Kellen Moore came to work and wasn’t in the mood for relaxation.
Moore threw a career-best five touchdown passes and No. 6 Boise State forced turnover after turnover in a dominating 54-9 victory over Hawaii on Saturday night to remain unbeaten and in the BCS race.
“We’re really proud of how we came out here. It’s a totally different environment than we are used to,” Moore said. “If you relax too much, you get into the vacation atmosphere. I think we focused well.”
The Broncos (7-0, 2-0 Western Athletic Conference) looked confident and sharp, building a 44-0 lead by the third quarter behind their stifling defense. For the night, the Broncos forced six turnovers that led to 30 points.
“Tons of credit to our defense,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “If we play that way on defense, we will be hard to stop.”
Jeron Johnson intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble on Hawaii’s opening drive that ignited Boise State’s scoring performance.
“You get one, you want to get another one,” Johnson said. “You get two, you want to get another. That’s how it was all night. We just kept fighting, trying to get the ball.”
Boise State, which didn’t have a single takeaway in its two previous games, had everything working in its way, from trick plays to fourth-down conversions.
Moore, who leads the nation in passing efficiency, was 18 of 30 for 223 yards. Four of his scoring throws came in the first half. He has thrown 21 TD passes with just two interceptions on the season.
Despite the big lead, Moore played the entire game.
Petersen said backup Mike Coughlin got dinged up his only play, an 8-yard run, so he was forced to play Moore the whole game.
Titus Young had eight catches for 115 yards and three TDs, including a 48-yarder in the third quarter. After the catch, Young flashed the hang loose “shaka” sign in front of the cheering Broncos fans, which quickly drew a flag and caught the ire of his coaches.
Meanwhile, the year continued to get uglier for the injury-plauged Warriors (2-5, 0-4), who have lost five straight for the first time since 1998. The 45-point loss was Hawaii’s worst since losing by 46 to top-ranked Southern California to open the 2005 season.
“Things piled on us early,” Hawaii coach Greg McMackin said.
Bryant Moniz, who started the season as the third-string quarterback, made his third straight start for Hawaii and sustained a concussion near the end of the opening quarter. He was replaced by Shane Austin, who was ineffective and threw three interceptions and one late scoring pass.
“We were down to our fourth quarterback,” McMackin said. “I thought he came in and did as good as he could.”
Boise State scored 24 points in the second quarter, including 17 off three Hawaii turnovers. The scoring took the steam out of the Warriors on a muggy night at Aloha Stadium, where the Broncos are 4-4.
They had lost two previous trips to Honolulu. With the 2007 WAC title on the line, the Broncos lost to Hawaii 39-27 to close the regular season and ended the year losing to East Carolina in the Hawaii Bowl.
“We needed a big victory for ourselves,” Moore said. “We certainly feel we didn’t play up to our potential the last two weeks, and I think we can feel pretty good about our performance and get at it on both sides of the ball and we’re excited about that.”
Greg Salas was stripped by Winston Venable while fighting for some extra yards and Brand Thompson recovered on the Hawaii 14. Moore threw a dart to Austin Pettis on the next play, putting Boise State up 17-0.
Austin finally got the Warriors moving in the quarter, driving all the way to the Broncos 14. But his pass was snatched away in the end zone by Johnson. Boise State scored five plays later on Moore’s 24-yard TD pass to Young for a 24-0 lead. On the 80-yard drive, Pettis showed his versatility, completing a 28-yard pass to Kyle Efaw.
Young also hauled in a 10-yard TD pass to put Boise State up 31-0 with 1:22 left in the half. And the Broncos weren’t done yet.
Hunter White intercepted a pass by Austin, leading to Kyle Brotzman’s 28-yard field goal that gave the Broncos a 34-0 lead at halftime.
Brotzman also had a career night with four field goals.
Boise State also used trickery a few times. After failing to convert on its first three third-down attempts, Boise State went for it on fourth-and-2 from the Hawaii 35 and scored.
With a defender charging at him, Moore dumped a play-action pass to Tyler Shoemaker who ran virtually untouched into the end zone to put Boise State up 10-0.
The Broncos converted just three of their 13 third-down attempts, but were perfect on three fourth-down tries.