Returning Home VICTORIOUS!

LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com

Idaho recorded their first win of the season, beating Eastern Michigan of the Mid American Conference, 45-41, on the road in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The team demonstrated impressive determination and perseverance in this game, coming back from a 3-point deficit late in the 4th quarter to secure the win.<br> <br> Many congratulations to the team, and the coaching staff, on an impressive first victory.

LINK: OFFICIAL SITE WRITE-UP & STATS


How big was this victory today? Huge. It was Idaho's first non-Conference road victory since 1999, when the Vandals beat Montana 33-30 in Missoula (excluding the 1999 and 2000 victories over Washington State, played in neighboring Pullman). It was Idaho's first non-conference road win over a Division 1-A team since 1998 (again, excluding Wazzu), when the Vandals beat San Jose State 17-12.

So yeah, this was a big win for Idaho today as Coach Holt continues his quest to return the Vandals to their winning ways prior to the 2000 season.

This was also a key victory for a number of other reasons. The team has played a brutal non-conference schedule, again, and simultaneously fielded the youngest team Idaho has likely ever fielded in its history. They've worked through the loss of a friend and teammate in Eric McMillan. They've ushered in a new coaching staff, and played all of their games up to this point on the road.

It was also a key game because not only does the Conference schedule resume next weekend in The Dome, but Idaho gets a little bit of an advantage this time, playing their next 2 games at home.

Not a bad way to start off the most important part of their schedule.


VANDAL OFFENSE


LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
True Freshman runningback Jayson Bird rushed for 125 yards, caught 5 passes for 45 yards, and scored 3 TDs.


LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Junior quarterback Michael Harrington completed 77.8% of this passes for 318 yards.
Offensively the Vandals had a number of heroes today, and several players who recorded career bests. As a team, they were a perfect 5-5 in the redzone. They put together a 14 play, 77 yard, 5:56 drive in the 4th quarter to take the final 45-41 lead. As a team, they committed just 5 penalties for 55 yards.

Among the biggest performances came at the hands at the one player counted on for consistency and leadership, quarterback and captain Michael Harrington. He didn't throw a TD pass on the day, but he continues to be very accurate with his passes. On the afternoon he completed 77.8% of his throws for a career best 318 yards. He was sacked twice, but did not throw a single interception in 36 attempts.

His hot target? Senior wide-out Bobby Bernal-Wood, who since the Washington State game has become Idaho's key go-to guy. Against Eastern Michigan Bobby recorded 12 receptions for an impressive 153 yards, with a long of 29 yards on the day. Sophomore Wendell Octave hauled in 5 passes for 55 yards and a long of 19 yards.

Who else was Harrington throwing to? Idaho's true freshmen runningbacks, Jayson Bird and Rolly Lumbala. On the afternoon Bird caught 5 passes for 42 yards with a long of 18. Bruiser Lumbala countered with just one reception, but he carried the rock on that pass 31 yards to keep an Idaho drive alive.


LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Rolly Lumbala scored 3 TDs.
When Idaho wasn't throwing the ball, they were running the ball...alot. Both backs had impressive days, but for slightly different reasons. Jayson Bird complimented his 42 receiving yards with 125 yards rushing in 26 carries on the afternoon, giving him 167 all-purpose yards on the day. He exploded on one carry for 34 yards, scored 3 TDs for Idaho, but fumbled once. Rolly Lumbala didn't put up the flashy rushing yards, but his 37 yards on 12 carries, including 3 rushing TDs, were hard fought dives into the pile. He lost just one yard all day.

And finally, the offensive line. Someone had to move people out of the way so that Idaho could compile 464 yards and 45 points in the game. The big hosses up front did an impressive job, as demonstrated in the monster hole created below. This young line is coming together nicely, and are slowly forcing defenses to account for the running game, which ultimately will open things up for the Vandal passing game.


LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
Offensive line at work.


VANDAL DEFENSE


LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
WILL Robert Davis (17) recorded 8 tackles & 2 tackles for loss.

Well, it was neither stingy nor a steel curtain, but the Vandal defense ultimately stood tall when the team needed them the most. Clinging to a 4-point lead deep into the 4th quarter, with EMU knocking on the door from the Idaho 30 yard line with 1st and 10, the Vandal defense held. Yielding a 3 yard completion on 2nd down, the Vandals applied heavy pressure to EMU quarterback Matt Bohnet on 3rd and 4th downs, yielding no gain on either down and allowing Idaho to take over with 24 seconds left in the game.

One of the players largely responsible for the 3rd and 4th down stops was senior captain Brandon Kania, a defensive end out of Pasco, Washington. For the day Brandon recorded 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a sack, and a QB hurry (the 4th down play to end the game). An outstanding effort for the senior.

Once again atop the tackle chart was junior middle linebacker Cole Syder, logging 13 tackles on the day, including 5 solo take downs (he now has 51 tackles on the year). Also making a familiar stop at the top of the Vandal tackle chart was true freshman strong safety D.J. Dykes, recording 10 tackles (7 solo tackles), good for #2 on the team.

Returning to the upper end of the chart was junior Mike Anderson, a converted linebacker now playing DE in Coach Holt's new defensive scheme. For the day he tied for #2 on team with 10 tackles (4 solo), forced and recovered a fumble, partially blocked a punt, and recorded a QB hurry.

Senior captain, free safety Simeon Stewart, rounded out the top 4 tacklers on the team and had one of his best days as a Vandal, with 9 tackles, 1 pass breakup, and an interception return for 28 yards.

Among the others making noise defensively, senior CB J.R. Ruffin recorded 7 tackles and a pass breakup, true freshman nose guard Siua Musika was in on 6 tackles, and redshirt freshman OLB Josh Bousman recorded 6 tackles (2 solo) and a QB hurry.

Overall the unit yielded 216 yards rushing to EMU on 42 rushing attempts. They gave up just 228 yards through the air on 43 attempts, with 1 interception. After giving up 17 in the 3rd quarter, they gave up just 3 points in the 4th. As stated before, when the team needed them the most, they held. Something to build on as the team heads home to take on Louisiana Monroe at The Dome.


LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
DE Mike Anderson (13) recovers the fumble he forced near midfield.



SPECIAL TEAMS


LARRY JOHNSON / VandalVenue.com
K/P Mike Barrow (43) on his 42 yard attempt kicks behind the blocking of OG Ryan Waage (71).

The Mike Barrow show continues, as the sophomore continues to gain in confidence with each week. Saturday Mike was given one opportunity to kick a field goal, and connected from 42 yards out in the third quarter to give Idaho a 38-24 lead. He was perfect on PATs.

From a punting standpoint, he had 7 punts on the day, averaging 39.4 yards per boot, with a long 50 yards.

The kick coverage unit had a fairly good day, if you take away the one kickoff that was returned for 63 yards to the Idaho 29 yard line. Aside from that kick, they gave up just under 15 yards per kick. Not dazzling, but not horrendous. Conversely, the punt coverage unit gave up just 9 yards per punt return, with 4 of Barrows 7 punts not being returned at all.



UP NEXT: OFFICIAL SITE for The University of Louisiana-Monroe


DANNY JOHNSTON / AP
UL-Monroe runningback Mason Denham rushing against the University of Arkansas.

LINK: UL-M Fan Message Board (Delphi)

Idaho takes on the University of Louisiana - Monroe (0-4, 0-1 SBC) next Saturday in The Dome. Last year Idaho throttled the Indians 53-20 in Monroe, and the Indians will be hoping to give Idaho a little payback.

Offensively, the Indians typically use a single-back set. Top rusher is sophomore Kevin Payne (6-0, 210), averaging 53 YPG with a long of 33 yards. JC transfer Mason Denham is averaging 38 YPG. Quarterback Steven Jyles, a double threat throwing and running, is averaging 39 yards RUSHING per game. Jyles is also averaging 178 yards PASSING per game, hitting 52% of this throws with 3 TDs and 4 picks. The top receiver is Douzo Quillen, averaging 68 yards receiving per game, with a long of 77 yards. Fullback Joey Trappey is averaging 39 yards receiving per game.

Defensively, the Indians run a 4-3 and are seniors across the front. They have 2 seniors lining up at starting DT (both 6-3, one is 266, the other 285), and seniors at DE (Brandon Guillory, 6-4, 225, is 4th on the team with 24 tackles on the year, including 7 tackles for loss). They've recorded 4 interceptions on the year, and 2 of their top 3 tacklers on the year are DBs (one FS and one CB). Their top tackler is senior linebacker John Winchester (6-3, 246).

On special teams, kick returner Charles Estes is averaging 25.3 yards per return, with a long of 57 yards. Kicker Ragan Walters is 3-5 on the year and perfect on PATs (6-6). Punter Joel Stelly has 24 punts on the year, is averaging 45.4 yards per punt, with a long of 69 yards and 7 boots inside the opponents 20.


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