Dominique Blackman was dynamite in his debut at quarterback, receiver Jahrie Level had a monster game and the Idaho defense stiffened at key times, but all this wasn't enough. The Vandals absorbed a 21-13 loss at Bowling Green on Saturday evening to drop to 0-2, their worst start since Dennis Erickson's return year in 2006.
We've got the details after the jump.
The Vandals' undoing Saturday? Ten penalties, four sacks and two second-half turnovers.
The last turnover, a fumble from Level, came with the Vandals down by eight with 3:31 left in the game. Idaho had scored its first touchdown of the season on the previous possession -- after cornerback Solomon Dixon intercepted Bowling Green QB Matt Schilz -- but the Vandals came up empty or had to settle for field goals too often against the Falcons.
Blackman was 30 of 37 passing for 352 yards in his first FBS start after being suspended last week. The 352 yards were the most by a Vandal quarterback since Nate Enderle in 2010.
Level led all receivers with 10 receptions for 119 yards, while senior Mike Scott had six catches for 71 yards. The passing game clicked for much of the game, but penalties killed multiple drives and the Vandals had only 6 net rushing yards.
In their third matchup in four years, UI and Bowling Green were almost even in total yardage (373 for BG, 358 for Idaho) and first downs (18-17 in BG's favor). The Vandals, though, missed a field goal to start the second half after a 6-minute, 26-second drive -- and then Blackman threw a tipped-ball interception on their next drive.
Idaho's defense racked up three sacks -- after having none last week vs. Eastern Washington -- four breakups and three QB hurries. But it also gave up three plays of at least 29 yards.
Next week Idaho plays at No. 3 LSU, which steamrolled Washington 41-3. The Vandals have not been 0-3 since 2005.
Here's more on Saturday's loss from the Idaho media relations department:
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Sacks and penalties were more than the University of Idaho Vandals could overcome Saturday night and the result was a 21-13 loss at Bowling Green State in a game that, despite not winning, the Vandals showed vast improvement.
“We fought and we played hard,” head coach Robb Akey said. “We need to fight and play hard and win.”
Saturday’s game was the debut of highly touted quarterback Dominique Blackman. His effort was one of the best in school history with 30 completions in 37 passes for a total of 352 yards and one touchdown. The flaws? An interception and being caught in a collapsing pocket for four sacks along with 10 penalties for 83 yards.
“Anything that happened is my fault,” said Blackman, who completed his first Division I touchdown in the fourth quarter when he found a leaping Marquan Major with a 16-yard pass in the end zone. “I shoulder everything.”
Blackman’s teammates, however, would disagree.
“We have to make it click,” senior cornerback Aaron Grymes said. “We have to put it all together.”
The defense mounted a ferocious effort that led to three sacks, four breakups and three quarterback hurries. Trouble was another shifty quarterback who managed to come up with the big plays in the nick of time.
“We need to play a little bit cleaner; we need to protect our quarterback,” said Akey, noting a more robust running game also is needed.
After trading punts on the first two possessions, Bowling Green scored on Anthon Samuel’s four-yard run with 6:12 left in the first half. The drive, which started at the BGSU 33, was aided by a 42-yard hookup between quarterback Matt Schilz to Shaun Joplin to take the Falcons to the Idaho 25.
The first quarter ended with Bowling Green holding the 7-0 lead as the Vandals struggled with penalties in the first 15 minutes. Blackman was five-of-six for 46 yards in the opening period but drives fizzled with four penalties for 33 yards.
Idaho’s first score came on a 20-yard Trey Farquhar field goal with 1:48 left in the half. Farquhar’s kick capped an 11-play, 77-yard drive that featured sharp passes by Blackman (six of the 11 plays) and strong bursts from running back Ryan Bass. It stalled, however, when Blackman was sacked on second down-and-four and the ensuing completion was two yards short of the goal line.
Then the defense, which had flirted with one big play after another, forced a turnover when Benson Mayowa stripped the ball from Schilz and Maxx Forde covered it at the Bowling Green 32. Blackman first went to Justin Veltung for a 20-yard pickup to the BGSU 12. A short run by Bass moved the ball to the 10 before a pass to Bass went to the five. On third down, Bass was hit as the ball arrived from Blackman and it popped free to set up Farquhar’s second field goal – a 22-yarder with 15 seconds left in the half for a 7-6 halftime score.
The Vandals came up empty on their first drive of the second half. This time Farquhar’s field goal attempt from 36 yards was wide left with 8:28 left in the third. Veltung, in the end zone, was sandwiched between two BGSU defenders and came up empty on the third-down play.
Third-down plays were good to the Falcons on the ensuing drive and, after converting on third down with gains of 37, 12 and 29, they led 14-6 with 3:46 left in the third. The 29-yarder was the scoring run by Samuel, who found some room up the middle.
It became 21-6 slightly more than one minute later after Josh Pettus intercepted Blackman at the Idaho 21. Schilz hooked up with Je`Ron Stokes to score from 15 yards out with 2:31 to go in the third.
Blackman’s first Division I touchdown pass – and the Vandals’ first of 2012, was a 16-yard to a leaping Major. The catch, with Farquhar’s PAT kick, pulled the Vandals to within 21-13 with 6:22 to play.