Still stinging from a season-opening heartbreaker to Michigan State, and behind in the second quarter 9-8, Boise State came to life for a 39-12 win over Miami of Ohio this afternoon in Bronco Stadium.
The Broncos rode the D.J. Harper Express for 162 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, and junior quarterback Joe Southwick made great strides in a 24-31 performance to lead the Boise State offense that was missing in action two weeks ago against Michigan State. And with the steady play of the Bronco defense, that was all it took to notch victory number one of the season.
Harper complemented his career-high rushing total with a diving catch of a 21-yard pass from Southwick for another score, and ran in a two-point conversion as well as Boise State won its eleventh straight home opener. Harper's 26 points are the third-most in school history and his four touchdowns are the best for a Bronco player since Doug Martin ran for four TD's against New Mexico State in 2009.
Given holes that were not there against Michigan State, Harper showed great vision and picked his way for big gain after big gain. True freshman Jack Fields sprang loose for 54 yards on 13 carries and Drew Wright managed 33 yards on 7 carries.
Meanwhile, Southwick threw for 304 yards and completed an amazing 16 of his final 17 passes. His throws were crisp and sure, and he looked like a gunslinger tossing the ball to nine different Bronco receivers.
Matt Miller was the beneficiary of seven of those Southwick aerials for 76 yards as the tall, talented Miller presented a mismatch on nearly any play Southwick wanted to throw to him. Aaron Burks enjoyed the best game of his collegiate career, hauling in three catches for 67 yards. Kirby Moore had two receptions, but proved invaluable as a blocker downfield, springing his receiver mates several times by locking down his defender.
Miami (1-2) grabbed a 9-8 lead in the second quarter after a fumble recovery by Pat Hinkel put the Redhawks in business with a first and goal at the nine. Spencer Treadwell tossed a two-yard TD pass to Andy Cruse for the go-ahead score.
It's said that great teams respond to opponents' scores with scores of their own, and Boise Stage came right back with a seven-play, 75-yard drive, as Harper dashed over from the 1 to take a lead it would not relinquish afterwards.
Demarcus Lawrence led Boise State with seven tackles while J.C. Percy had six. Armand Nance had four tackles in limited action while registering 1.5 sacks.
Boise State braces for BYU Thursday night. Kickoff for that nationally-televised game is set for 7 p.m.