Idaho stated its NCAA Division I-AA playoff case on Saturday and its closing argument was probably its most convincing.
Drubbing No. 16-ranked Boise State 33-13 at the Kibbie Dome, Idaho will find out this morning at 9 if it earned one of 10 at-large playoff berths.
No. 25 Idaho, 6-4 and winners of three straight over ranked opponents, upgraded its postseason hopes from flickering to within reason after four quarters of domination of the Broncos as a mostly pro-UI crowd of 16,295 reveled.
UI’s playoff hopes took a turn for the better when Weber State lost to Idaho State later Saturday night.
“I’d love to keep going,” said UI senior quarterback Eric Hisaw, who completed 18 of 23 for 282 yards and three touchdowns.
And if Idaho’s season ended on Saturday? “You can’t go out with a better feeling than beating Boise State’s butt,” senior offensive lineman Jim Mills said. “We pushed them off the ball.”
Idaho’s victory avenged a 27-24 setback to BSU last year, a loss that snapped UI’s series winning streak at 12.
“We can play with anybody, you can write that down,” said UI first-year coach Chris Tormey, his hair ruffled from the obligatory post-game sports drink shower. “We’re a very good team right now.”
UI made BSU (7-4) look very average.
“I’m just amazed we didn’t play better,” said BSU coach Pokey Allen, who saw a five-game winning streak and his team’s playoff chances end. “I know we’re not in. If they can get in with a 6-4 record, they’re magicians.”
Speaking of magicians, BSU quarterback Tony Hilde could have used an escape act. Idaho’s front seven made Hilde look like a human pin cushion, sacking him six times.
Hilde, who still managed to rush for 46 yards, took countless vicious hits, bouncing back to his feet every time until an Avery Slaughter tackle sidelined Hilde with a broken finger on his throwing hand with 8:25 left in the fourth quarter. UI led 26-13 at that point.
If it wasn’t Slaughter hitting Hilde, it was Barry Mitchell (three sacks), Ryan Phillips, Tim Wilson, Jason Shelt or Dave Longoria.
“Everybody had a shot at him,” Phillips said.
“I remember one time I dropped back to find a receiver to cover and I looked back (at Hilde) and he was already down,” Shelt said. “That’s how it was the whole day.”
But only for Hilde. Hisaw had operating time and running back Lavoni Kidd chipped in 85 ground yards.
UI’s pressure whittled into BSU’s playbook and the Broncos rarely showed the endless motion, schemes, misdirection and inventive play-calling that characterized their 1994 offense.
“When you’re trying to scramble to get a first down, it’s kind of hard to throw outlandish things,” Allen shrugged.
UI led 10-3 after a crisp, cleanly played first half.
On Idaho’s second possession, Hisaw, 9 of 10 in the opening half, lobbed a pass up for grabs that Dwight McKinzie wrestled away from BSU defensive back Jason Payne for a 46-yard gain.
“The dude (Payne) had good position,” McKinzie said. “I think he had it for a second.”
From there, Ryan Woolverton hit a 41-yard field goal on the final play of the first quarter and UI led 3-0.
BSU quickly evened the score on Greg Erickson’s 45-yard field goal.
Hisaw then directed UI 81 yards, tossing a 29-yard touchdown pass to Robert Scott, who had slipped behind safety Keith Walk-Green in the end zone.
BSU threatened late in the second quarter, but Hilde, just before being leveled by Shelt, tried to force a pass into the end zone that was picked off by Slaughter.
“We just weren’t doing our jobs,” Broncos’ offensive lineman Martez Benas said.
“A lot of times the line was doing its job, it’s just athletes are going to make plays,” Hilde said. “Their front seven are as good as there is in the country.”
UI’s secondary wasn’t bad either. Hilde was reduced to throwing quick patterns and those were generally defensed well.
UI ended most of the suspense by scoring 10 points on its first two drives of the third quarter.
After BSU closed to 20-10, the Vandals marched 91 yards, capped by Hisaw’s 9-yard flick to Avery Griggs.
Idaho 33, Boise St. 13
Boise St. 0 3 7 3 - 13
Idaho 3 7 10 13 - 33
UI-FG Woolverton 41 BSUFG Erickson 45
UI-Scott 29 pass from Hisaw (Woolverton kick)
UI-FG Woolverton 26
UI-McKinzie 14 pass from Hisaw (Woolverton kick) BSUHilde 2 run (Erickson kick)
UI-Griggs 9 pass from Hisaw (Woolverton kick blocked) BSUFG Erickson 41
UI-Thomas 6 run (Woolverton kick)
BSU UI First downs 14 22 Rushes-yards 35-122 34-143 Passing 191 282 Return Yards 53 17 Comp-Att-Int 17-31-2 18-23-0 Punts 6-223 5-222 Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-1 Penalties-Yards 5-35 4-27 Time of Possession 31:25 28:35
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS RUSHINGBSU, Hilde 16-78, Graven 3-16, Adams, 13-25, Carey 1-3; UI, Kidd 14-89, Griffin 2-20, Thomas 8-11, Clairmont 2-7 PASSINGBSU, Hilde 24-13-1 169, Paljetak 7-4-1 22; UI, Hisaw 23-18-0 282 RECEIVINGBSU, Richmond 6-63, Graven 4-21, Ikebe 3-67; UI, McKinzie 6-96, Scott 3-74, Gilroy 2-43
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 Color)
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