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Idaho football receiver Dezmon Epps offsets big gains with dropped passes

MOSCOW, Idaho – It’s not something Dezmon Epps does very often.

With a full step on the cornerback trying to defend him, the Idaho senior wide receiver streaked down the sideline to haul in a perfectly placed Matt Linehan pass on Friday night.

But as Epps strode into the end zone, the football hit the turf and Epps’ hands flew in the air as if to signal “what just happened?”

What just happened was his second drop in a row during Idaho’s third scrimmage of the spring.

“You can’t do that, give me a break,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said of his message to Epps during that sequence. “You know Dez, he goes 100 miles an hour every play. Sometimes you have to come back and keep battling and he made, I don’t know, 300 yards?”

Petrino’s estimation would’ve been correct had Epps hauled in the touchdown pass he dropped. Still, Idaho’s top receiving target totaled 273 yards on 14 catches with two touchdowns.

Epps made up for his gaffes with tackle-eluding touchdowns of 33 and 57 yards, dragging defenders into the end zone after making the safety slip on a tackle attempt during his second score.

“That kid is always open,” said Linehan, who threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns during the scrimmage. “He tells me that every play so I’m pretty sure I’m aware Dez is open. I trust him every play he’s in.”

Epps’ production in the passing game was needed with senior running back Elijhaa Penny sidelined after just one carry early in the scrimmage.

Penny will return for the Friday Spring Game at 4 p.m., which spurred Petrino to think it might’ve been a positive. It gave Isaiah Saunders and Aaron Duckworth plenty of opportunity to fill the void.

Duckworth hit the perimeter and ran downhill at times for 96 yards. Saunders put in his work in the red zone, scoring two physical pile-pushing touchdowns.

“You never want to see anyone ever go out but as the day went on both ‘Duck’ (Aaron Duckworth) and Saunders ran really hard, they got better and better,” Petrino said. “Now that you find out he’s okay, it was a good thing because those two guys got some reps and actually played well.”

Much like the previous two scrimmages, the defense also had its time to celebrate, though this time it came from the secondary.

Dorian Clark and Isaiah Taylor both scored touchdowns on interception returns.

Clark showed off his speed and awareness by collecting a tipped pass off the hands of a receiver and dashed down the sideline for an 83-yard score. Taylor jumped in front off freshman Michael Garner and snagged an ill-advised throw from quarterback Jake Luton.

“That was nice … that’s what we need,” senior defensive end Quinton Bradley said. “We need big plays from (our) cornerbacks and safeties.”

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