Vandals lose conference opener to Utah State
LOGAN, Utah - Saturday's Western Athletic Conference football opener for the Idaho Vandals had a storyline that is all too familiar - some good, some bad and some ugly. The result was a 42-17 loss at Utah State.
"This football team has to play better than it did," coach Robb Akey said after a game during which the Vandals yielded 21 fourth-quarter points while going scoreless themselves. "The defense has to stop people. You tackle the guy who has the football. You be where you're supposed to be even if the guy who's usually there isn't."
Idaho lost starting safety Shiloh Keo to a shoulder injury in the first half and starting receiver Maurice Shaw to an ankle in the second. Those weren't excuses, however, for Akey. Throughout the day, Idaho struggled to move the ball - either through the air or on the ground. Defensively, the Vandals would hold for a play or two before the Aggies popped up with big gains.
When the final numbers were tallied, Idaho had covered 271 total yards. The Aggies had 580.
There were some bright spots. Freshman receiver Preston Davis pulled in six passes for 52 yards, while senior H-back Eddie Williams had five for 70. Senior punter T.J. Conley boomed a 74-yarder en route to an average of 51.8 on five kicks.
The first three quarters were a slugfest with the teams trading scores and big plays.
The Vandals made the most of their first opportunity, which was given to them when Andrew Blevins recovered an Aggie fumble at the Idaho 34. Using a mix of passes, rushes and penalties, the Vandals marched in to score when Enderle found Williams crossing the end zone with 6:08 left in the first. With the successful PAT, the 7-yard scoring pass made it 7-0 - a score that held up through the opening period.
The Aggies responded as the second quarter reached the midpoint when quarterback Diondre Borel wiggled through the middle of the line en route to a 33-yard scoring run. Utah State was aided on the drive, which started at its own 22, when Idaho was called for an illegal block. Instead of stopping the Aggies on their own 18, Utah State made the most of its second chance to score with 8:21 left in the period.
The teams traded punches before USU mounted a serious threat as the second quarter wound down. Jeromy Jones brought it to an abrupt end when he picked off Borel's pass at the Idaho 15 with 13 seconds before the half.
Idaho started the second half strong with a length of the field march to score with 9:17 left in the third when Enderle found Preston Davis for a 6-yard scoring pass. Amancio's kick made it 14-7.
Utah State's response was quick. The Aggies needed just seven plays - with the scoring play covering 46 yards, to tie the game at 14 with 5:53 left in the third. Burel found Stanley Morrison a step behind the Idaho defense with the scoring strike.
Idaho settled for a 43-yard field goal on its next possession after stalling at the Utah State 26. Amancio's boot with 2:10 left in the third pushed the Vandals up by three, 17-14.
The Aggies took the lead for the first time when, after a 49-yard run by Robert Turbin advanced the ball deep into Idaho territory, Borel found Jeremy Mitchell with a 15-yard TD pass with 34 seconds left in the third. The PAT pushed USU ahead 21-17.
That was the beginning of a monumental momentum swing. The Aggies pinned the Vandals against their own end zone and Enderle fumbled as he was sacked. Ben Calderwood recovered the ball for the score with 12 minutes left in the game. With the PAT, the Aggies led 28-17.
They added to that bulge when, on fourth-down-and-inches, Enderle attempted to go deep only to have the ball picked off by James Brindley. Brindley returned the ball to the Idaho 41 where, on the next play, Curtis Marsh darted out to the right sidelined and raced 41 yards for the score that put Utah State ahead 35-17 with 8:03 to play.
Utah State wrapped up the scoring on a 26-yard run by Robert Turbin with 1:08 to go.