The fake punt didn’t work exactly as Idaho football coach Chris Tormey had envisioned. He wanted a first down. Instead, the Vandals scored a touchdown.
Joel Thomas sped 47 yards for the score, expanding UI’s 43-6 lead to 50-6 early in the third quarter. Idaho eventually destroyed Boise State 64-19 on Saturday. The fake punt undoubtedly will stick in both teams’ memories and find a place in the lore of this intense rivalry.
Running up the score? BSU coach Pokey Allen thought so. Tormey adamantly disagreed.
“We were just hoping to keep a drive alive, eat some more time off the clock and it ends up going 50 yards (actually 47) for a touchdown,” Tormey said. “I was hoping for three yards and a first down. It’s not like we threw it down field.”
Thomas backed up his coach. Thomas, the up-man in punt formation, told Tormey at half that BSU’s punt team was leaving the middle uncovered.
“He said, ‘Well, we shouldn’t be running it. If we do run it, it will be on the first series,’ ” Thomas said.
Idaho didn’t run it on the first series because it quickly drove for a TD. The fake came on UI’s second possession.
“I thought I was playing Idaho, that’s exactly what I thought,” BSU’s Allen said. “What do you expect?”
BSU defensive end Chris Wing disagreed with Allen.
“Smart call,” Wing said. “We weren’t ready for it.”
Tormey was a Vandal defensive end in 1977 when BSU, leading 41-14 with 1:28 left, kicked and recovered an on-side kick. The Broncos kicked a field goal for a 44-14 win.
Tormey was asked if that play ran through his mind before Thomas’ run. He quickly shook his head, “No, that (running up the score) wasn’t our intention.”
Big hairy deal
UI’s Thomas and linebacker Jason Shelt made a bet before the season. If Thomas surpassed 1,000 rushing yards, he earned the right to clip off Shelt’s hair. Shelt, meanwhile, needed 120 tackles to force Thomas to dye his hair red.
Both won. Thomas ran for 273 yards against BSU to give him 1,120 for the year. He turns into a barber on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Shelt’s seven tackles gave him 121 - and will give Thomas a Rodmanesque hairdo.
Idaho was whistled for a handful of celebration penalties after touchdowns, sacks, etc. - a couple on seemingly harmless displays of emotion.
“I disagree with a lot of those calls,” said Tormey, who vowed to review the plays in question. “Football is an emotional game. We make a big play and there wasn’t any taunting that I could see. I didn’t see anybody turn to a BSU player or the BSU bench. I saw guys celebrating with teammates.”
Rivalry with attitude
Idaho quarterback Ryan Fien had been in rivalry games before. He transferred to UI from UCLA, which has an annual battle with USC.
“I’m happy to be part of this,” said Fien, adding that UI-BSU had a higher “magnitude of hatred and hatred between the schools and fans” than UCLA-USC.
Or, as lineman Dan Zeamer put it: “To come into a place where you’re this hated and this loved is an incredible experience.”