Don’t look now, but Boise State’s defense has become a regular bunch of ballhawks. At least by the standard the Broncos set a majority of the season.
After getting the team’s third interception last week against San Jose State, they had their first multiple-turnover game Saturday at Hawaii, getting another interception and a fumble recovery.
“Oh my gosh, it’s amazing. We’ve been talking about turnovers since spring ball. We were getting a lot of turnovers in practice this week, so we had a good feeling going into this game,” sophomore defensive tackle David Moa said.
The Broncos got their first one of the day on senior safety Chanceller James’ interception of wide receiver Keelan Ewaliko’s pass on a trick play, returning it to the Broncos’ own 45. Using the short field, the offense marched down and scored six plays later for a 28-0 lead. It was James’ second interception in the past three games.
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On the first Hawaii drive of the second half, Boise State found the rarest of birds: a fumble recovery. Linebacker Joe Martarano disrupted the exchange between quarterback Dru Brown and running back Paul Harris, and defensive end Durrant Miles jumped on the loose ball. It was the Broncos’ second fumble recovery of the season. Boise State entered the game last in the FBS with five takeaways. The offense also was turnover-free.
“We’ve talked about it enough,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “These guys understand if you win the turnover battle, you win the game. Offensively, we hung onto it. Defensively, we got it, but why did we get it? We got it from being in the right position, by playing with great eyes. We got it by being physical with multiple people around the ball.”
BRONCOS SAY ‘MAHALO’ TO VETS
Boise State sported a bit of a new look Saturday, with stars-and-stripes patterns on the numbers on the side of the team’s blue helmets, a tribute to veterans of the armed forces. The Broncos visited Pearl Harbor on Veterans Day.
“It was great, honoring Veterans Day and all the veterans that served our country. It was a great experience,” senior linebacker Tanner Vallejo said.
It was the first time in the Broncos’ five road games they wore anything but their all-white uniforms. They wore their white jerseys and blue pants with the blue helmets. Hawaii wore white helmets, green jerseys and gray pants.
COTA’S ABSENCE PROMPTS SNAP CHANGES
Junior long snapper Matt Cota, who played in all nine games prior to Saturday, did not make the trip to Honolulu. Harsin said it was not as a punishment. In his place, junior wide receiver Brock Barr handled snapping duties on punts, and true freshman Nicholai Pitman snapped on extra points. Pitman had not played this season, making him the 10th true freshman to see action in 2016.
“Brock Barr probably had the most stress on him this entire week of any players,” Harsin said.
Senior wide receiver Taylor Pope carried the Hammer before the game. ... Boise State senior cornerback Jonathan Moxey had four pass breakups, one fewer than the most by a player in the Football Bowl Subdivision in a single game this season. ... Vallejo led Boise State with eight tackles, two for loss. ... Hawaii rushed for 234 yards, their second-most in a game since the season-opener Aug. 27 against Cal in Sydney, Australia. ... Boise State converted 9-of-13 third downs, Hawaii was 6-of-14.