Boise State junior linebacker Ben Weaver went through the first 34 games of his career — 26 of them starts — without an interception.
And now he has a three-game interception streak.
Weaver picked off San Jose State’s Kenny Potter in the fourth quarter Friday at Spartan Stadium moments after the Broncos took a 23-10 lead. The turnover resulted in a field goal as the Broncos pulled away for a 40-23 win.
“I guess three years of preparing finally started to pay off a little bit,” Weaver said.
Fellow linebacker Joe Martarano (Fruitland High) made a one-handed interception later in the quarter — the first of his career. The Broncos have 22 interceptions this season.
“Joey Martarano might have had one of the most spectacular catches I’ve ever seen by anybody, let alone a linebacker,” coach Bryan Harsin said.
Injuries force defensive juggle
Boise State started three players out of position on defense because of injuries — including one that happened during warmups.
Senior linebacker Tyler Gray tweaked something before the game, Harsin said, and couldn’t play. The Broncos shifted middle linebacker Tanner Vallejo to nickel/strong-side linebacker, where he played last season. Martarano made his third start of the season at middle linebacker.
Vallejo led the team with nine tackles. Martarano was second with eight. Weaver added four.
“For that linebacker group to play the way they did, that’s a credit to those guys,” Harsin said.
The starting safeties were junior Chanceller James and senior Mercy Maston, who have spent most of the year playing nickel. James has played safety in three straight games but Maston, a former cornerback, is a newcomer to the job.
Maston started over sophomore Kam Miles, who replaced the injured Dylan Sumner-Gardner earlier this season. Maston made seven tackles.
“It was just his chance,” defensive coordinator Marcel Yates said. “I gave Kam a chance last week (against Air Force) and he didn’t play as well as we wanted him to so it was just time for us to give Mercy a chance. He had a good week of practice and I thought he played well tonight. ... I don’t remember anything he did that hurt us.”
Senior safety Darian Thompson (concussion) and senior wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes (ankle) missed their second straight games. The Broncos have played five straight games without either senior cornerback Donte Deayon (Wyoming, UNLV, New Mexico) or Thompson (Air Force, San Jose State), two defensive stars.
True freshman cornerback Tyler Horton, a key backup, also didn’t play because of injury.
Wide receiver Austin Cottrell left the game with a leg injury and was wearing a protective boot on the sideline.
Boise State wore blue pants, white jerseys and orange helmets. The Broncos lost to Ole Miss and Air Force last year in the debut of the orange helmets and beat Idaho State in them earlier this year. ... The single-game captains were WR Terrell Johnson and DE Sam McCaskill. ... TE Jake Roh carried the Hammer. ... Boise State won the coin toss and deferred. ... Boise State is 12-0 against San Jose State all-time. ... Kicker Tyler Rausa made his FBS-best 23rd field goal of the season. He’s one off the school record of 24, set by Tyler Jones in 2004.