Idaho suffered another tough 17-10 loss to the New Mexico State Aggies in Las Cruces Saturday afternoon, after trying to overcome an early 14-point deficit.
The Vandals (3-8, SBC 2-5) found themselves in a hole early after falling behind by 14 to the Aggies (5-6, SBC 3-4).
Sophomore quarterback Mason Petrino struggled early, throwing an interception on the opening drive of the game. New Mexico State followed with a quick six play drive ending in an early touchdown for the Aggies.
This led to the debut of true freshman quarterback Colton Richardson for the Vandals. The first possession for the Richardson-led Vandals ended in a fumble by senior wide receiver Alfonso Onunwor.
The Aggies answered again with a five-play touchdown drive to take a 14-0 lead with a little over eight minutes left in the first quarter.
The Vandals came to life towards the end of the first half with the defense forcing an Aggie fumble to give Idaho possession in New Mexico State territory. The three-play drive ended in a 25-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver David Ungerer.
At halftime, New Mexico State led with the score being 14-7.
Idaho’s defense came out strong in the second half, holding the Aggies to two early punts in the second half. On Idaho’s second drive of the third quarter ended in a 34-yard field goal by freshman kicker Cade Coffey to bring the game to 14-10.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter the Aggies went on a 11-play drive resulting in a 24-yard field goal to give New Mexico State a seven-point lead.
With less than seven minutes left in the ball game, senior defensive back Armond Hawkins came up with a big red zone interception to give possession back to the Vandals. Idaho got within the Aggies’ 30-yard line before a big fourth down play. But Idaho did not get far with the advantage. Richardson was later sacked by the Aggie defense leading into a turnover on downs.
Richardson was sacked 11 times throughout the ballgame.
The new Idaho quarterback finished the game 18-33 for 167 yards passing adding one touchdown, and a last play interception. Ungerer finished the days with six catches for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Idaho’s running game could not get going with junior running back Isaiah Saunders and senior running back Aaron Duckworth combining only for 57 rushing yards. Idaho finished with 215 total yards, and New Mexico State finished with 403.
On the defensive side, junior linebacker Tony Lashley lead the defense with 16 total tackles. The defense finished with 92 tackles on the day forcing an interception and a fumble in the process while holding the Aggies to only three points in the second half.
“Our defense played their hearts out,” Idaho head coach Paul Petrino said in a news release. “It’s a shame for those defensive guys because I thought they played their hearts out and played really well. There were some guys on offense who competed hard, but overall as a group we’re not playing well enough.”
Idaho will play its final game of the season at Georgia State 2 p.m. Dec. 2 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Chris Deremer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org