MOSCOW, Idaho – When Robb Akey took over the Idaho football program four years ago, this must have been what he envisioned – the Kibbie Dome pulsating for a nationally televised game, and the Vandals’ defense flying around with as much energy as he exerts on the sideline.
Saturday against UNLV, Idaho’s plan came together seamlessly from the start. It smothered the Rebels in a dominant first half and rolled to a 30-7 triumph in front of Dad’s Weekend crowd of 15,390.
The Vandals (2-1) won their third straight against Mountain West competition in the last two years to head into a three-game road trip with a needed shot of momentum.
Idaho opened the ESPNU-televised game with a crisp 14-play touchdown drive before the defense went to work on one of its finest performances in years. The Rebels (0-3) crossed midfield just once in the first half, mustered 187 yards, and didn’t score until the 1:19 mark of the fourth quarter against UI second- and third-stringers.
“I liked the way the defense played tonight,” coach Robb Akey said. “I really felt bad that we lost the shutout in that last play.”
Idaho didn’t punt until the fourth quarter. Yet it was far from an efficient outing by the UI offense.
The Vandals squandered plum field position repeatedly after rampaging to a 24-0 lead and came away with no points on consecutive drives that reached inside the Rebels’ 5-yard line.
Nate Enderle racked up 210 passing yards – often against broken coverage – before getting pulled early in the fourth quarter. Deonte Jackson punctuated two first-half drives with 1-yard TD plunges.
The Vandals came in having given up the most sacks (11) in the FBS ranks through two games. But against UNLV, which hadn’t registered a sack before, the UI offensive line protected Enderle better. The senior was sacked twice, and the first came after tailback Princeton McCarty was flattened in pass protection by 315-pound Isaako Aatiu.