MOSCOW, Idaho – Surviving a first-half test when it fell behind, settling into its assignments and physically wearing down Western New Mexico as the game wore on allowed Idaho to finish with a flourish and collect its first win, 56-10 on Saturday in the Kibbie Dome.
On back-to-back fourth-quarter series, the Vandals stunned the Mustangs first with a blocked field-goal attempt returned for a touchdown then a 65-yard punt return for a score.
It was the payoff for disciplined, determined play earlier, even when the Mustangs grabbed a 10-7 second-quarter lead.
“Confidence, first of all. A belief that hard work actually pays off,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said of the win.
After getting two field-goal attempts blocked and returned for touchdowns a week ago against Fresno State, the Vandals were primed to pass that misery on. When a Mustangs drive stalled at the Idaho 21 and Ignacio Correa launched a 38-yard field-goal try, Idaho’s Kaden Elliss broke through up the middle and got a hand on the ball. He and Dorian Clark chased it down before Clark corralled it and returned it 47 yards for the score. It put Idaho up 42-10.
The Mustangs went three-and-out when Charles Akanno sacked quarterback Blayne Armstrong. WNM punted, and David Ungerer took the kick in stride and started up the middle. He cut left to avoid a tackle and high-stepped into the end zone.
Jack Bamis added a final touchdown for the Vandals on a 7-yard tailback sweep in the closing minute of the game. The Mustangs all but conceded the play.
Ungerer, a senior, had a career day. He was Idaho’s leading receiver with nine catches for 118 yards and a touchdown, and his 235 all-purpose yards were the 13th best in Idaho’s history.
“Dave really did a good job on offense,” Petrino said. “He did a great job on that punt return. He needed to. He’s one of our seniors.”
Following a subpar performance against Fresno State in a 79-13 shellacking in Idaho’s opening game, Ungerer said he was not surprised he didn’t get tighter coverage from the Mustangs.
“I’m not surprised at all because of last week. I’d play off me, too,” Ungerer said.
WNM came ready to play in the first half. DeAndre Williams rushed for 52 yards on seven carries.
“We stayed with our plan and kept our heads up,” Hall said of the defense. “I believe we physically wore them down. We just got after it.”
Elliss, in addition to blocking the kick, provided smothering pressure all game against Armstrong.
“Kaden was a beast,” Petrino said. “Their quarterback, for the pressure he was under, did some good things.”
Idaho’s two-quarterback system worked well. Colton Richardson completed 9 of 13 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
Mason Petrino, who was 12-of-13 passing for 151 yards, broke three tackles to score from 10 yards out for Idaho’s first touchdown, capping a seven-play, 62-yard drive on the game’s first series.
Neither quarterback threw an interception.
Richardson’s touchdowns were impressive. On the first one, in the closing minute of the first half, he launched a 25-yard strike to Jeff Cotton in the corner of the end zone. Cotton took the ball off the hands of a Mustangs defender to put the Vandals up, 21-10.
In the fourth quarter, on third-and-goal at the 4-yard line, Richardson started right to avoid a rush, spun out of a tackle attempt from linebacker CJ Aurjo, looked up to find Ungerer had worked free on the left side of the end zone and rifled a ball to him for a 35-10 lead.
“As soon as Colton spun away from that tackle, I knew it was going to come to me,” Ungerer said.
After Idaho opened the scoring with Petrino’s touchdown, UNM came right back with an 82-yard drive. Armstrong kept the drive alive twice.
On third-and-10 at his 47-yard line, he ran for a first down. Four plays later, under immense pressure from Elliss, he got off an end-over-end pass to tight end Isaac Crichton that gained 12 yards. The drive ended with a 34-yard field goal by Correa.
The Mustangs took their only lead in the second quarter when Armstrong found Elijah Jones and threaded a pass between Idaho’s cornerback Clark and middle linebacker Christian Elliss for a 6-yard touchdown.
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