HONOLULU The Boise State football team battered another set of quarterbacks Saturday afternoon at Aloha Stadium.
And stuffed another offense.
The Broncos recorded six sacks, grabbed five turnovers four by quarterbacks didnt allow any offensive points in the first half (again) and scored a defensive touchdown (again) on their way to a 49-14 romp at Hawaii.
When youre going to play as good of pass defense as weve played, Boise State coach Chris Petersen said, its got to be a combination the guy cannot hold it long and our defensive line usually doesnt let them and then weve got some pretty good corners and guys in the secondary. Theyve just done a great job all year long.
Boise State (8-2 overall, 5-1 Mountain West) entered the game ranked sixth in the nation in pass defense and pass-efficiency defense. The Broncos also were tied for fifth in takeaways, with 24.
The young defensive ends, who were considered one of the teams biggest question marks in August, have turned into one of the teams key weapons.
Redshirt freshman Sam Ukwuachu and sophomore Tyler Horn established new career highs with two sacks each against Hawaii, and Horn forced a fumble. Sophomore Demarcus Lawrence added a sack and returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Those are two, four whatever pretty athletic guys and theyre hard to block on the edge, Petersen said of the end rotation.
Lawrence ranks among the nations leaders in sacks (8.5) and forced fumbles (three). Ukwuachu is near the top in fumbles recovered (three).
It all went back to spring ball, Ukwuachu said. We knew we had something to prove. We just tried to get better get bigger in spring ball and get better in summer, too. I think it shows now.
The ends dynamic performance Saturday was part of an emphatic bounce back for the Broncos, who lost 21-19 to San Diego State on Nov. 3 in Boise to short-circuit their Bowl Championship Series hopes.
The offense responded with five first-half TDs and the defense held Hawaii to a school-record-worst minus-14 yards rushing.
The Broncos are two wins away from at least sharing the Mountain West title. San Diego State leads the three-team race at 6-1; Fresno State was 5-1 going into Saturdays late game at Nevada.
Were proud of these guys weve been proud of them since Tuesday, Petersen said. They came out to practice. They worked hard. Shoot, we had a real physical practice Tuesday. Sometimes its hard this late in the season to go that hard in practice and certainly coming off a loss.
The coaches did a good job of framing where we are in the season and what it really means. And we just go forward. Theres still a lot of football to play. We cant worry about anything behind us. And they bought in and practiced hard.
The Broncos scored on five of eight first-half possessions. Junior quarterback Joe Southwick was sharp, completing all five passes on one drive and connecting with junior wide receiver Aaron Burks for a 46-yard touchdown pass.
Burks dragged a defender into the end zone for his first career TD a moral victory for an offense that has struggled to hit the home-run play.
I know there have been quite a few that have been on the 1-yard line or the 3-yard line, Southwick said, so to actually have it go in the end zone was good for me. He ran a great route, made it real easy for me.
Southwick, who had thrown two total touchdown passes in the previous four games, tossed three in the first half. The ball came out of his hand with a better trajectory than it had all year, Petersen said.
When we can get our pass game going a little bit more, with some explosives, it really helps us, Petersen said.
The Broncos set season highs for points (49) and margin of victory (35). Both broke marks set two weeks ago at Wyoming (45-14 win).
In fact, Boise State has scored at least 40 points in each of its past three road games. It still hasnt hit that total at Bronco Stadium, going into next weeks home finale against Colorado State.
Sometimes its almost easier playing on the road for us, said Southwick, whose group has endured heavy scrutiny this season.
The defensive performance never changes unless the opponent runs the triple option (New Mexico).
The Broncos havent allowed three offensive touchdowns to anyone but the Lobos this season, havent allowed an offense to score in the first half of seven of the past eight games and havent allowed a touchdown play of longer than 7 yards against the first-teamers. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown one TD pass all season.
Its an ultra-consistent defense thriving in the inconsistent world of college football. I wish I could tell you, Ukwuachu said of the defenses secret. A bunch of guys who love playing hard, that love getting after it.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat