Next week, Idaho linebacker JoJo Dickson was set for a return to Hawaii, his homestate, to play the Warriors for the final time in his career. But that trip most likely won't happen, and Dickson definitely won't play after he broke his left leg during a frightful sequence at the Kibbie Dome.
You can read about Dickson's injury -- and the Vandals' 37-14 win over New Mexico State -- after the link.
By Josh Wright
MOSCOW, Idaho – In the moment, with the crowd stone silent and an ambulance on the Kibbie Dome turf, the only thing JoJo Dickson’s teammates could think to do was lash out.
Dickson, a senior linebacker for Idaho, was on his back, clutching his fractured left leg. He had been sideswiped from behind by New Mexico State’s Kenny Turner at the end of a third-quarter run – a hit the Vandals apparently perceived as cheap.
Turner was flagged for a personal foul, but the damage had been done: Dickson was carted off the field and taken to Moscow’s Gritman Medical Center for surgery before the Vandals wrapped up their 37-14 win on Saturday.
The gruesome injury set off a stream of verbal outbursts from UI defenders directed toward the NMSU sideline. And it made for a sobering postgame scene.
“It’s really hard to swallow,” said Robert Siavii, a fellow linebacker and Dickson’s roommate. “He’s like my older brother. I’ve lived with him for two years. To see him out of the field really hurts me and just gave me an extra push to be even more strong.”
Vandal coach Robb Akey tried to calm his defense after what had already turned into a chippy second half. But the raw emotions were hard to suppress.
“I saw some rage,” Akey said. “I saw a lot of hurt.”
There were no altercations after the injury. And following the game, Turner approached Akey at midfield and asked him to relay a message to Dickson.
“I just wanted to tell (Dickson) I’m sorry,” Turner told the coach. “Honest, I was just playing football.”
The Vandals (4-3) collected their first WAC win of the season before entering a daunting string of three games against the upper tier of the conference. Next week they play at Hawaii, which is 4-0 in WAC play.
With a homecoming crowd of 13,812 on hand, Idaho pounced on the Aggies with three consecutive touchdown drives and eventually led 31-0 late in the second quarter. The onslaught started with a seven-play series capped by 11-yard strike from Nate Enderle to Preston Davis.
Enderle was dynamite for much of the first half. He accounted for three TD passes – one on a splendid over-the-shoulder grab by Maurice Shaw -- and 256 yards before halftime.
But the senior QB lost his touch after that, and the Vandal offense quickly lost its rhythm. UI didn’t muster a first down on four of its five possessions to start the second half and had just 56 yards in the final two quarters.
The usually accurate Enderle ended up just 5-of-15 passing after halftime before being replaced by Brian Reader.
“I think we started real fast, real physical,” said Shaw, who returned from a one-game suspension. “We came out how we should every week. We just didn’t finish the game.”
The contest was marred by 21 combined penalties – 12 on NMSU. The Aggies (1-6, 0-3) had several big gains and one touchdown wiped away by flags.
NMSU QB Matt Christian completed only 8 of 29 passes. But he led two touchdown drives in the final seconds of each half.
NOTES – Idaho offensive guard Tevita Halaholo sustained an undisclosed injury that Akey said shouldn’t be serious. In addition to Dickson, backup linebacker John McKinley suffered a broken leg.