Football: Pre-holiday Letdown

Idaho football suffered a 13-7 loss in its last home game of the 2017 regular season Saturday in the Kibbie Dome against Coastal Carolina. With the loss, the Vandals are eliminated from bowl contention.

Senior Day proved less than ideal for the 15 graduating Vandals, eight of whom started the game. The Chanticleers marched into Moscow and further limited an already finite Idaho (3-7, Sun Belt 2-4) offense which was missing its senior quarterback Matt Linehan.

“It’s a shame. I think a lot of people played their hearts out and did a lot of good things,” Idaho Head Coach Paul Petrino said in a news release. “But in football you need 11 guys to do it on every play and we just didn’t.”

Sophomore Mason Petrino got the nod at quarterback for Idaho, and his first drive as a starter produced the best Vandal possession of the day.

Idaho was devoid of negative plays on its first drive, which consisted of nine snaps and lasted just about three and a half minutes. The Vandals marched down the field, and Petrino showed no signs of expected jitters. After Petrino connected with senior wide receiver Alfonso Onunwor for an 18-yard touchdown, Idaho’s offense appeared problematic for the Chanticleers.

In its first three drives, Coastal Carolina (2-9, Sun Belt 1-6) only mustered 27 total yards. The first Chant drive was stopped short after senior defensive tackle Arie Anderson made a stop in the backfield.

Junior defensive lineman DJ Henderson and junior linebacker Ed Hall combined for a sack on Coastal quarterback Kilton Anderson to halt the second possession.

The Chants found their footing with a combination of rollout throws and option runs beginning in the second quarter. Coastal knotted it up, 7-7, after running back Alex Jones found a hole in the defense and proceeded with a 42-yard touchdown jaunt.

The Chanticleers held the Vandals on the next drive, and progressed to the Idaho 35 on their ensuing possession.

Coastal Carolina’s kicker Evan Rabon blasted a 52-yarder to give the Chants a 10-7 lead. Coastal nearly scored again as time expired in the first half. An errant Petrino throw dropped into the hands of Coastal cornerback Fitz Wattley, who nearly reached the end zone.

After Idaho’s defense forced a Coastal three and out to start the third quarter, Petrino connected with junior wide receiver, and former Pullman High School teammate David Ungerer for a 29-yard strike.

The drive stalled in the red zone after Petrino was sacked by Coastal defensive tackle C.J. Brewer. Freshman kicker Cade Coffey had the chance to tie it at 10 with a 29-yard field goal attempt, but his high-boot slammed against the right-side of the uprights.

With just over six minutes remaining in the third, junior linebacker Kaden Elliss sacked Anderson, stripped the ball and picked up with intentions of scoring. The referees blew the play dead, but upon further review, it was ruled as a fumble, recovered by Idaho. If the play had not been blown dead, Elliss certainly would have scored.

Idaho’s defense again came up clutch, limiting the Chants to another field goal, which Rabon hit from 34-yards out. However, the Vandal offense had been at standstill since the first quarter and was unable to get past the 50-yard line in the fourth quarter.

Rabon emulated Coffey with just over five minutes left in the game, clanking a 48-yard field goal attempt off the right upright. Idaho gained just one yard in the ensuing drive.

The Chants again paraded down the field, but instead of attempting a 44-yard field goal, Coastal went for it on fourth down on a quarterback run. Anderson was tackled short, giving the Vandals one more opportunity with under a minute remaining.

Coastal Carolina Interim Head Coach Jamey Chadwell said in a news release the decision to go for the touchdown was made to give the team more hope at a secure win.

“There at the end we had the decision of whether to kick it or not and my thought process was ‘the only way I thought they could ever score on us was if they blocked a field goal.’ That was my only way i thought they were going to do it.”

With no timeouts left and about 10 seconds on the clock, Petrino dumped a ball over the middle to Ungerer, who was stopped short of first down, ending the game.

Idaho’s defense played well enough to win, recording seven tackles for loss and limiting Coastal to 275 total yards.

The Vandal offense, however, struggled to produce substantial drives, ending with 277 total yards and only managing to reach Coastal’s red zone twice. Idaho’s drives also were hindered by penalties, of which they committed eight.

In his first collegiate start at quarterback, Petrino completed 18 of 26 passes for 177 yards, a touchdown and a pick. Senior running back Aaron Duckworth carried 18 times for 70 yards. Onunwor and Ungerer made up the bulk of receptions, recording seven for 58 yards and a touchdown and five for 62 yards, respectively.

Elliss finished with 10 tackles, three for loss, and Coastal linebacker Shane Johnson also recorded 10 stops.

A game in which Coastal traveled further than ever before to compete in, the Chanticleers did just enough to win. James created the majority of the offense, rushing for 81 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

The Vandals travel to the Aggies of New Mexico State 1 p.m. Saurday in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Colton Clark can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @coltonclark95


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