|Vandals fall just short|
The storyline has been a repetitive and painful one for the Idaho Vandals who, once again, had their hearts broken in the waning moments. This time it was by Hawai`i, which eked out by the narrowest of margins a 16-14 victory over the Vandals at the Kibbie Dome.
“Painful. It’s painful right now,” coach Robb Akey said after Idaho fell to 1-7 overall, 0-4 in the Western Athletic Conference. “We had every opportunity to finish this one. Offense had a chance to finish it. Defense had a chance to finish it. Special teams had a chance to finish it.”
It came down to field goals made and missed at the end of the game but this one before 10,461 fans unfolded in the most peculiar of fashions.
Idaho’s first score came in the hands of 308-pound offensive tackle Matt Cleveland, who scooped up Princeton McCarty’s fumble in the end zone with 8:13 left in the first quarter. That bobble by McCarty ended positive and didn’t mar his journeyman effort as he slashed, bashed and battled his way to 99 yards on 28 rugged carries.
On the other side of the ball, Idaho’s defense seemed to play better with every down. It held Hawai`i’s run game to a meager 15 yards – in no small part because of six sacks and a total 12 tackles for losses for -54 yards. Add an interception and five forced fumbles and it brings up the next big play for Idaho – Tracy Carter’s 70-yard interception for a TD to push the Vandals ahead, 14-13, with 4:22 left in the third.
In between those Vandals’ scores, Hawai`i tallied a two-yard scoring pass from Bryant Moniz to Billy Ray Stutzman and two field goals (27 yards by Kenton Chun and 47 yards by Tyler Hadden) as the team slugged it out without lighting the scoreboard much.
Nursing its one-point through the remainder of the third quarter and into the fourth, the Vandals had chances to bolster their lead. The first was on a failed fourth-down attempt at the Warriors’ 15; the next best one ended on an interception of a Brian Reader pass on third-and-six at the UH 9.
Nevertheless, the Vandals still were leading and the Warriors had 78 yards to go against a defense that didn’t quit. They didn’t make it the full 78 yards but, with the time ticked down to the last 32 seconds, Chun made what turned out to be the winning field goal – a 35 yarder.
The Vandals weren’t done trying. Reader advanced the Vandals to the Hawai`i 36 to set up Trey Farquhar’s 53-yard field goal attempt, which was long enough but off slightly to the left as the clocked wound down to 00:00.
“I think we’re capable of it,” Akey said. “We just have to finish it. It kills to be sitting here with only one win. When they’ve come as close as they have. There’s nobody that wants to have that success more than these guys do. It’s our names that are on the label.”
Taylor Davis started at quarterback for Idaho for the first time in his career. Before giving way to Reader at the start of the fourth quarter, he had completed six of 17 passes for 33 yards. In Reader’s brief stint, he was five-of-seven for 52 yards. Each was intercepted once.
Benson Mayowa was an imposing figure on defense with three sacks. Conrad Scheidt added two more (as well as a tackle of loss) and Charles Smith had one (it led to the fumble that set up Cleveland’s first-quarter score). Korey Toomer and Homer Mauga each had two tackles for loss, while Quin Ashley had the interception and Andre Ferguson added a recovery of a UH fumble to Carter’s.