get one, you want to get another one. You get two, you want to get another. That's how it was all night. We just kept fighting, trying to get the ball."

No. 6 Boise State (7-0, 2-0 Western Athletic Conference) forced six turnovers, leading to 30 points, which were a bit unexpected since the Broncos who didn't have a takeaway in their two previous games.

"We've been practicing all week on stripping the ball out and just creating turnovers, not having them handed to us," Johnson said.

The Broncos created so many turnovers, Warriors coach Greg McMackin seemed to have lost count. McMackin kept saying his team committed nine turnovers during the post-game press conference.

"I've never played in a game with nine turnovers," he said. "Nine turnovers and they score 54? It should've been 120-0."

Boise State coach Chris Petersen realizes with such a steady-scoring offense, having a dominating defense would be the perfect complement as the Broncos try to sweep through their six remaining WAC games to finish 13-0 and maybe earn a BCS bid.

"If we play that way on defense, we'll be hard to stop," Petersen said.

All week, Petersen had preached how his players had to stay focused on the Warriors and not get distracted by their tropical surroundings or their BCS rankings. They had lost two previous trips to the islands, including to East Carolina in the 2007 Hawaii Bowl.

"This is a hard place to play," he said. "The guys did a great job of really focusing in and being mature about it."

Petersen has consistently said his goal is strictly winning, and that he's not concerned about margin of victory. But a lopsided win was welcomed by the Broncos, who weren't as impressive in their two previous games against UC Davis and Tulsa.

"We needed a big victory for ourselves," quarterback Kellen Moore said. "We certainly feel we didn't play up to our potential the last two weeks, and I think we can feel pretty good about our performance and get at it on both sides of the ball and we're excited about that."

Moore, who leads the nation in passing efficiency, threw for 223 yards and a career-best five touchdown passes, pushing his season total to 21 TDs.

"Road games are a test of focus and I think we are back where we want to be," Moore said.

Four of his scoring throws came in the first half, where the Broncos had built a 34-0 lead.

Titus Young had eight catches for 115 yards and three TDs, including a 48-yarder in the third quarter.

"When you prepare the way I felt I prepared this week, I feel that the game slows down a little bit, you have more opportunities and you make better plays because you know what's going on," Young said.

The season continued to get uglier for the injury plauged Warriors (2-5, 0-4), who have lost five straight for the first time since 1998. The 45-point loss was Hawaii's worst since losing by 46 to top-ranked Southern California to open the 2005 season.

"We've had our share of adversity this year, and we're going to fight through it," McMackin said. "And I'm not going to listen to any negative. Somebody wants to talk negative to me, I'm not going to listen. I'm only going to talk positive."

Bryant Moniz, who started the season as the third-string quarterback, made his third straight start for Hawaii and sustained a concussion near the end of the opening quarter. He was replaced by Shane Austin, who was ineffective and threw three interceptions and one late scoring pass.

"We were down to our fourth quarterback," McMackin said. "I thought he came in and did as good as he could."


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