Freshman quarterback Kellen Moore, defense shine in Boise State's opener

ccripe@idahostatesman.comAugust 31, 2008 

If you asked the 32,318 fans - the largest crowd in Bronco Stadium history - for a one-word description of redshirt freshman quarterback Kellen Moore's debut on Saturday night, you'd likely get this:

Impressive.

Ask coach Chris Petersen and you'd get a very different word - but one that perhaps will get the fans' blood pumping even more:

Expected.

Moore, the first freshman quarterback in school history to start a season opener, carved up the Idaho State defense to lead the Broncos to a 49-7 victory. He was 14-of-19 for 274 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yard touchdown strike to sophomore Titus Young.

"He really played like we thought he would," Petersen said. "He went out and had a good start. When you know what to do out there, it makes it a lot easier."

Playing in front of a crowd six times larger than anything he had seen before, against far better competition than he saw at little Prosser High in Washington, Moore never looked out of his element.

In fact, he made most of his plays look stunningly easy - moving deftly, if not quickly, to buy time, finding open receivers and producing the big play when it was available.

"Just cool, calm, collected Kellen," Young said.

Moore operated largely out of a no-huddle offense that the Broncos have worked on since spring ball and will mix in throughout the season. He also ran a no-huddle offense in high school - when he set a slew of Washington passing records.

After a couple early incompletions, he completed nine straight passes and led five consecutive touchdown drives (with one scoreless drive by backup Bush Hamdan wedged in).

"I like the no-huddle," Moore said. "You just sort of keep going, forget about the last play if you screwed up and just get the ball to all the wideouts."

The Broncos had an odd collection of offensive stars aside from Moore - some expected, some not.

Young had seven catches for 142 yards, three carries for 34 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior tailback Ian Johnson rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown and blocked a punt.

Freshman slot receiver Tyler Shoemaker, a former walk-on from Mountain View High, had two touchdown catches covering 73 yards.

Wide receiver/option quarterback Tanyon Bissell rushed for 46 yards and had 28 receiving yards.

Junior fullback/tight end Richie Brockel scored the first two rushing touchdowns of his career.

It was the first time in school history that three different Broncos scored two touchdowns in the same game.

The defense made some plays, too - most notably a fourth-down fumble recovery in the first quarter and a goal-line stop in the third quarter.

The Broncos were physical - delivering some nasty hits - while holding the Bengals to 207 yards. Sophomore quarterback Russel Hill of Timberline High managed just 74 passing yards and star wideout Eddie Thompson's 10 catches netted just 56 yards.

"Ol' No. 6 (Thompson) is an explosive player," Petersen said. "You didn't see that tonight because I thought our secondary did a nice job on those guys."

Sophomore middle linebacker Derrell Acrey posted a game-high 14 tackles and freshman outside linebacker Aaron Tevis added eight tackles, two sacks, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery.

Sophomore safety Jeron Johnson contributed the hit of the game - hammering Hill on a scramble.

"We had to come out and set a tone for the season," Jeron Johnson said.

The Broncos blew open the game with four touchdowns during an 8-minute, 26-second span of the first half. They needed just 10 total plays for the last three of those scoring drives as the Bengals struggled to keep up with the no-huddle pace.

"Once they started getting into a rhythm, it was hard for us to stop them," Idaho State safety Keith Goins said.

The highlight was the bomb to Young - a play that showed Moore's pocket poise, arm strength and budding partnership with Young.

Before the play, Young gave Moore a final instruction.

"I told him to just throw it as far as he can," Young said.

Moore said the play was "a potential launcher" - and the defense gave him just the look he wanted.

His thought: "Just lay it out for T.Y. and let him go get it."

Moore faked a hand-off, dropped back, stepped up into the pocket and launched - throwing the ball about 45 yards in the air and watching it drop into Young's fingertips at the Bengals' 40.

Young cruised into the end zone for the 80-yard touchdown. Only 12 pass plays in school history have covered more field.

"Any time you have a one-play drive, that gets you going," Moore said.

And any time a freshman quarterback shines in his debut, expectations take off.

Moore's next test will be much stiffer, Sept. 13 against the Bowling Green team that shocked No. 25 Pittsburgh on Saturday.

"I think he can do way better," Young said. "This is the first game."

And quite a start.

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