MOSCOW, Idaho – It might not have had the stature of last year’s Humanitarian Bowl win, but Idaho’s season-ending victory on Saturday mimicked the late-game drama and excitement.
Idaho blocked a field goal at the end of regulation and seniors Nathan Enderle and Eric Greenwood connected for a 23-yard touchdown play in overtime to give the Vandals a 26-23 victory over San Jose State in front of an announced crowd of 8,011 at the Kibbie Dome.
Idaho (6-7, 3-5 WAC) is not eligible for a bowl game this season, but that didn’t stop head coach Robb Akey from making a quip about the overtime game.
“Since we didn’t get the bowl invite, we just kinda set it up so we could extend our season a little bit more,” Akey said. “That is why we ended up going to the overtime. It is not a bowl, but it was a chance to play a little bit more.”
Junior defensive back Thaad Thompson gave Idaho that chance when he blocked the 26-yard attempt by San Jose State kicker Harrison Waid as time expired in the fourth quarter.
“I heard the fans roar, and I was like, ‘Oh, thank goodness,’ ” Enderle said about the blocked kick. “We haven’t won a senior game around here in so long. It was emotional before the game knowing this was our last game. To lose it like that – it would have eaten me up for the rest of my life.”
Idaho’s offense struggled against the San Jose State defense in the first half, and the Vandals trailed 7-3 at halftime. It was the first time this season Spartans (1-12, 0-7) led a WAC opponent at the break.
But missed opportunities by the Spartans kept the Vandals in the game.
Idaho intercepted San Jose State quarterback Jordan La Secla twice inside the 10-yard line, including one in the end zone with the Spartans at the 1-yard-line.
The Spartans scored on their first possession after halftime on a 13-yard run by Brandon Rutley, but Waid missed the extra point.
“We continued to play and we did what we needed to do to win,” Akey said.
Idaho scored its first touchdown late in the third quarter on a 1-yard plunge by Troy Vital. The Vandals didn’t take their first lead until the first play of the fourth quarter, when Justin Veltung took a handoff to the outside and found a hole for 37-yard TD run.
The Vandals extended the lead to 20-13 on a Trey Farquhar 32-yard field goal, but SJSU countered with a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive to tie the game.
The Spartans forced Idaho to punt with 4 minutes, 11 seconds remaining to set up what appeared to be the winning drive.
“You couldn’t ask for a more textbook, perfect ending,” San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre said. “(A field goal) for an extra point, basically, and we just kicked the sucker low and it gets blocked.”
San Jose State had the first possession in overtime and Waid connected on a 39-yard field goal. Idaho ran on its first two plays of OT before Enderle hit Greenwood on a post route to give Idaho its first Senior Day win since 2003.
Greenwood caught four passes for 86 yards. Enderle threw for 250 yards in the game and ended his Idaho career with more than 10,000 passing yards.
“To finish the way we did, that’s a perfect way to go out in my Vandal career,” Enderle said. “It was perfect.”