If there was ever a game that rolled Idaho’s entire 2012 season condensed in to a single 60-minute package then this would be that game.
Idaho lost 34-27 to Texas-San Antonio in its final home game, once again agonizing over what could or should have been — Once again falling short in a one possession game.
Even in life after Robb Akey the mantra of ‘Finish’ continues to fall short. After overcoming a 17-point halftime deficit to tie the game early in the fourth quarter the Vandals let the game quickly slip away due to a series of miscues.
It didn’t help any that Idaho had to overcome a 20-3 halftime deficit in order to even lose the game in close fashion, a first half interim coach Jason Gesser described as “blah.”
But it was a different Vandal team after the half.
Quarterback Taylor Davis came off the bench and gave the Vandal offense life, leading Idaho to 17 unanswered points to tie the game at 20 early in the fourth quarter, only to be plagued by the same problems that have doomed Idaho in its previous close games.
There wasn’t much time to celebrate tying the game at 20. A conceded deep ball, late hit out of bounds by the Idaho defense, a three-and-out from the at the time hot Idaho offense and a blocked punt was all the roadrunners to need to rebuild its lead to 34-20 late in the fourth quarter.
Just as hope seemed to dissipate, again, the Vandals gave reason to be hopeful, again. Davis shrugged off the previous drive to find receiver Mike Scott standing all by himself in the endzone for the touchdown to draw Idaho to within one possession. That momentum was killed when senior punt-returner Justin Veltung fumbled a UTSA punt back to the roadrunners, choosing to try and pick up a bouncing punt off the turf instead of letting it roll.
“We win as a team, we lose as a team,” Scott said he told Veltung after the game. “The game is not predicated on one play.”
Scott is probably right. The Vandals had numerous other opportunities to swing the game towards the silver and gold.
Such as, just prior to the punt blocked by UTSA, Davis overthrew a wide open Jahrie Level on a route that likely would have ended up with six. Davis missed a similar shot down the sideline to end the first half, but he was being hit as he was threw.
Then of course there is the drive that led to the game-tying field goal, which Idaho will likely lament not converting for a touchdown. Idaho successfully executed a fake punt, a Bobby Cowan strike to freshman receiver Camryn Harris down the sideline which Harris took all the way down to the UTSA 2-yard line.
A series of substitution, formation, time-management and penalty miscues quickly turned 1st and goal from the 2-yard line in to 1st and goal from the 17-yard line. Idaho couldn’t convert the touchdown, barely missing a connection from Davis to tight end Michael LaGrone in the back of the endzone on third down.
“It’s not rocket science,” Gesser said. “We beat ourselves. We gave them every opportunity and they took advantage of it.”
It’s all too similar to losses to Wyoming and Bowling Green where untimely turnovers doomed Idaho to close losses. The first half was reminiscent of the hopeless efforts in losses to North Carolina, Texas State and La. Tech.
It’s just been that kind of year, and that kind of the last two, three years for most of the seniors on this roster playing their final collegiate games at the Kibbie Dome.
Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda — Vandal football.
– Taylor Davis’ 3 TD 1 INT performance earned him the start in Idaho’s season finale at Utah State. Davis is Idaho’s third starting quarterback this season.
– Gesser said after the game he has been told will be involved in the interview process for the permanent head coaching job. Athletic director Rob Spear is still in the process of phone-interviews with candidates before narrowing his list down to five or less he’ll interview in person. Gesser said being 0-3 probably doesn’t help his case much.
– Be sure to check out our photo gallery of the game