Vandals lose on last-second field goal
Rams end 12-game losing streak
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Twice Saturday afternoon, the Idaho football team constructed double-digit leads and appeared ready to separate from Colorado State for good.
On both occasions, mistakes and poor execution doomed the Vandals.
Colorado State kicker Ben DeLine, who had missed an extra point minutes before, connected on a 35-yard field goal as time expired to give the Rams a 36-34 victory – their first win since September of last year.
CSU (1-3) snapped a 12-game losing streak and, in the process, damaged Idaho’s hopes of a repeat bowl appearance. At 2-2, the Vandals must win at Western Michigan next week to go into their Western Athletic Conference opener with a winning record.
“They played better than we did today, and we need our football team to play better like we’re capable of,” UI coach Robb Akey said. “I believe in this football team. I believe they can be good, and that’s what I told them. That’s what I expect out of them.”
The Rams entered the game with the lowest-scoring offense among Football Bowl Subdivision teams. But behind true freshman quarterback Pete Thomas, they dissected the Idaho defense for the last 35 minutes of the game.
Thomas was 29-of-37 passing for 386 yards and three touchdowns. He completed all five of his passes on the final drive to set up DeLine’s heroics.
“I can’t remember missing an extra point or having one blocked,” DeLine said. “When the defense got us the ball back, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I missed again.”
The Vandals gave CSU a big assist in the final 90 seconds when they were flagged for having 12 men of the field during a first-down play. The penalty pushed the Rams to the 24-yard line – comfortable field-goal range for DeLine.
“We were in the substitute package and didn’t get communicated well enough to guys on the field,” Akey said. “One of the guys that needed to hear it, didn’t hear it and didn’t get himself off the field.”
Idaho QB Nate Enderle, who was 25 of 30 for 346 yards, connected on two big touchdown passes – 37 yards to Maurice Shaw and 59 yards to Justin Veltung – during a wild second half to keep the Rams in chase mode. But CSU answered each time.
With the Rams driving midway through the fourth quarter, Idaho linebacker Homer Mauga batted down a pass attempt from Thomas and then shoved the QB to the ground. The play drew a personal foul penalty and put CSU on the Idaho 11.
On the next play, Thomas found T.J. Borcky for a touchdown with 6:24 left. But Deline missed the extra point to keep Idaho ahead by one point.
The Vandals, though, could only get one first down before their drive fizzled. CSU took over with 2:47 left and drove 66 yards before DeLine’s field goal.
“We didn’t capitalize on the opportunities we had,” Enderle said. “When our defense got stops, our offense didn’t go down and score. And when we didn’t do that, they capitalized on our errors. So we need to fix that.”
CSU, which came in having scored one touchdown in its first three games, had 494 yards of offense and prevailed despite 12 penalties. It wiped away a 13-0 deficit late in the second quarter with two Raymond Carter touchdowns in less than a minute of game time – sandwiched in between an Enderle fumble 30 seconds before the half.
Carter, a transfer from UCLA, finished with 224 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns.
The Vandals had nine different receivers catch passes, led by Preston Davis’ eight receptions. … Running back/slot receiver Kama Bailey went down in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury. He was on the ground for several minutes before walking off the field. … UI defenders had five sacks and now have 14 on the season – one shy of last year’s total. Aaron Lavarias has five in the last two games.