Landover, Md. Kellen Moore and Boise State look as if they are going to be in the national championship chase for a while.
Moore hit Austin Pettis with a 13-yard touchdown pass with 1:09 left, and No. 3 Boise State passed what might be its toughest test of the season, beating No. 10 Virginia Tech, 33-30, on Monday night.
The Broncos (1-0) came to FedEx Field with their best preseason ranking ever and ran out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, then had to rally themselves to extend their winning streak to 15 games.
Tyrod Taylor passed for 186 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 73 yards for the Hokies (0-1), who for the fourth straight season took a deflating early season loss.
As for the Broncos, even with 11 games left in the season, the debate will start about whether they should become the first team from a conference without an automatic BCS bid to play for a national championship if they go undefeated.
“Game 1, and that’s what it is,” said Chris Petersen, who improved to 50-4 as coach of Boise State. “We’re just pleased to get out of here with a ‘W.”’
Moore, the undersized Heisman Trophy contender, threw for 215 yards and three touchdowns. He led a five-play, 56-yard touchdown drive in the final two minutes — aided by a Virginia Tech personal foul penalty. After hitting Pettis on a quick slant for the winner, Moore sprinted to midfield with his hands raised high, waiting for a teammate to come and celebrate with him.
The winningest team of the past decade in major college football, Boise State yet again was forced to prove it was worthy of all the accolades — this time far from home on a field that was anything but neutral, packed with Hokies fans.
When it was over, they were taking a victory lap, exchanging high-fives with their fans who made the long trip.
Boise State took the 17-0 lead by taking advantage of a handful of critical Virginia Tech mistakes that set up two TD passes by Moore. But by halftime the Hokies had climbed back into it with Ryan Williams scoring twice to cut the halftime lead to 20-14.
On Boise State’s first possession of the second half, Moore fumbled when he cocked to throw and hit his own lineman. Virginia Tech recovered at the Broncos 31 and Williams completed the fifth scoring drive of less than 40 yards in the game with a 1-yard run around the right side.
Taylor bounded off the field and leaped into a side bump with a teammate. Virginia Tech, after a nearly burying itself in the first quarter, had its first lead at 21-20.
It lasted about a minute on the clock. D.J. Harper broke a tackle at the line on a third-and-one and outran the Hokies for a 71-yard touchdown. No questioning Boise State’s speed on that play.