Oh, so close

IDAHO REDSHIRT FRESHMAN quarterback MATT LINEHAN got the starting nod Saturday night against ULM in a Sun Belt Conference matchup, and very nearly walked away with the win. Idaho battled back from a 10-point deficit at the start the 4th quarter to tie the game at 31-31 with 4:22 remaining. But with just 9 seconds left in the game the Warhawks punched it in for the go-ahead score and a 38-31 win.

Idaho, coming off a frustrating 1-11 season in 2013, went into Malone Stadium Saturday and battled to a 31-31 tie in the waning minutes of the game. But on this Saturday, Louisiana-Monroe would prevail 38-31 in the Sun Belt Conference opener for both schools.

For the Vandals, several notable standouts deserve mention:

- Matt Linehan: Making his first career start for the Vandals, Linehan played admirably in leading Idaho to 442 yards of total offense despite Idaho's second weather-delayed contest. For the night he finished with 26 completions in 47 attempts for 324 yards and three touchdowns. He battled back from four sacks on the night, took a couple big hits, and turned it over twice (granted, one was a hail-Mary on the last play of the game). Despite the adversity, time-and-time-again he methodically led the Vandal offense on lengthy drives into the endzone and gave Idaho an opportunity to win this game.

- Joshua McCain: The quarterback turned go-to receiver had a big first night as a wideout for UI, leading Vandal receivers with eight receptions for 93 yards and two touchdowns. He had a couple drops that caused him to look down at his gloves several times, and a fumble while heading into ULM territory, but more often than not was on the receiving end of some big plays.

- Deon Watson: The Coeur d'Alene High grad hauled in seven receptions for 98 yards, including slipping behind ULM's cornerback to get into the endzone for the game tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.

- Jerrel Brown: Idaho's senior tailback was a bruiser for the Vandals, carrying the ball 22 times for 118 yards and a long of 18 yards on the night.

- Linebackers Irving Steele and Marc Millan: Senior Millan and junior newcomer Steele combined for 28 tackles on the night (14 apiece). Millan was surgeon-like in the ULM backfield, finishing with three tackles for loss and a QB hurry. Also of note, newcomer safety Chris Edwards added an interception and 42 yard return and a tackle for loss.


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