MOSCOW — In the first half Saturday, the Vandals had Idaho football fans wondering if a blowout was brewing in the Kibbie Dome. In the second half, they had them white-knuckling their seats and holding their breath.
It was a little closer than it should’ve been, but as Idaho coach Paul Petrino said, “Bottom line is we found a way to win, and that’s the most important thing.”
With the clock at 0:00, Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander heaved a Hail Mary pass to the end zone where it was deflected to the turf by Idaho’s Tyrese Dedmon and Marcus Harris.
The Vandals, playing at home for the first time in 35 days, edged the Vikings 42-35 on homecoming.
“Big win, gets us to 1-1 (in the Big Sky),” Petrino said. “... It’s huge. I think anytime you play at home, you gotta win at home.”
The Vandals survived a Hail Mary play that should never have been, 21 Vikings’ points in the fourth quarter and 588 yards of PSU offense.
But the Vandals made big plays when they needed them most.
Idaho built a 35-7 lead in the first half only for PSU to steadily chip away. The Vikings had all the momentum when Idaho found a spark from its senior quarterback in the fourth quarter.
Facing a third-and-12 from the UI 31-yard line, Mike Beaudry scrambled for a 25-yard gain before sliding down in Portland State territory. Two plays later, he hit Terez Traynor for a 32-yard over-the-shoulder reception down the sideline.
The big run and pass plays by Beaudry set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Roshaun Johnson for Idaho’s first points since the second quarter and a 42-28 lead.
It was a momentum-slicing touchdown, and it ended up being the difference in the game after PSU scored once more later in the quarter.
“That’s huge, that’s leading us to victory,” Petrino said. “That’s him stepping up and finding a way to get it done. I thought that was a huge play.”
In a game where Beaudry had a big run, running quarterback Zach Borisch had a bigger pass.
Borisch — Idaho’s leading rusher this season out of the wildcat formation — threw his first pass of the season for a 46-yard touchdown to Dalton Cash on play action. The sophomore also had a team-high 83 rushing yards, including a 46-yard rumble that set up his 2-yard score on Idaho’s opening drive.
Beaudry finished 10-of-15 passing for 162 yards and a touchdown. The two quarterbacks switched seamlessly in and out of the lineup throughout the game.
“We just feed off each other and help each other,” Borisch said of his fellow quarterback. “I couldn’t be more lucky to have him there. … Once somebody needs to pick up the slack, the other one picks up the slack.”
After PSU tied the game at 7 on an Alexander touchdown pass to Beau Kelly, Idaho scored the next 28 points.
Big, 250-pound sophomore running back Aundre Carter barrelled over a defender and rumbled 41 yards for a score.
After that, UI’s leading receiver, Traynor nabbed his first touchdown as a Vandal. The sophomore finished with five catches for 114 yards.
It was looking like it was going to be a comfortable, feel-good homecoming for the Vandals.
But an unlikely sequence just before halftime signaled what was to come.
Roughing the passer and offsides penalties gave PSU an untimed down right before intermission, and Alexander took advantage with an 11-yard touchdown strike to Kelly. Just like that, it was 35-14 Idaho on the bonus play.
The Vandals similarly had a major miscue in the final minute of the game. With Beaudry banged up, Idaho chose to run the ball instead of kneel it with 26 seconds left since Borisch hadn’t practiced the victory formation, Petrino said. But Borisch fumbled on the play and the Vikings had some life.
They got to midfield with enough time to try for the failed Hail Mary play on the final play.
“It wasn’t very smart,” Petrino said. “We gotta make sure we practice the Victory-O.”
As Petrino said, a win is a win and he’s glad his team found a way to get it done on homecoming.
“To see some of the greats, you see Sherriden May, Alann Allen, you see some of the great former players around — it’s awesome,” the coach said. “You see all the alumni and former students around — (Seahawks quarterback) Jake Luton even came to our game today.
“You want to go out and play good in front of those people, so I thought it was very important for us to play well and we came away with a win.”
Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, email@example.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.