MOSCOW, Idaho – The faint sound of boos began early in the third quarter, just a small segment of University of Idaho fans voicing their frustration over the Vandals’ offensive futility.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around Saturday, the jeering was unmistakable – from every corner of the Kibbie Dome.
On what was supposed to be a festive homecoming afternoon, the Vandals absorbed perhaps their most disheartening loss of the season, falling to Louisiana Tech 24-11 with an announced crowd of 15,309 on hand for the WAC contest.
Idaho (1-5, 0-2) has dropped four consecutive games, and it hasn’t mustered an offensive touchdown in regulation since early in the fourth quarter against Fresno State on Sept. 24.
The TD drought spans nearly nine quarters and comes at an unfortunate time. Just as the funk set in, the UI defense has put together back-to-back gems against Virginia and the Bulldogs (2-4,1-1).
“I put a lot of the blame on myself,” quarterback Brian Reader said. “I need to play better. The team needs to play better. The defense (did) a great job today. When they make stops, we need to put points on the board.”
Reader continued his recent slide with a 19-of-47 passing performance that included three interceptions. The first pick was cradled by LTU linebacker Jay Dudley, who took off for a 53-yard touchdown return to put the Bulldogs up 10-2.
The Vandals closed to within five points late in the second quarter. But they were burned by three turnovers in the second half and never drove inside the Bulldogs’ 45 after halftime.
Reader admitted his confidence has dipped “lower and lower and lower,” and Akey said he contemplated Saturday making a switch to backup Taylor Davis.
“Those are things that cross my mind at times,” Akey said. “Those are things that we take a look at. But I also know that if you’re that close, that’s kind of a fine line there, if you understand what I am saying.”
Later he said, “But at any point in time, is (a change) a possibility? Yes. Is that one that I’m going to be quick to pull the trigger on? You obviously haven’t seen it happen it, no.
“But Brian is our starting quarterback and I believe we’ll make things click.”
Saturday, the Vandals managed a safety in the second quarter and an 81-yard punt return from Justin Veltung.
Still, the defense held Louisiana Tech in check for much of the game. In the third quarter the Bulldogs scratched out touchdown drives of 53 and 40 yards, the first coming after a Reader interception gave them prime field position.
LTU true freshman QB Nick Isham, who turned 18 on Friday, never settled into a groove. But tailback Hunter Lee – a true freshman who walked on this fall – rang up 134 yards on the ground on 28 carries.
Idaho receiver Marcel Posey was knocked unconscious after running into the wall behind the east end zone on a failed two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter. Posey was taken off the field in a stretcher and moved to Gritman Medical Center. He was able to move his arms and legs before leaving, Akey said. “It looks very positive right now.” … Defensive tackle Michael Cosgrove (groin) didn’t play but should be able to go next week, Akey said. … Tailback Ryan Bass (internal injury) suited up but did not play for the third straight week. … The last time Idaho scored 11 points in a game was in 1933 versus College of Idaho.