Boise State Shocks #14 Oregon 19-8

The prolific Boise State offense is well known. Last night before a nationwide television audience, it was the Bronco defense that grabbed attention, shutting down the high-powered #14 Oregon offense for most of the night in a 19-8 win in Bronco Stadium.

After all of the summer hype, the first college football game is in the books for Boise State .  Although Bronco players were amazingly silent during the offseason about the Oregon game, it is evident that they were certainly ready to play.

Led by a tenacious defense, Boise State stunned #14 Oregon before a Bronco Stadium record crowd of 34,127 last night in the season opener for both teams.  It was Boise State 's 50th consecutive regular season home victory, becoming just the eighth team in college football history to accomplish that feat.  Only Princeton (75 in a row from 1887-1900), Miami (58 consecutive from 1985-1994), Alabama (also 58 from 1963-1982), Carlisle (52 from 1901-1915), Pennsylvania (52 in a row from 1889-1896) and Michigan (1901-1907) and Yale (1886-1895) with 50 in a row are in the company of the Broncos.

Oregon finished 2008 second in the nation with over 280 yards per game, behind only Navy and just ahead of Nevada of the Western Athletic Conference.  The Ducks destroyed Top 10 Oklahoma State of the Big 12 Conference in the Holiday Bowl with their potent running game. 

Most of the ingredients from that powerful attack were back this year but the Bronco defensive line was ready for them.  Ryan Winterswyk, Chase Baker, Billy Winn and company were stout and stingy at the line, disrupting the Ducks all night.  Winn had four tackles, a tackle for loss and a safety that put Boise State up 10-0 in the second quarter.  Winterswyk had three tackles, .5 for loss, .5 sacks and a fumble recovery.  Baker had three stops, 1.5 for loss and .5 sacks. 

Those may not seem like big numbers, but they speak volumes.  Because of those stops, Oregon had eight yards of total offense in the first quarter and six in the second and went without a first down the entire first half. 

Meanwhile, the Bronco offense was controlling the game, marching into Duck territory several times but coming up empty.  They drove to the Oregon one-yard line but after two losses and a missed field goal, were not rewarded for their efforts.  Boise State put together another drive on their next possession but again a field goal attempt went wide.  Finally with 5:15 left in the half, sophomore quarterback Moore hit a diving Austin Pettis in the corner of the end zone from 10 yards out and the Broncos were on the board.  Boise State lined up in their spread formation and Michael Choate ran in from three yards out past the surprised Ducks for an 8-0 lead.

Following a change of possessions, Bronco punter Kyle Brotzman nailed a 57-yarder that darted out of bounds on the Oregon 4.  On the next play, Winn shot through with a quick burst of speed and tackled Duck star running back LeGarrette Blount for the safety.  The Broncos then capitalized after the Oregon kick with a drive that culminated in a 45-yard field goal from Brotzman and Chris Petersen's team went into the locker room with a 13-0 lead.  A glance at the first half statistics told the story:  Oregon 5:50 time of possession, Boise State 24:10. 

"It is frustrating when you don't get a first down," Oregon head coach Chip Kelly said.  It's frustrating.  A lot of it they're a good football team."

D.J. Harper (The Texas Tornado) was the most dangerous weapon of the night for the Bronco offense.  Harper did not get his first carry until 11 minutes left in the first half, but increasingly became a factor, gaining 88 yards on 19 carries (4.6 average).  Harper ignited the Broncos on the opening drive of the second half with a blazing 33-yard run down the east sideline to the Duck 15 and the Broncos scored an important insurance touchdown on Harper's one-yard carry to make it 19-0.

Oregon began to fare better with 7:35 in the third quarter following a Bronco punt.    Duck quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who was 2-8 for nine yards in the opening half, hit tight end Ed Dickson for 15 to earn the team their first first down on the contest and later found Jamere Holland, Jeff Maehl for 14 yards and another first down and then scampered in from five yards out to close the margin to 19-6.  Duck star running back LeGarrette Blount dashed in on a two-point attempt to make it 19-8.

But that was pretty much it.  Boise State was content to run out the clock, largely abandoning the throwing of Moore and focusing on the ground game instead.  This strategy resulted in breaking the 29-year old school record for running plays.  The Bronco performance in the 1980 Division I-AA National Championship win over Eastern Kentucky is legendary, but it will now have to rank second in the books as Boise State ran it 57 times last night.  Oregon defenders tugged at the football on every carry and managed to recover three Bronco fumbles, two in the fourth quarter, which gave them opportunities to catch Boise State .

But the Bronco defense, aided by a loud crowd that topped 120 decibels, thwarted every challenge and kept Oregon scoreless the remainder of the game.

Moore completed 19 of 29 passes for 197 yards and a short touchdown, guiding the Broncos with poise and precision.  Moore was not rattled by the Oregon pass rush, which was largely contained by the Boise State offensive line.  While Moore was unable to complete deep passes, he did damage with short strikes to tight ends Tommy Gallarda and Kyle Efaw and to wide receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young.

Bronco running back Jeremy Avery finished with 27 carries for 74 yards after a slow start and Pettis had six receptions for 68 yards. 

Boise State finished the game with 361 yards of total offense to 152 for Oregon , compiling 22 first downs to six for the Ducks.  The Bronco defense held Blount, who had 1,000 yards rushing, 17 touchdowns and a 7.6 yards-per-carry average last season, to a negative five yards on eight carries.

Although Oregon 's offense was much more effective in the second half, Boise State still amassed 42:32 on offense to 17:28 for the Ducks.  Usually this statistic is meaningless, but in this case it attests to the great play of the Bronco defense.
"We didn't produce on the offensive side of the ball," Kelly remarked. 

Promising freshman LaMichael James led Oregon on the ground with two carries for 22 yards while Maehl led the Duck receivers with five catches for 45 yards.  Safety T.J. Ward led the Oregon defense with 11 tackles while linebacker Casey Matthews had 10 stops, Walter Thurmond III, Eddie Pleasant and Javes Lewis had nine each.  Kenny Rowe also played an excellent game for the Ducks, getting six tackles, two of them for loss, and two sacks.  

Boise State now must face Miami of Ohio, who will be entering Bronco Stadium to prove themselves next Saturday.  Oregon will return home for an important slate that includes Purdue, #19 Utah and #12 California .

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