| March 22, 2018

Football: Tigers take over

The Idaho football team headed to Columbia, Missouri hoping they could finally take down a Power Five school. Try as they might the Vandals could not find their way, losing 68-21.

The first few minutes of the game sparked a little bit of hope. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock was picked off by senior defensive back Armond Hawkins on the first play of the game and Idaho took advantage of the early opportunity. Senior quarterback Matt Linehan got the ball to senior running back Aaron Duckworth who found his way up the sideline to the Missouri 7-yard line. From there, Linehan connected with senior linebacker Kaden Elliss in the end zone to take an early 7-0 lead.

The Tigers did not wait long to respond. Lock threw downfield where Emanuel Hall was waiting for a 45-yard gain. Missouri moved closer to the end zone until Lock found Al Okwuegbunam who rans 19 yards to the end zone with 11:12 left in the opening quarter. Nic Bartolotta made the extra point to level the score 7-7.

Idaho was not able to get anything going on the following drive, ending in a 58-yard punt from redshirt freshman Cade Coffey to put the opponents back at their own 15-yard line. Missouri opted to return the ball and return they did. Floyd Richaud made the catch and ran the length of the field for an 85-yard touchdown to give the lead back to Missouri 14-7 with less than nine minutes left to play in the first quarter.

The Tigers found the end zone once again on their next possession when Lock threw over the middle 15-yards to J’Mon Moore. The extra point was good and the home team took a 21-7 advantage with less than six minutes to go in the first.

In an attempt to get something going on the field, sophomore quarterback Mason Petrino replaced Linehan at quarterback, but this did not get the Vandals very far. Petrino was sacked for a loss to bring up 3rd and 14. Linehan came back into the game but had no better luck after another sack to bring up fourth down and a punt from Coffey.

Another long return from Missouri’s Richaud put the ball on the Idaho 37. The Tigers capitalized on the field position when Lock’s 18-yard pass to Okwuegbunam gave them their fourth touchdown of the first quarter. Missouri kicker Bartolotta failed to complete the second point attempt after the first attempt was nullified for illegal formation. Missouri held a 27-7 lead with 3:12 left to go in the first quarter.

The Vandals fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and Missouri recovered the ball at the Idaho 20. The home team took advantage of the opportunity and put the ball in the end zone once again to extend the lead to 34-7 with time still remaining in the quarter.

The Tigers stopped the Vandals and their next possession resulted in a field goal less than two minutes into the second quarter. Missouri went ahead 37-7.

Idaho got the ball back and slowly moved it down the field, culminating in a touchdown pass from Linehan to junior wide receiver David Ungerer in a 17-play drive and nearly nine minutes of possession. After an extra point from Coffey, Idaho closed the gap slightly to 37-14.

But once again, the Missouri offense showed no mercy on the opponents with a 45-second touchdown drive. Lock tossed the ball downfield where Kendal Blanton was waiting to make the 62-yard reception that put the Tigers at the Idaho 4-yard line. Seconds later, Ish Witter of Missouri scored and the opponents took a 44-14 lead.

After the Vandals came up empty, Missouri got the ball back and capped off the first half with another touchdown to take a 51-14 lead.

The second half looked better for the Vandals, but the 34 unanswered points in the first half proved to be too much to overcome.

Witters scored his second touchdown of the game several minutes into the third quarter to bring the score to 58-14.

Idaho was able to slow the opponents until late in the third quarter when Lock found Floyd for an 18-yard touchdown, furthering the Missouri lead to 65-14 with two minutes left until the fourth quarter.

With 11 minutes left in the game, the Tigers moved down the field but could not get into the end zone and settled for a field goal from Bartolotta, pushing the score out to 68-14.

Idaho capped the scoring off for the day late in the final quarter. Petrino finished out the game at quarterback and moved downfield where he connected with Ungerer for the team’s third touchdown of the game. After the extra point from Coffey, Idaho trailed 68-21.

Missouri finished the game with 658 total yards of offense, compared to only 278 from Idaho.

Linehan went 19-of-32, with 139 passing yards and two touchdowns. After his performance in Columbia he is now third on Idaho’s all-time passing list with a total 10,130 passing yards.

Hawkins’ interception in the opening minute of the game was the first of his career. The resulting play from Hawkins’ interception was Elliss’ first career touchdown reception.

Ungerer also had a good game with two touchdowns and four passes caught for 58 yards. This is his first game with more than one touchdown.

Mason Petrino also threw his first career touchdown and went 3-4 for 58 yards on the game.

Idaho has yet to defeat an SEC school, now 0-9 all-time record against the conference. The Vandals will have the chance to add one to the win column against SEC teams next season with a game against Florida.

Idaho returns home to face Louisiana-Monroe 2 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Kibbie Dome.

Meredith Spelbring can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on twitter at @mere0415

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