For years, Boise State's defense has taken a back seat to the Broncos clever, high-scoring offense.
But this year, the defense is taking every opportunity to change that perception.
Thanks to a fourth-quarter goal-line stand, a stifling run defense and constant quarterback pressure, it was the defense that led the 17th-ranked Boise State to a 38-3 victory over Louisiana Tech on Wednesday night.
``When our defense plays the way it did today, it gives us a lot of confidence,'' Broncos coach Chris Petersen said after his team won its 16th straight home game. ``Every defense wants to play like that. But these guys have really been backing it up.''
The offense didn't do too bad, either.
Kellen Moore threw for two touchdowns and D.J. Harper rushed for two more as the Broncos (4-0, 1-0 Western Athletic Conference) beat the Bulldogs (2-2, 0-1) for the seventh straight time.
Moore, a redshirt freshman, looked sharp again, finishing 20-of-28 for 325 yards before heading to the bench early in the fourth quarter.
The left-hander tossed a 13-yard TD to Jeremy Hawkins early in the first quarter, then hit a wide-open Chris O'Neill for a 44-yard score to put the Broncos up 14-0 early in the second.
The Broncos rolled up 464 yards of total offense, avoided turnovers and costly penalties and never let the Bulldogs get close.
Harper scored twice in the second half, both on 3-yard runs, and the Broncos committee of running backs rushed for 132 yards.
Going into the game, the Broncos focused on stopping Louisiana Tech's explosive special teams and knack for making big plays.
They did just that, keeping the Bulldogs' return game in check and allowing just two plays over 50 yards, both long passes by Taylor Bennett. Six times in the first three quarters the Bulldogs crossed midfield, but only managed three points.
Then early in the fourth quarter, the Boise State defense snuffed the Bulldogs four straight times after starting first-and-goal from the 3-yard line. The Broncos held Louisiana Tech to 118 yards rushing, well below their season average of 163.7.
``It's been our thing this year to step up big in the red zone,'' Broncos linebacker Kyle Ginng said. ``Our defense does not want to give them an inch.''
For the Bulldogs, it was a night of missed opportunities.
Ultimately, it wasn't the kind of performance envisioned by Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley, who talked all week about the need for his young team to take the next step by beating a quality opponent on the road on a national stage.
``It was a disappointing performance on our part,'' said Dooley, whose team lost at then-No. 14 Kansas earlier in the season. ``We've got a lot of freshmen and sophomores who don't know how to finish a drive. They whipped us at the line of scrimmage.
``Hopefully we'll learn and mature from these tough road games,'' he said.
Bennett, who initially committed to play at Boise State, struggled all night, finishing 9-of-27 for 202 yards and was sacked twice. He did connect on two long throws, a 53-yarder in the first half to R.P. Stuart and a 57-yarder to Phillip Livas late in the third.
The Bulldogs amassed 320 total yards, but were just 5-of-17 on third-down conversions.
Boise State scored on its second possession when Moore found Hawkins on a crossing route in the middle of the end zone. Moore, whose interception on the opening possession ended a scoring threat, was 4-of-5 on the drive.
The Broncos reached into the trick play chapter of the playbook to extend the lead early in the second quarter. From the Bulldogs 44, receiver Vinny Perretta took the snap and tossed to Moore, who found O'Neill all alone down the left sideline, putting the Broncos up 14-0.
The Bulldogs' lone score came the hard way. Starting from their own 1, Bennett led the Bulldogs to the red zone, the biggest play a 53-yard pass to R.P. Stuart. But the drive stalled, and Brad Oestreicher closed the gap to 14-3 with a 29-yard field goal.
Boise State added another touchdown in the final minutes of the first half when Titus Young went 15 yards around end.
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