Kellen Moore leads Boise State's 2nd-half surge at Wyoming

BOISE, Idaho -- Boise State had slogged through the first half against Wyoming and needed a spark.

Kellen Moore provided it, though not in the usual fashion.

Moore connected with Matt Miller on a 46-yard touchdown heave on the last play of the first half and No. 7 Boise State rolled from there to a 36-14 victory against the Cowboys on Saturday.

"That was big. Really, we stole some points in that situation. That was huge for us," said Moore, who threw three touchdown passes in the game and now has 137 career touchdown passes, second-best all time.

With the score tied 7-7 and 1 second left in the second quarter, Moore rolled left and let loose a pass to the goal line. The ball was deflected by Cowboys defender Tashaun Gipson and fell into the hands of Miller, sprawled flat on his back in the end zone and just beyond the goal line.

For Miller, it was literally being in the right place at the right time -- and keeping his eyes open.

"I was just trying not to get stepped on, really. The ball just kind of fell in my arms," he said. "I couldn't see it, but the guy tipped it and it fell in my arms, just a lucky play. It turned out pretty well for the Broncos."

Turns out it was exactly what the Broncos (10-1, 5-1 Mountain West Conference) needed to wrap up second place in the league.

Like the rest of the offense, Moore struggled early. He misfired badly on his first few throws and Wyoming linebacker Luke Anderson intercepted an underthrown ball in the flat and ran 29 yards untouched into the end zone, giving the Cowboys a 7-0 lead.

It was Moore's first interception returned for a touchdown since Nov. 9, 2009, against Louisiana Tech.

But Moore found his groove just before the half and completed two third down passes to extend a 17-play, game-tying drive that was capped by Doug Martin's 2-yard TD plunge. Moore stepped it up in the second half, leading the Broncos to 23 straight points to put the game away.

The lefty was 24 of 36 for 279 yards and the offense rolled up 479 total yards.

Moore's totals for the game give him 3,137 on the season, the third straight year he's eclipsed that landmark. Martin rushed for 153 yards on 26 carries, putting him over 1,000 yards for the second straight season.

The Boise State defense -- riddled with injuries in the secondary and maligned for its performances against TCU and San Diego State the last two weeks -- played well throughout, throttling a Wyoming offense that had been averaging 417 total yards per game.

The Broncos forced two turnovers, held Wyoming (7-4, 4-2) without a first down in the third quarter and didn't allow any points until late in the fourth quarter.

"I'm real pleased," coach Chris Petersen said of his defense. "I think those kids are getting better and working. It's really hard to play great defense. You have to be good against the run, you have to have a pass rush, you have to have corners, you have to have the whole package. If you don't, you see what happens and you get a little thin. It was nice to see those guys step back up."

For the Cowboys, who have never beaten Boise State, it was a difficult and disappointing day.

Wyoming came into the game having won four of the last five and were playing the Broncos for second place, a goal that seemed unlikely when they were picked near the bottom of the conference to start the season. And through much of the first half, the defense kept the game close by keeping the Bronco offense in check.

But the offense failed to get on track and was held to just 191 total yards. Freshman quarterback Brett Smith, under intense pressure all game that forced him to make short throws, was 17 of 25 for 78 yards. Sam Stratton led the Cowboys with 54 yards rushing.

The Cowboys, one of the nation's best at forcing turnovers, suffered a few costly ones of their own, including a fumble when Smith was flushed out of the pocket deep in Bronco territory in the second quarter. Boise State capitalized by marching down the field to tie the game 7-7 on Martin's first touchdown run.

"That was huge," said Wyoming coach Dave Christensen. "We were in field goal range, but it's a young guy trying to make a play. I can't fault the kid for that.

"We are still a young football team and I thought we competed hard, didn't quit and kept battling until the end."

Boise State wraps up its season at home next Saturday against New Mexico. Wyoming finishes next week by traveling to Colorado State.



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