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Johnson helps Boise State beat Idaho to grab WAC lead

Oct 22, 2006 - 12:45 AM MOSCOW, Idaho (Ticker) -- Boise State claimed sole possession of first place in the Western Athletic Conference because of another stellar effort from running back Ian Johnson.

Johnson ran for four touchdowns for a second straight game as the 18th-ranked Broncos remained undefeated with a 42-26 triumph over Idaho.

Jared Zabransky completed just 10-of-22 passes for 145 yards with an interception but threw two TDs for the Broncos (8-0, 4-0 WAC), who entered the contest tied atop the conference standings with the Vandals (4-4, 3-1).

The nation's sixth-leading rusher at 142.57 yards per game, Johnson gained 183 yards on 27 carries for Boise State, which beat Idaho for an eighth straight meeting. Johnson also ran for four scores on Sunday in a 40-28 win at New Mexico State.

The Vandals pulled within 28-26 on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Steven Wichman to Marlon Haynes with 7:05 to play, but Orlando Scandrick deflected Wichman's two-point conversion pass.

Rashaun Scott gained 42 yards on the ensuing kickoff and kicker Tino Amancio made a late hit, giving Boise State the ball at the Idaho 25. Five plays later, Johnson scored on a four-yard run for a 35-26 lead with 5:02 to play.

"We had all the momentum going in the world," Idaho coach Dennis Erickson said. "We're playing good on defense. We were moving the football some. We had a chance to make a big play. We kick it, the guy returns it and we get a penalty. We lose everything. On one play."

Wichman threw an incomplete pass on 4th-and-5 with 3:13 to go, and Johnson iced the contest with a 12-yard TD run four plays later. It was Johnson's national-best 18th TD run this season.

The Broncos will be favored in their four remaining contests - home games vs. Fresno State, San Jose State and Utah State and at Nevada - as they aim for a fifth straight WAC title and perhaps a bid in their first BCS bowl game. Boise State was 15th in the first BCS standings and needs to finish in the top 12 to be guaranteed a spot in one of the five main bowl games.

Wichman finished 24-of-45 for 328 yards, three TDs and two interceptions.

"Our guys played well," Erickson said. "They fought like heck. They did what we asked them. We made too many mental mistakes. We broke down a little bit up front on a couple runs. It wasn't the physical aspect at all or the effort.

"We all know they're a good football team. I know it. You know it. I also think we're a pretty good football team. We have a lot ways to go in this program but we're seeing some light at the end of the tunnel."

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