PROVO, Utah —
Sophomore safety Dillon Lukehart was ejected in the third quarter when he was flagged for targeting. Lukehart hit wide receiver Cody Hoffman high at the goal line to break up a pass. The penalty carries an automatic ejection. Because it happened in the second half, Lukehart must sit the first half next week at Colorado State, too.
"I didn't get the up-close,tight replay," coach Chris Petersen said. "These guys call those things pretty tight these days."
Taylor Loffler replaced Lukehart, who started in place of injured Jeremy Ioane. Ioane made the trip and is week to week.
Petersen's worst half
Petersen's 100th game began with the worst first half of his head coaching career. The Broncos trailed 24-3 at halftime - their worst performance since falling into a 24-0 hole in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl against Boston College, the last game under coach Dan Hawkins. The Broncos rallied before losing that game 27-21.
BYU outgained Boise State 376-202 in the first half. The Cougars also capitalized on the lone turnover of the half, a fumble by Boise State wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes. The Broncos were moving, down 17-3, but quickly found themselves behind 24-3 after the turnover.
"This one's a little bit frustrating because we let them get out to that big lead," junior linebacker Corey Bell said. "It's just hard to come back from that."
A Boise State drive in the second quarter included one certain mistake and another possible mistake by the officiating crew.
First, the officials lost track of downs. The Broncos lined up for what should have been a fourth-and-4 from their own 41-yard line but the down markers said it was third down. Quarterback Grant Hedrick completed a pass to receiver Matt Miller for the first down.
"I asked the (official)," Petersen said. "I thought it was fourth down myself. I said, 'Is this third down?' He said, 'Third down.' "
Later, on fourth-and-1 at the BYU 12, Hedrick sneaked up the middle and appeared to cross the 11-yard line. The ball was spotted short of the 11 - ending the drive. The play was reviewed and upheld. "I asked (the officials) a bunch," Petersen said. "Grant felt like he got it."
The Broncos lost three fumbles, increasing their season total to seven. They lost nine all of last season and eight in 2011.
"They were back-breaking," Petersen said. "Really, really frustrating. You get to this point in the season. We still work on turnovers a couple times a week. I think the guys aren't taking it seriously enough. Now the speed of the game is different, but that can't happen."
The four total turnovers were the most in a game since the 2010 MAACO Bowl win against Utah.
Renaud, Odhiambo, Moore out
Boise State played without three starters who were considered week to week in addition to Ioane - middle linebacker Blake Renaud, right tackle Rees Odhiambo and wide receiver Kirby Moore. Renaud missed his second straight game, Odhiambo missed his second in a three-game stretch and Moore missed his fourth straight. Renaud (replaced by Tanner Vallejo) and Odhiambo (Steven Baggett) did not make the trip. Moore (Shane Williams-Rhodes) traveled and filled in as a play signaler.
The Broncos only had two quarterbacks on the trip - Hedrick and redshirt freshman backup Nick Patti. Starter Joe Southwick was home recovering from ankle surgery.
In all, the Broncos were missing six starters: Southwick, Ioane, Renaud, Odhiambo, Moore and linebacker Jonathan Brown.
Wale booms punt
Boise State redshirt freshman Sean Wale started at punter. His first kick was a low, rugby-style boot - and it traveled 62 yards. His previous long was 54 yards.
BYU safety Daniel Sorensen appeared to get knocked out in the second quarter when his head collided with Boise State tight end Jake Hardee's knee on a tackle attempt.
Sorensen was on his back for several minutes and was the subject of quick attention from trainers. It appeared family members came onto the field, too. After about 5 minutes, he was helped to his feet.
He had a concussion, according to BYU.
The Broncos played on grass for the first time since last year's season opener against Michigan State. They practiced on grass Tuesday. Boise State wore black pants, white jerseys and black helmets. Boise State's captains: safety Darian Thompson, left tackle Charles Leno Jr., Williams-Rhodes and linebacker Ben Weaver. Center Matt Paradis carried the Hammer, presumably for the offensive line that produced a 407-yard rushing game against Nevada. It was the second straight game that an offensive lineman carried it. Leno carried the Hammer vs. Nevada for his blocked field goal against Utah State. Petersen is 89-11 in his career. Attendance was 62,954, a little short of a sellout. BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman set a school record with his 31st career TD catch.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398; Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat