An explosive showing by the Idaho offense wasn’t enough to down Western Michigan Saturday in the Kibbie Dome as the Broncos countered with some big plays of their own. Idaho fell to the Broncos 45-33 in the Vandals’ home opener to fall to 0-2 on the season.
“They just out-executed us,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “They out-coached us and outplayed us.”
Idaho’s next shot at its first win of the season is next Saturday against another MAC opponent, Ohio, in Athens, Ohio.
Despite the defensive woes, the Vandal offense was explosive scoring more than 30 points for the second straight week. Freshman quarterback Matt Linehan went 27-of-41 passing for a whopping 362 yards and three touchdowns to one interception. His primary target was senior wide receiver Josh McCain who had seven receptions for 128 yards and one touchdown.
“Today, there’s a lot of good things we can build off of,” Linehan said. “I think there’s a lot of talent on offense, especially in that receiver group and the o-line has a lot of talent. We just gotta put it together — we’re close.”
Sophomore wide receiver Richard Montgomery added 153 all-purpose yards and a touchdown for Idaho between his running, receiving and kick return duties. His touchdown came on a crossing route early in the second quarter. He caught the ball in the middle of the field and sprinted 62 yards to help bring Idaho back within four points at 21-17 with 11:44 left in the half.
“When we get big plays like that it gives the offensive line time to get some rest,” Montgomery said. “So it’s always good to have big plays where we make it happen so everyone can get their breath and go out and do it again.”
Montgomery, who was slowed down by cramps in the second half, said he considers himself to primarily be a receiver now after playing running back as a freshman last season.
But as good as Idaho’s offense played, Western Michigan played better. Missed tackles and missed assignments plagued the Vandal defense as the Broncos poured on 484 yards of total offense.
“We tried different things (after halftime), we just didn’t execute very well,” Petrino said. “It was more just getting our butt kicked. You can say whatever you want about it, they just kicked our butt.”
The star for Western Michigan was freshman running back Jarvion Franklin. At 6-foot, 220 pounds, Franklin bruised his way to 210 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He now has six touchdowns through two games played.
“He’s a really good running back, he’s a true freshman though so we just wanted to attack and hit him,” senior defensive end Maxx Forde said of Franklin. “Wanted to let him know we were there, kind of welcome him to college football. He did a good job, ran tough, ran through a lot of our tackles — we didn’t tackle well enough today.”
The Broncos also found some room through the air. Sophomore quarterback Zach Terrell passed for 218 yards and three touchdowns despite only completing eight passes on the day.
“If they score that many points, we should win the game every time,” Forde said after the 45-33 loss. “We can’t be letting up that many points. We gotta really dig deep, find ourselves and play better because what we’ve been doing hasn’t been good enough.”
Petrino said the offense is much improved from last year but he still needs to see improvement on special teams and defense, although he was impressed with punter Austin Rehkow.
Freshman offensive lineman Jordan Rose and senior tight end Justin Podrabsky were two Vandals who suffered injuries on Friday. Rose came out of the locker room sporting crutches and wearing a boot later in the game. Neither player returned to the game after going down, but the extent of their injuries wasn’t known after the game, Petrino said.
Next, Idaho plays at Ohio on Saturday followed by a home game against conference foe South Alabama on Sept. 27.
“We get another shot at home sooner or later,” Montgomery said. “We just gotta pick it up from there and put this game behind us. It was a tough loss but we’ll pick it up and finally get this thing rolling.”
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at email@example.com