SAN JOSE, Calif. – So what that the offense didn’t click until the fourth quarter. The key is it finally did and this time the Idaho Vandals left the field smiling and victorious.
After giving up 20 first-quarter points (three because of turnovers), Idaho rallied in the fourth to upend San Jose State 32-29 in a Western Athletic Conference game at Spartan Stadium.
Heading into the final period, the picture was one Vandal fans had seen often this year. A stalwart defense and an inconsistent offense. With just 126 total yards to its credit through the first three quarters, the Vandal offense literally blew by the Spartans in the fourth with 219 yards netting 21 points and the long-sought victory.
“I’m proud of our players but more than anything I’m happy for them,” coach Robb Akey said after Idaho improved to 2-7 and 1-4 in the league as SJSU dropped to 3-6, 2-3. “We certainly made it as hard as we could.
“I’m not going to tell you everything was beautiful – but the score was.”
The defense didn’t give up a point until the final minute of the game after the first-quarter flurry. The offense, however, was guilty of a safety when quarterback Taylor Davis was sacked in the second quarter.
Despite the offense’s struggles, the game remained close enough for Kama Bailey’s score with 9:57 left in the game to pull the Vandals within five points. Tight end Mike LaGrone, who had four catches for 65 yards, caught the go-ahead pass with 3:59 on the clock and Ryan Bass, who has been sidelined with illness for most of the season, gave the Vandals what turned out to be a crucial 10-point lead, 32-22, on his one-yard plunge with 1:49 to go.
Aiding in the effort were linebacker Korey Toomer, who scored on a two-point conversion run, and kicker Trey Farquhar, whose career-best 55-yarder gave the Vandals their all-important 10 points at the half. That 55-yarder ties for the second best in school history.
Bailey had a career game with 163 yards rushing and another 11 on a single reception. He handed out accolades to those in front of him.
“It started with our offensive line,” he said. “Then the receivers did a great job blocking downfield.”
Defensively, again it was senior captain Tre`Shawn Robinson with the big numbers. He totaled 14 tackles and helped corral the San Jose State offense when the Vandals most needed it.
The Spartans capitalized on Idaho’s first-drive miscue – a fumble by Mike Scott, although they had to settle for a 19-yard Jens Alvernik field goal after Aaron Grymes batted the ball away from the intended receiver on third down. With 7:14 left in the first, SJSU led 3-0.
The Vandals weren’t as fortunate on their next possession, which also resulted in a fumble – this time by Matthew Harvey on the kickoff return. SJSU needed just two plays to cover the 24 yards with Brandon Rutley scoring on a three-yard run after picking up the first 21 yards on a reception. With 6:38 to go in the first, the Spartans led 10-0.
SJSU stretched that to 17-0 by taking advantage of the short field created when an Idaho drive stalled and the punt was short to give the Spartans the ball at the Idaho 44. Five players later Tyler Ervin scored on an 11-yard run with 12 minutes elapsed in the first.
The Vandals made it three-for-three when a deflected pass was intercepted and the Spartans again had the ball. This possession crossed over into the second quarter and wound up a 26-yard Alvernik field goal with 12:35 left in the half.
Idaho finally lit the scoreboard on Kama Bailey’s two-yard run – a possibility set up by a 37-yard hook-up between Taylor Davis and Mike LaGrone. Trey Farquhar’s kick put the finishing touch on the 68-yard drive and made it 20-7 with 9:03 to go before halftime.
Idaho gained a turnover when Mike Cosgrove recovered a fumble to end SJSU’s next drive. Idaho’s offense still was struggling, however, and went three-and-out on the possession. The Vandal defense returned the favor and forced the Spartans to punt. The ball was downed at the Idaho 11. After an incomplete pass, Davis was tackled in the end zone and the Spartans went up 22-7 on the safety with 2:32 left in the half.
SJSU missed on a 46-yard field goal attempt on its next possession. Idaho regained possession at its 29 with 39 seconds to go in the half. The Vandals marched to the Spartans’ 38 to set up what became Trey Farquhar’s career-best field goal and tied for the second best in school history as he booted a 55-yarder as time expired to cut the gap to 22-10 at the half.
After trading possessions throughout the third quarter and into the fourth, Idaho scored with 9:57 to play on a three-yard run by Bailey, which was set up by a 49-yard pass from Davis to Mike Scott. Bailey also covered 17 yards on the play leading up to his second score of the game. Farquhar’s kick made it 22-17.