Both offenses couldn’t be stopped for most of the game. But Idaho’s defense made the most important stand on Wofford’s last offensive drive, which sealed the 41-38 win for the Vandals Saturday at the Kibbie Dome.
On 4th and 12, Wofford quarterback Evan Jacks’ pass fell incomplete and the Idaho offense took over with 1:52 left in the game.
“It was awesome,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said of the locker room after the win. “It was just a joy. Those guys work hard and we’ve all worked hard. They deserve it and I’m just happy for them.”
The win broke a six-game losing streak dating back to last season when the Vandals beat New Mexico State Oct. 18 at the Kibbie Dome.
The Vandals (1-2) will open Sun Belt Conference play when they face Georgia Southern at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Kibbie Dome.
Idaho racked up 532 yards of offense, including 198 rushing yards.
Senior running back Elijhaa Penny picked up the most rushing yards with 98 and sophomore running back Aaron Duckworth scored three touchdowns.
“My offensive line did really good this game,” Duckworth said. “They created a lot of holes for us.”
Sophomore quarterback Matt Linehan completed 25 out of 34 passes for 334 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He also rushed for 50 yards.
Senior wide receiver Dezmon Epps and junior tight end Trent Cowan had over 100 receiving yards each. Epps hauled in 10 catches for 139 yards and Cowan caught seven passes for 107 yards and one touchdown.
Cowan had nine catches in Thursday’s practice, and when Petrino said he called Cowan to ask if he knew that, Cowan said he didn’t know. Petrino told him he was going to have a great game.
“He’s been working his butt off all offseason and to finally get that gratification and all that hard work paying off, you kind of saw it today,” Linehan said of Cowan. “He’s put in a lot of work and when Deon (Watson) got hurt last week he knew he was going to have a heavy workload this game.”
Cowan said Idaho spotted a weakness in the Wofford secondary on film.
“Sometimes their safety didn’t get over and we definitely, coming into the game we wanted to exploit that and it was open and we hit it and it worked.”
Idaho got off to a fast start, which wasn’t the case in the first two games.
Redshirt junior safety Russell Siavii recovered a fumble and ran it 10 yards for a touchdown to put the Vandals up 7-0 with 11:15 left in the first quarter. Later in the quarter, Linehan connected with Cowan for a seven-yard touchdown to increase Idaho’s lead to 14-3.
Wofford’s Nick Colvin put the Terriers back in the game after he took a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to cut the Vandal lead to 17-10 with 11:20 left in the second quarter.
Idaho led 27-17 at halftime but Wofford junior running back Lorenzo Long scored on a nine-yard touchdown run and a 51-yard run as the Terriers took a 31-27 lead in the third quarter.
Duckworth answered with an eight-yard rushing touchdown with 1:50 left in the third quarter, giving the Vandals the lead back, 34-31.
The Terriers scored a touchdown about two minutes later giving them a 38-34 lead but Duckworth found the end zone again with a 10-yard run and the Vandals captured a 41-38 lead with 11:19 left in the fourth quarter.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @CabezaGarrett
Photo by: Tess Fox