In a game filled with the same problematic calling cards that have become all too familiar with 2012, the Idaho Vandals struggled through turnovers, penalties and inconsistency in a determined effort that saw them fall to the Utah State Aggies 45-9 this past Saturday.
“That was the story of our season,” said interim head coach Jason Gesser, who took over the team for the final four games of the season. “I’m proud of our guys’ fight. They battled.”
The problems started quickly piling up for the Vandals as quarterback Taylor Davis had three intercepted passes in the first half including one that was returned for a 59-yard touchdown. The Aggies used the other two interceptions to help build a 21 unanswered point run that gave them a sizable lead that held into the early stages of the second quarter.
A reliable source of scoring through-out the season, senior kicker Trey Farquhar got the Vandals on to the scoreboard to end the scoreless drought. As another Idaho drive failed to produce a touchdown, Farquhar was clutch for the team as he has been all season long, hitting a 38-yard field goal to make it a 21-3 game mid-way through the second. Farquhar would make it 21-6 after hit a 46-yarder later in the quarter following a Solomon Dixon interception that put the ball back in the hands of Idaho.
Dixon’s interception was only part of an impressive effort by the Vandal defense, which held USU to 250 yards of total offense, well below their season average of nearly 480 yards a game.
“They racked up a couple of big plays,” said Gesser. “Our defense made some stops; did some good things. Offensively, we could not move the ball.”
The first drive of the second half for the Vandals started off shaky as they avoided a couple close calls, but still failed to find the end-zone. Farquhar once again was brought in to be the hero, hitting a 52-yard field goal to make it a 21-9 game with 9:55 left in the third quarter of play.
Utah State would fire back quickly, responding with a two-play 55-yard drive that extended the lead to 38-9 with 9:20 left in the quarter. The remainder of the quarter featured both teams trading punts as neither of them could get within striking distance.
The Aggies would break out in the fourth quarter, putting on 17 additional points, a 45-yard field goal by Nick Diaz and rushing touchdowns by running-backs Kerwynn Williams and Joe Hill, to give the game its final 45-9 score.
In the post-game interview, Gesser was apologetic for a late-game scuffle on the USU sideline between the two squads.
“I do apologize for that,” he said.
With the win, Utah State, who improved to 10-2 overall and 6-0 in conference play, claimed the final Western Athletic Conference football title and their first out-right title in 76 years.
For Idaho, they end their season with a 1-11 record with a 1-5 record in conference play. The 2012 season marks the third time since moving up to the FBS in 1996 that the Vandals have finished with only one win and the sixth time they have finished with 10 losses or more.
In the 16 years the program has been at the FBS level, the football team has gone 67-133 with four winning seasons and two post-season bowl wins.