Bulldogs Suffer First WAC Loss of '07
Oct. 27, 2007
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Boise State brought a brand of smashmouth football with it to Bulldog Stadium Friday night.
Jeremy Avery led Boise State's dominant ground attack with a career-high 124 yards and three touchdowns, and the Broncos avenged their only conference loss in the last half-decade with a 34-21 victory over Fresno State on Friday night.
D.J. Harper had a career-best 153 yards and a score for the five-time Western Athletic Conference champion Broncos (7-1, 4-0), whose sole loss in their last 44 WAC games was a 27-7 defeat in Fresno in 2005.
"It's a huge hurdle in the WAC championship, especially at their place with the bitter taste after getting dominated two years ago," safety Marty Tadman said.
The Fresno crowd has held a particular distaste for the Broncos ever since Boise State ended the Bulldogs' unbeaten season here in 2001. Fans packed the stadium in thousands of identical black T-shirts.
The Broncos' freshman running back tandem patiently wore down the equally young Bulldogs.
"We both ran hard, that's all it was," Avery said. "There's enough balls to go around. Everybody's going to get a turn with the ball. I feel great coming into their stadium, where they've got a great crowd, and pulling it out."
Clifton Smith returned a punt 65 yards for a score for Fresno State (5-3, 4-1), which hoped to signal its return to the national stage with another win over last season's BCS darlings. Instead, the Bulldogs saw just how far they must go to rejoin Boise State and Hawaii atop the conference.
"If you're going to win this league, you've got to go through Boise State," Bulldogs coach Pat Hill said. "I think we're closing the gap, but we haven't closed it yet."
After the clubs scored two touchdowns apiece in a wild first quarter, Boise State's defense buckled down. The Broncos shut out Fresno State for nearly 47 minutes between the Bulldogs' opening drive and Marlon Moore's acrobatic TD catch with 8:13 to play.
Just six days after traveling to Louisiana Tech for a tough victory, the Broncos didn't seem exhausted by their road swing.
Both teams played without their starting tailbacks. Johnson, the Broncos' Fiesta Bowl star, missed his second straight game, while Fresno State's Lonyae Miller has a knee injury.
Tom Brandstater passed for 263 yards for the Bulldogs, while Boise State's Taylor Tharp had 158 yards passing in a conservative game plan.
"They're a great running team, always have been," Hill said. "That was a short football game.