With fall just around the corner and the 2017 football season drawing closer, Vandal fans were given a taste of the future Friday afternoon in the Kibbie Dome.
The annual Silver and Gold game signaled the end of the spring season for Idaho and showcased the Vandals’ young talent ready to take the stage next fall.
Among the many new faces, a few familiar ones stood out. Senior quarterback Matt Linehan looked as efficient as ever, going 34 of 38 and throwing five touchdowns. Linehan, along with senior receiver Jacob Sannon led the Silver team, outscoring the Gold team 70-20.
Sophomore quarterback Mason Petrino led the Gold team, backed by redshirt freshman running back Dylan Thigpen.
The game did not start out as lopsided as the final score would imply.
An early turnover by the Silver team led to a defensive touchdown for the Gold, resulting in an early 7-7 tie.
The locked score did not last long.
Junior running back Isaiah Saunders did his part for the offense, powering into the red zone. Linehan took advantage of the short field, finding Sannon, who dodged a defender’s outstretched arms and blazed into the end zone. Sannon finished the game with 10 catches for 286 yards and five touchdowns. After both kickers made their extra point attempts, the Silver team went up 14-7.
After the game, Linehan said he was impressed by his receivers, especially Sannon.
“Our connection goes pretty deep,” Linehan said. “The comfort level is really high, and it’s one of those things where I trust whatever they’re going to do and they trust me to put the ball right on.”
The Gold team’s offense was stifled in the red zone on the following drive. Junior kicker Cade Coffey and sophomore kicker Sam Fenlason both made their field goals, cutting the deficit to four.
Linehan continued making his passes to Sannon look easy. A 40-yard connection put the Silver team on the 3-yard line. On the next play, Linehan faked the hand off and walked into the end zone untouched.
The defense again smothered the Gold team. Junior linebacker Tony Lashley nearly came away with an interception, but could not hold onto the ball. He came back with a tip on the next play, forcing the Gold team to punt.
Coffey and Fenlason both got their chance to punt, and both kickers pinned the ball on the five-yard line. Fenlason gave his kick more power with an aggressive backspin, while Coffey went with an end-over-end approach.
Another pass from Linehan to Sannon brought the Silver team back on the goal line not long after, and Thigpen came through to punch it in. Sannon scored on the Silver team’s next drive team, breaking away from defender on a short slant route. Following the extra point, the Silver team led 35-10.
Petrino put together a creative drive for the Gold team and scrambled his way to a touchdown.
Senior reciever Rueben Mwhela got his first score of the day on a short pass from Linehan, putting the Silver team up 49-20.
Thigpen came up with the longest play of the day, breaking off a 62-yard run. Thigpen was late to the huddle, and barely made it on to the field before taking the handoff.
Saunders scored the last touchdown of the day off a short pass from Linehan down on the goal line.
“I think we improved as a team,” Idaho head coach Paul Petrino said. “Right now, we are way better than we were on day one of spring ball.”
can be reached at