Vandals fall in California
FRESNO, Calif. - Idaho's Vandals had one of their most productive games of the fall in pestering Fresno State throughout the night before eventually falling 45-32 in a Western Athletic Conference game.
"I like the way we showed improvement," coach Robb Akey said. "They fought to the very last second. That's the effort that's going to allow us to get it pushed through."
The Vandals indeed kept the chilly crowd wondering if they would complete their comeback. After a two-point conversion closed the gap to 42-32, Idaho wasn't able to convert on a second onside kick attempt. The defense, however, held up and forced a 46-yard field goal by Kevin Goessling to push the Bulldogs ahead by 15 with almost five minutes to go.
"We got it down to a score and a half," Akey said. "We're getting closer."
The Vandals won the total offense battle with their second-best outing of the fall - 452 yards (237 passing and 215 rushing).
"I wish they'd give us point for yards," Akey quipped when asked about outgaining the Bulldogs. "We moved the ball successfully."
There were times when the Vandals were their own worst enemy either in the form of untimely penalties or big plays given up to the Bulldogs.
Deonte` Jackson led the rushing effort with 93 yards on 18 carries. Troy Vital had 48 on eight. True freshman Preston Davis continued to show the poise of someone much older with six receptions for 77 yards and two TDs. He added another 19 yard rushing.
Senior go-to h-back Eddie Williams was his steady self with six receptions for 68 yards.
Defensively, Jonathan Faraimo had 13 stops and Jeromy Jones had 10.
The Vandals started the game with a steady drive to the Fresno State 12. Although it stalled there after Troy Vital was tackled for a one-yard loss, Tino Amancio was successful on the 29-yard field goal attempt for a 3-0 Idaho lead with 10:02 to play in the opening quarter.
The Bulldogs' answer was to respond with a score of their own when quarterback Tom Brandstater slipped through from less than one yard to score with 4:19 to go in the opening period for a 7-3 FSU lead.
Fresno State's next score was part execution of a sustained drive and good fortune. After driving to the Idaho seven, Anthony Harding appeared to be stopped short of the first down when he fumbled the ball forward into the endzone. Seyi Ajirotutu covered it for the TD with 13:18 to go before the half. Kevin Goessling second successful PAT kick of the game gave the Bulldogs a 14-3 advantage.
Idaho put together one of its most productive drives of late in the second quarter when it marched from its own 33 to score on true freshman Preston Davis' athletic grab of a 17-yard Nathan Enderle pass in the front left corner of the endzone. Amancio's PAT brought the Vandals to within 14-10 with 1:28 to go in the second. The drive was a blend of runs by Deonte` Jackson, Princeton McCarty and Troy Vital and yard-gobbling passes to Davis.
The Bulldogs didn't need much time to rebuild their cushion. They covered 65 yards in eight plays and used just 1:06 to increase their lead to 21-10 on Ajirotutu's 10-yard TD reception with just 22 seconds to go before the half.
Their next score took even fewer plays - although slightly more time. They opened the second half with an 85-yard, four play scoring drive that was capped by Ryan Mathews 20-yard TD. With just one minute, 47 second gone in the second, Fresno State was up 28-10.
The Vandals were their own worst enemy on their first possession of the second half. After driving to the Fresno State 10, Quin Ashley fumbled and the ball was recovered by FSU's Chris Lewis. On the next play, Lonyae Miller squirmed through the left side the line and outran the Vandal defense for the 90-yard score with 8:52 to go in the third. With the PAT, the Bulldogs led 35-10.
Idaho's offense clicked the next time it had the ball. After Kama Bailey returned the kick to the Vandals' 39, Enderle guided a scoring drive that included runs by and passes to McCarty and Davis with Davis providing the finishing touch. His somersaulting 22-yard grab made it 35-17 with 4:56 to go in the third.
The touchdown trading continued with Vince Pascoe scoring the next Fresno State TD on a nine-yard pass from Brandstater. The 26-yard, three-play scoring drive was set up by a 46-yard punt return that gave the Bulldogs the ball deep in Idaho territory. With just five seconds elapsed in the fourth, it was 42-17.
The Vandals lit the scoreboard again on Lee Smith's leaping catch of a 22-yard Enderle pass with 10:22 to play to cut the FSU lead to 42-24. The score capped a 78-yard, 11-play drive.
A successful onside kick gave Idaho the ball at its own 40. Six plays later Jackson bounced outside and crossed over from the two to make it 42-30. With the two-point conversion pass from Enderle to Smith, it was 42-32 with 7:48 remaining.
Idaho's next onside kick attempt didn't work but the Vandal defense held and the Bulldogs resorted to a 46-yard field goal to go up 45-32 with 4:57 to go.