Prosser's Moore passes Boise State by New Mexico

By Chadd Cripe, McClatchy Newspapers December 4, 2011 

BOISE, Idaho -- The opponent was irrelevant Saturday afternoon at Bronco Stadium.

And it probably would have been that way even if someone other than the woeful New Mexico Lobos were on the other sideline.

It was Senior Day for a class of 21 players who helped transform the Boise State football program from underdog to bully.

"Our message was we need to finish this thing with the standards that they have set for this program -- and we really didn't need to say much more after that," coach Chris Petersen said. "Those guys get it and they knew how they wanted to play their last game on the Blue."

The No. 9 Broncos put on a show in the 45-0 victory -- the defense pitched a shutout, senior quarterback Kellen Moore was nearly perfect and the offense generated five touchdowns, a field goal and a missed field goal in Moore's seven drives.

Moore was 28-of-33 for 313 yards and three touchdowns. His first pass was broken up by a New Mexico defender. The other four incompletions came on three drops -- including one in the end zone -- and a ball caught barely out of bounds.

That means he hit his receiver in the hands on his last 32 passes on a windy day.

"He was dead-on, and again I think the leader of the whole senior class sets the standard and sets the tone," Petersen said. "That's about as clean as you can play."

The defense played nearly spotless, too.

The Lobos managed 197 yards and eight first downs and seemed more interested in holding the ball than scoring. They averaged 3.5 yards per play.

It was the Broncos' first shutout of the season.

"It meant a lot to us," senior safety Cedric Febis said. "We are a very good senior class, so it meant a lot for us to go out with a bang."

Eighteen of the 21 seniors started, including 10 on defense. Tailback Doug Martin rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker made seven catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Kyle Efaw caught a TD pass. Febis tied for the team lead with eight tackles, linebacker Byron Hout added seven tackles and two pass breakups and defensive end Shea McClellin set the defensive tone with a sack on the third play of the game.

And for Moore and Shoemaker, there was a fitting moment to celebrate five years of collaboration and friendship -- starting with their days on the scout team in 2007.

Midway through the first quarter, Shoemaker broke in front of his defender at the goal line and collected a 16-yard strike from Moore for a touchdown.

It was Moore's 40th TD pass of the season -- breaking his own school record from 2009.

And it was Shoemaker's 15th TD catch of the season -- breaking Austin Pettis' record, also from 2009.

Shoemaker is a former walk-on from Mountain View High.

"That was big -- obviously a very important thing for us to get done this week," Moore said. "All the things Shoe has gone through, for me personally going through this whole journey with him. It was very special."

Shoemaker entered the season with nine career touchdown catches. He was a role player alongside Pettis and Titus Young the past two seasons and was asked to lead an inexperienced receiving corps this season.

"One of the reasons we had a really good year was a guy like Tyler Shoemaker who's a senior, who had played well for us, but who I don't think anybody thought going into this deal was going to set a touchdown record for Boise State," Petersen said. "For that to happen, fortunes will change for your offense, at least."

That offense also has Moore, who increased his completion percentage from 71.3 last year to 74.1 this year despite the new receivers. He hit five different receivers on his first five completions and 10 different receivers by halftime.

Moore probably won't return to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York, where he finished fourth last year, but his coach says that's not a reflection of his play.

"It's by far his best year," Petersen said. "You talk about standards -- he set the standard for quarterback play throughout the country for four years."

It's a bar that will be nearly impossible for Moore's replacement -- perhaps sophomore backup Joe Southwick, perhaps a youngster fans haven't seen play yet -- to clear.

Then again, you could say that about many positions on this team.

The Broncos' seniors are 49-3 in their four-year careers -- tying the 2009 class for most wins. That group was 49-4 and only had two four-year contributors.

Most of this class has played since 2008.

"In some ways, it's awesome to set standards like that," Petersen said. "In some ways, it's not so good for the expectations, because in some ways they're just unrealistic, what these guys have done -- and I think that says it all.

"These guys have a chance to win 50 games. Those expectations are totally unrealistic. You don't expect anyone to do that."

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