The Boise State football players spent their Saturday night the way college kids should.
Having carefree fun.
The Broncos used some funky offensive plays, improved defense and an inspired performance by junior defensive end Demarcus Lawrence to smash Southern Miss 60-7 in a late kickoff at Bronco Stadium - the Golden Eagles' 16th straight loss.
The Broncos improved to 3-2 overall (1-1 Mountain West) going into the first of two bye weeks. They'll come back to face a grueling four-week stretch - at Utah State on Oct. 12, home against Nevada on Oct. 19, at BYU on Oct. 25 and at Colorado State on Nov. 2.
Those games will do much more to determine what kind of season the Broncos will have than the first five, which contained few surprises other than the lopsided nature of the opening loss at Washington.
"It's such a game of confidence," coach Chris Petersen said. "The more these guys gain confidence that they can play, they can defend passes, they can make big plays once you get that mojo going, you start to change as a team. We're certainly not there but we're making some progress."
Senior quarterback Joe Southwick - 'stache-less this time - was 19-of-23 for 268 yards and three touchdowns, two of which came on scrambles.
Junior wide receiver Matt Miller made five catches for 107 yards and a TD, senior wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn made three catches for 104 yards and a TD and sophomore wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes contributed 127 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
"A little frustrated with the slow start," Southwick said, "but once we figured some things out, we got rolling."
The Broncos' point total was the highest allowed by Southern Miss since 1987 (Florida State, 61). The 53-point margin was the largest against Southern Miss since 1969 (a 69-7 loss to Ole Miss).
They did it with help from some old-fashioned Bronco funk.
Williams-Rhodes scored on a Fumblerooski-style play in the first quarter and Boldewijn scored on a play with three offensive linemen in the second quarter.
"We always kind of want to be wide open," Petersen said. "It's got to start with bread-and-butter football and then those other types of plays will help us."
The Fumblerooski came at the Southern Miss 10-yard line. On first down, the offensive line stood and pointed to the right while the ball was snapped to Southwick. Williams-Rhodes lined up at fullback and stayed in his stance. Southwick slipped the ball under Williams-Rhodes' legs and ran to the right. Williams-Rhodes took the ball to the left for the touchdown.
The second trick play came on a first down at the Southern Miss 42. The three interior linemen kept their positions and tailback Jay Ajayi stayed with Southwick. The rest of the offense, including the two tackles, split wide.
Boldewijn, split to the right, was left alone as the Golden Eagles had two defenders for three receivers. Boldewijn was wide open and, after a nifty cut, went 42 yards for the touchdown and a 17-7 lead.
Lawrence recorded his second blocked field goal of the game in the second quarter and cornerback Donte Deayon scooped up the ball. Deayon's 40-yard return set up a 27-yard TD drive. Southwick scrambled to his right and threw to Williams-Rhodes in the front corner of the end zone. Williams-Rhodes dove and got both hands under the ball. The catch was reviewed and upheld for a touchdown and 24-7 lead with 3:52 left in the half.
The Broncos got another crack with about 2 minutes left. Southwick went deep on the first play and Boldewijn made a leaping catch in tight coverage for a 52-yard gain. Ajayi finished the drive with a tough, 4-yard TD run up the middle. That gave the Broncos a 30-7 lead at half.
The Broncos added 17 points in the third quarter and 13 in the fourth quarter, mostly with backup quarterbacks in the game.
The defense limited Southern Miss to 266 yards and grabbed two interceptions. The Golden Eagles were 2-for-13 on third down, a major improvement for the Broncos.
Lawrence made five tackles and recorded a sack. Tackles Armand Nance (seven tackles) and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (five) also were impressive in the trenches.
"I thought our defense did a great job all game," Petersen said. "Our coaches made some good adjustments over the week."
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat