MOSCOW, Idaho – They congregated around midfield, unwilling to budge. Boise State had yet to enter the field before kickoff, but Idaho players weren’t about to see a repeat of 2008, when their jumbo-sized logo was trounced on with a BSU sledgehammer.
Mission accomplished on that front for the Vandals – after words were exchanged and a few skirmishes were averted.
But then the game started, and once again Idaho looked helpless against its fiercest rival.
Fourth-ranked Boise State pounced on the Vandals with a punt return for a score 41 seconds into the game and reeled off the first six touchdowns Friday night in a 52-14 smothering of Idaho.
With 16,453 on hand at a sold-out and rocking Kibbie Dome, the Broncos (9-0, 5-0 in the WAC) won for the 12th consecutive time over the Vandals in the last Governor’s Cup until at least 2013.
BSU is moving on to the Mountain West next season, and the Vandals (4-6, 1-4) are left to ruminate on another mistake-marred performance.
“I hate it. I hate it,” Idaho coach Robb Akey said of the rivalry being put on hold after the lopsided setback. “I don’t like to lose any games at all. I’m disappointed it wasn’t a hell of a football game. Obviously, I’m disappointed that we didn’t win the thing.”
“They’re a better football team than we are right now,” he added. “I can’t mask that.”
After Boise State’s Chris Potter rumbled 76 yards on a punt return in the first minute, Idaho’s next three possessions went like this: interception, interception, blocked punt. The turnovers and blunders on special teams helped Boise State snatch a 28-0 lead with 56 seconds left in the first quarter.
“We didn’t do our job. It’s as simple as that – in all three phases of the game,” Vandals safety Shiloh Keo said. “You can’t play like that, not against the No. 4 team in the nation.”
Senior quarterback Nate Enderle was sacked three times and went 16 of 34 for just 118 yards before being pulled early in the fourth quarter with BSU leading 52-7.
The Vandals’ longest gains of the night against the Broncos’ sweltering first-team defense came on broken plays and two fake punts. Twice on fourth down, Kama Bailey took direct snaps and dashed for first downs.
But on the two occasions in the first half that Idaho found itself in BSU territory, its drives flamed out.
The first failed scoring attempt came after a botched Bronco onsides kick and personal foul. Idaho started at BSU’s 29, but on the second play of the drive Enderle was intercepted by Aaron Tevis, who jumped in front of a pass intended for Maurice Shaw.
Later, after Bailey’s 39-yard fake punt jaunt, the Vandals came within 8 yards of the end zone. Yet the promising drive ended with four straight incompletions – including on fourth-and-goal at the 13 – that gave BSU the ball.
“They had field position a couple of times early where we really stepped up,” Broncos coach Chris Petersen said. “To win championships, you have to have great defense. I know people are here to see offense, but we’ve got to get it done with our defense, too.”
After Boise State’s initial outburst, the biggest theatrics came off the field.
A Vandal fan was wrestled to the ground by security guards after apparently trying to steal the Boise State flag. The crowd – filled with people wearing black T-shirts that read “Nasty and Inebriated,” piggybacking off BSU President Bob Kustra’s comments – was also warned after a fan threw trash onto the field and another blew a whistle through much of the first quarter.
Yet aside from the pregame gathering at midfield, the play on the field was fairly clean.
“I didn’t really see much,” BSU quarterback Kellen Moore said. “You know, it’s probably what’s going to happen in this game. It’s happened in the past. There’s just a little talk.”
Normally division championships are celebrated with champagne showers in the locker room. The Spokane Indians settled for cheering and high fives on a crowded bus.
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