Down five with six minutes left, Idaho’s defense needed a stop — but Ohio freshman running back A.J. Oullette carried the ball six times and rushed for 38 yards, capping the drive off with a touchdown to give his team a 12-point cushion and the eventual 36-24 win.
“We just have to get it done,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “But we’re right there and we’re improving and we’re growing. We’re coming closer together, we’re fighting harder for each other, so I was proud of that.”
With the loss, Idaho falls to 0-3. The Vandals host South Alabama next week for its first Sun Belt Conference home game. Idaho has now lost its last 17 road games.
Oullette finished with 130 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. The Vandal defense has allowed 623 rushing yards in its first three games. The defense also continued to allow big plays. Ohio gashed the Vandals for eight plays that gained 25 or more yards.
The Vandal offense had drives of 15-plays and 17-plays that resulted in no points.
“We can’t have that throughout the course of the game,” Petrino said. “I think that hurt us … there were times in the first half where we drove the ball well, we just didn’t come away with points.”
At the end of the first half, Petrino rolled the dice. Instead of kicking a field goal, the offense failed to convert a fourth and goal.
“I would do it again in a second,” said Petrino of the play call. “I thought, you have a half-inch to get, you should go get it. We needed to get it and we needed to block it a little better and the runner needed to get it no matter what but we didn’t get it.”
Idaho redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Linehan finished 33 of 55 for 353 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions — two of the interceptions occurred in the fourth quarter.
Linehan starts his career with three straight games in which he eclipses 300 passing yards.
“There’s no reason to hang your head when you fight as hard as you can,” Petrino said. “We made some execution mistakes but when you give it all you have and you give it effort and you fight, there’s no reason to hang your heads. We need to keep our heads up, and we need to shower and get out of here and go win next week.”