A tough road game got the best of the Idaho football team Saturday, falling 37-19 to the Appalachian State Mountaineers in North Carolina.
“I think most of our team played their tails off and played really hard,” Idaho head coach Paul Petrino said. “We just made a couple mistakes and you can’t do that when you’re playing that good of a team.”
The Mountaineers struck first on a 28-yard field goal.
After an Idaho punt, Appalachian State marched down to the Idaho 3-yard line. Quarterback Taylor Lamb fooled the Vandal defense with a read option and strolled into the end zone untouched.
Idaho (4-4, 2-2) scored early in the second quarter on a 33-yard field goal courtesy of senior kicker Austin Rehkow.
The teams exchanged punts and Rehkow booted another field goal from 46 yards to put Idaho within four points.
At the end of the first half, Appalachian State led the Vandals 10-6.
To start the third quarter, Lamb threw three passes totaling 59 yards that led to a 24-yard field goal.
Junior quarterback Matt Linehan threw an interception on his first throw of the next drive. Mountaineer cornerback Clifton Duck caught Linehan’s pass in stride and took it 44 yards to the end zone. The pick-six put Appalachian State up 20-6.
The teams exchanged field goals. The Mountaineers remained ahead 23-9 at the end of the third quarter.
Idaho’s first drive of the final quarter ended in another turnover. Linehan intercepted again, this time by defensive back Josh Thomas. Thomas ran the ball back 26 yards to the Idaho 29-yard line.
A pass interference call on junior safety Desmond Banks gave the Appalachian State offense 15 yards on what would have been an incomplete pass. One play later, running back Jalin Moore found the end zone on a five-yard run.
Down by 21, the Vandals tried to move downfield quickly. Duck earned his second interception of the day when Linehan tried to air a pass to senior wide receiver Jordan Frysinger. Duck won the jump ball and came crashing to the ground on Appalachian State’s 11-yard line.
Idaho’s defense prevented the Mountaineers from capitalizing on the turnover.
Lamb attempted to tuck and run but the defense punched the ball out.
Sophomore linebacker Ed Hall tracked down the loose ball and gave Idaho excellent field position.
Appalachian State contained Linehan and the running game. The Vandals were forced to kick a field goal.
Rehkow’s 32-yard attempt sailed through the uprights, making the score 30-12.
With the score in their favor, the Mountaineers sent out backup quarterback J.P. Caruso. He found receiver Dante Jones in the end-zone for an 18-yard touchdown.
The Vandal offense put together a 15 play, 87-yard drive that ended in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Linehan to senior tight end Trent Cowan.
“It wasn’t like all of a sudden you felt like they just took the game over,” Petrino said. “We just made a couple mistakes and that’s something we have got to learn from.”
Linehan finished the game with 294 yards and completed 26 of his 41 passes. Cowan led in receiving yards with 118 on 10 catches. Senior cornerback Jayshawn Jordan had the most solo tackles of either team with seven.
Because of his near-perfect game, Rehkow now leads the Sun Belt in total points with 72 and field goals per game with 2.25. He ranks 11th nationally in field goal percentage at 0.9.
The win over Idaho puts the Mountaineers in second place in the Sun Belt behind Troy.
The Vandals will take on Louisiana-Lafayette 2 p.m. Nov. 5 in Louisiana.
Brandon Hill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill