Broncos ground Ducks
BOISE, Idaho — The biggest home game in Boise State history became a four-quarter bullying of its big-conference neighbor, after which tempers boiled over and Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount punched a Broncos player.
Kellen Moore threw for 197 yards and a touchdown, and the 14th-ranked Broncos shoved aside No. 16 Oregon 19-8 Thursday night, overcoming the biggest apparent obstacle between them and a possible second BCS bowl.
D.J. Harper scored on a 1-yard run early in the third quarter and Boise State held on for a shaky final 25 minutes of mistakes and turnovers to record its 50th straight regular-season home victory and ruin Chip Kelly's debut as Oregon head coach.
But the lasting image from this highly anticipated kickoff to the 2009 college football season may be Blount punching Boise State's Byron Hout after the final whistle and then needing to be restrained from fans by police on the field.
As the Broncos began celebrating on their famous blue turf, Hout yelled in Blount's face and tapped him on the shoulder pad. That drew an immediate scream from Boise State head coach Chris Petersen, but before Petersen could pull Hout away, Blount landed a right hand to the defensive end's jaw.
Then as Blount was being pulled off the field, he had to be restrained from fans heckling him on the way to the Oregon locker room.
"You know, just emotions getting the best of players, and you know, it was a hard fought game, really proud of our defense," Petersen said. "Typical first game, lot of sloppy football, but I thought our defense rose to the occasion and played great."
Blount set a Ducks record with 17 rushing touchdowns last season.
For 21/2; quarters, the biggest home game in Boise State history was a celebration of all things blue and orange before the nervous final stretch as a Ducks offense that was stuck in neutral most of the night finally gained some traction.
But Boise State's defense answered every Oregon charge and knocked off the Ducks for the second consecutive season after last year's contentious matchup in Eugene.
Nearly every available space inside Bronco Stadium was crammed with fans desperate to see this border-state battle, one that everyone expected to turn into a high-scoring shootout.
If not for two missed field goals, a botched field-goal snap and three turnovers, it very well might have been a high-scoring rout for the Broncos.
They outgained Oregon 361 to 152, rolling up 22 first downs to the Ducks' six. The struggles of Kelly's offense were stunning, considering Oregon scored a combined 162 points in its final three games of 2008 and brought quarterback Jeremiah Masoli back to run the show.
But Masoli's passing was off and the Ducks could not get bruising Blount started. Blount carried only eight times and finished with minus-5 yards rushing, part of a miserable night for the stark, white-clad Ducks on the Broncos' famous blue turf.
And Masoli's main passing target, Ed Dickson, might as well have not been on the field. He wasn't thrown to in the first half and finished with just two catches for 19 yards. His first grab, with 7:07 left in the third quarter, finally got the Ducks their first first down.
Masoli fnished 14 of 27 for 121 yards and an interception.
The Broncos had no problem marching. Moore hit 14 of 20 throws in the first half and finished 19 of 29. He was also given plenty of time in the pocket behind a young offensive line that for one night answered the biggest question about the Broncos in the offseason.
Moore connected with Austin Pettis for a 10-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter and the two-point conversion put Boise State up 8-0. They later went up 10-0 when Blount was pulled down in the end zone by Billy Winn for a safety.
The Broncos' line also pushed Oregon's defensive front and opened holes for Harper and Jeremy Avery. The pair combined for 162 yards rushing and Boise State finished with 164 yards rushing as a team.