Broncos cash in on takeaway opportunities
• Photo gallery: UH football vs. Boise State
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
After going consecutive games without getting any turnovers, Boise State's defense took it out on Hawai 'i last night.
The Broncos were recipients of six turnovers — three interceptions and three fumble recoveries — in their 54-9 win in front of 33,961 at Aloha Stadium.
"It was just capitalizing on opportunities," BSU safety Jeron Johnson said. "We've been practicing all week on stripping the ball out. It was creating turnovers and not having them handed to us."
Johnson, who entered the game with two interceptions, had a hand in three of the turnovers with a fumble recovery and two interceptions, both off UH backup quarterback Shane Austin.
The offense appreciated the gifts that kept on giving.
"It was huge," BSU quarterback Kellen Moore said of his team's defense. "It's the second year in a row they've played well."
Moore's offense was able to redeem all six giveaways into scores totaling 30 points.
"When our defense gets six turnovers , we'll be be hard to beat," BSU coach Chris Petersen said. "They were flying around. Very physical tonight. Really thought they stepped up their game."
Only a safety on a bad snap from center with 5 minutes, 52 seconds left in the third quarter spoiled the shutout. Of course, that, wasn't on the defense. Not until some 50 minutes into the game did the Warriors score on the Broncos' defense, when Austin hit Jon Medeiros on a 10-yard TD pass.
"We definitely wanted the shutout, but we got the 'W,' so that's all that matters," Johnson said.
The Broncos started baking the turnovers from the start. On UH's first series after BSU punted, Daron Mackey forced UH running back Leon Wright-Jackson to cough up the ball that Johnson recovered at the UH 13. To the UH defense's credit, the Broncos did not get into the end zone and settled for the first of Kyle Brotzman's four field goals in taking a 3-0 lead.
With Boise State leading 10-0 early in the second quarter, Broncos safety Winston Venable forced a fumble by UH slotback Greg Salas that Brandyn Thompson recovered at the UH 14, setting up 14-yard TD pass by Moore to Austin Pettis that made it 17-0. That made it 10 points off turnovers.
Then just when it seemed Hawai 'i's offense would threaten to score, reaching BSU's 14, Johnson intercepted an Austin pass intended for Medeiros in the end zone that went for a touchback.
The Broncos then moved 80 yards in five plays on Moore's third TD pass to make it 24-0.
Down 31-0 later in the second quarter, linebacker Hunter White intercepted an Austin pass, returning it 14 yards to the UH 16. Brotzman's field goal made it 34-0 at the half. Twenty of those points were off turnovers.
The assault continued in the second half, when lineman Byron Hout recovered a fumble by UH running back Alex Green, who took a hit from linebacker J.C. Percy. The Broncos scored on the next play on a 48-yard pass from Moore to Titus Young that made it 44-0.
The gift of giving continued for the Warriors to end of the third quarter when Johnson made his second interception of the game. That led to Brotzman's fourth field goal to make it 47-2. Thirty of those points came off turnovers.
"(BSU assistant Justin) Wilcox came up with a good game plan for our defense," Johnson said. "It worked perfect for me. I complained a little bit because I thought I wouldn't see much action all week. I got a lot of action, (though) not with making tackles that I want, but I want the ball in my hands more than anything."
Johnson said his job was to line up deep and read the quarterback.
"It worked out for us," he said.