Broncos Shut Down #1 Rushing Team in America

The Boise State defense had one of its best games of the year, shutting down the dangerous running game of Nevada in a 41-34 win over the Wolf Pack.

Boise State 's defense rose to the challenge this afternoon, putting up a stone wall in response to Nevada 's best running game in America , as the #9 Broncos downed Nevada 41-34 in Reno .  The win enabled Boise State to remain undefeated and to make a bid for playing in the national championship game as the team with the best record.   Coach Chris Petersen's team clinched its sixth Western Athletic Conference title in the last seven years. 

The talented Wolf Pack came into the game #1 in the country with a 325 yards per game average on the ground.  They rung up 224 against Texas Tech and 182 vs. Missouri but found the going much tougher against the Bronco defense.  Nevada had just 31 rushing yards in the first half. 

Nevada proved to be the toughest opponent so far this season for the Broncos.  The Wolf Pack nearly forced another overtime thriller (ala 69-67 last year), but a Collin Kaepernick pass was batted down in the end zone as time expired.  Oregon played a tough game early in the season against Boise State, but the Broncos ran out the clock for a 35-32 win.

Freshman Kellen Moore led the Bronco offense with the first 400-yard passing performance of his young career (414 yards and three touchdowns).  Moore completed 29 of 48 passes while Austin Pettis caught nine for 126 yards and two touchdowns and Vinny Perretta caught five for 126 yards. Pettis climbed to 7th all-time for single season touchdowns with nine, tying several players including teammate Jeremy Childs. Mike Holton (1974) is the school record holder with 13.

 Leading receiver Childs was held to three catches but was able to move to fourth place on the all-time career receptions list at Boise State with 142 catches, passing Jay Swillie (1999-2002) and Eric Andrade (1983-84/86-87) in the process.  Mike Wilson is directly in front of Childs with 159, while Don Hutt holds the school record of 189.  The Hutt mark is one of the longest-standing records at Boise State. 

Ian Johnson enjoyed one of his best games of the season that featured a strong burst through the middle of the Pack defense that resulted in a tackle-breaking 66-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.  The Johnson TD proved to be the game-winner for the Broncos.  

Kaepernick passed for 241 yards and a touchdown and ran for 70 yards for Nevada (6-5, 4-3 WAC), which got the ball back with 1:34 left in the game near midfield and moved to Boise's 26 on Kaepernick's 28-yard pass to Chris Wellington with 28 seconds remaining.  But a delay of game penalty pushed the Wolf Pack back, Kaepernick's next three passes fell incomplete and on fourth-and-13, cornerbacks Brandyn Thompson and Kyle Wilson knocked down his pass to Mark Mitchell and the win was preserved. 

The Bronco defense not only shut down the #1 running team in America but also was superb in passing defense.  Kaepernick entered the game completing 58 percent of his passes, but connected on only 19 of 50 attempts on Saturday.

``Give Boise credit, said Nevada head coach Chris Ault.  "They are deserving of their ranking. Boise has a great defense and I'm certainly not saying we should have run the ball up and down the field on them. But we had our opportunities. ... This one was a tough one to lose,'' he said.

Trailing by 21, the Wolf Pack intercepted Moore three times in the third quarter and returned two for touchdowns. Jerome Johnson went 28 yards with one and Josh Mauga went 46 yards with another to make it 31-24.

But Wilson returned a punt 39 yards to Nevada 's 31 and three plays later Austin Pettis broke open for a 15-yard touchdown pass from Moore to make it 38-24 with 10:11 remaining.  

On the next series, Mike Williams sacked Nevada backup Nick Graziano on third down for a 9-yard loss back to his own 4. Brett Jaekle's punt only made it as far as Nevada 's 37 and Kyle Brotzman kicked a 50-yard field goal to put Boise State ahead 41-24 with 7:20 remaining.

Kaepernick passed 53 yards to Wellington then hit Mitchell for a 9-yard touchdown on fourth down to make it 41-31 with 4:36 to play and Nevada linebacker Jared Siva-Purcell recovered the ensuing onside kick at the Wolf Pack 41.

Kaepernick scrambled 24 yards to Boise State 's 23 and got a pass interference penalty, but Kaepernick threw three incomplete passes from the 8 and Nevada had to settle for Jaekle's 25-yard field goal to cut the lead to 41-34 with 2:36 left.

Jaekle tried another onside kick but Pettis went high in the air to grab the ball at Nevada 's 40 and Brotzman missed a 48-yard field goal to set up Nevada 's final drive.

Boise State now readies for Senior Day and a clash with rival Fresno State, set for Friday afternoon at 4 in Bronco Stadium.  The game is already a sellout and represents the first time the Broncos have closed at home in seven years.  The WAC showdown will be televised nationally on ESPN2.


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