Idaho sent a homecoming crowd announced at more than 10,000 home happy with a 55-35 win against the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado.
The game featured an impressive 543 yards of offense by the Vandals and four first-half lead changes before Idaho asserted control in the final two periods.
Hayden Hatten caught a pair of third-quarter touchdowns, leaping to grab Gevani McCoy’s pass at the Bears’ 30-yard line and breaking two tackles on the way to the end zone for the first one. He took the second one in from 9 yards out on another McCoy pass.
Those scores were sandwiched around Idaho linebacker Paul Moala’s drive-killing interception of Bears quarterback Dylan McCaffrey’s short pass over the middle. Murvin Kenion also picked off a tipped pass for the Vandals in the final period.
Idaho went into the fourth quarter leading 45-28, and the Bears, who had stayed in contact with Idaho to that point, could not match the Vandals’ finishing kick.
McCoy finished the night 21 of 26 for 298 yards and four touchdowns for the Vandals.
Hatten led Idaho with eight catches for 131 yards . Jermaine Jackson was close behind with five receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Anthony Woods rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown, and Elijah Cummings ran for 78 yards and a pair of scores for Idaho. Cummings also scored a third touchdown for the Vandals on a 12-yard pass .
Ricardo Chavez completed the scoring for the Vandals with a 39-yard field goal with just under 5 minutes to play.
McCaffrey finished 14-for-22 passing for 224 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Elijah Dotson was UNC’s leading rusher with 74 yards and a touchdown, and he was one of McCaffrey’s favorite targets. He caught four passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. David Afari was UNC’s leading receiver with a pair of receptions for 52 yards.
On its first possession of the second half, Idaho extended its lead to 31-20, going 58 yards in seven plays as Woods got the bulk of that on a 29-yard run to the Bears’ 15-yard line. From there, Woods followed a good surge by Idaho’s offensive line to the end zone.
UNC offset that with a 58-yard drive that concluded when McCaffrey rolled out from Idaho’s 7-yard line and found Dotson in the end zone. The Bears got a 2-point conversion pass from McCaffrey to Ty Arrington to draw within 3 points, 31-28.
The Vandals fended off UNC once again on the next series, highlighted when Hatten leaped to catch a pass over the Bears’ Makhi Johnson at the 30-yard line. He then broke two tackles to score, giving Idaho a 38-28 lead.
The first half saw the lead change hands four times. On Idaho’s first play at its own 25, McCoy went deep to Jackson, who had shaken free from Bears free safety Jordan Knapke. Jackson was brought down at UNC’s 27. Three plays later on third-and-9 at the 26, McCoy went to Jackson again. Jackson followed an offensive lineman’s block to the end zone.
The Bears answered when Afari capped an 8-play 75-yard drive when he stepped through an ankle tackle in the backfield at the Idaho 15-yard line, sprinted to the corner and reached the end zone. However, Idaho blocked the extra point.
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