Both Idaho (1-4, 0-2 Sun Belt) and Arkansas State (2-3, 1-0 Sun Belt) went into Saturday's tilt with one win on the season, but it was ASU that came out with the 44-35 win. The teams finished the first quarter tied at seven apiece, with Idaho jumping out to an early 7-0 lead on an Elijhaa Penny 1-yard run. But ASU would go on to build a 42-21 lead over the next two quarters. Over those first three quarters the Red Wolves scored on touchdown runs of 50 and 59 yards, and for the game gashed Idaho for 333 net yards on the ground, plus another 188 through the air.
The Idaho offense never did get into a rhythm, but there were glimpses of the upside to redshirt freshman Jake Luton making his first start under center for the injured Matt Linehan. He distributed the ball to seven different receivers and showed an ability to move the ball on the ground when necessary. He ran into the endzone untouched on three separate occasions from short yardage, and led UI on four lengthy drives.
The ability was clearly on display, but the consistency will have to come with time.
Below is a summary of Idaho's top performers from Saturday, with text pulled from Idaho's media release following the game.
NOTE: This coming weekend is Idaho’s bye week. The Vandals then hit the road to take on Troy in Alabama on Oct. 17th, and then Idaho returns home October 24th for Homecoming.
Jake Luton - Luton became just the second Vandal quarterback to rush for three touchdowns in a single game with his two one-yard runs and a three-yarder last Saturday. The only other time an Idaho quarterback rushed for three touchdowns in a single game was when Vandal Athletics Hall of Famer and current Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier ran for three against St. Cloud State on Sept. 5, 1995. Luton is the second Vandal this season to rush for three – sophomore running back Aaron Duckworth ran for three TDs against Wofford last month.
Elijhaa Penny - For the season Penny has accumulated 384 yards on the season, including netting 99 yards rushing on Saturday. It was tough sledding most of the night for the Vandals on the ground, but in the fourth quarter Penny finally found the daylight he was looking for and scampered 68 yards inside the Arkansas State 10-yard line, setting up an Idaho score. Twice this season he's fallen just short of breaking the century mark (99 at ASU, 98 against Wofford, plus another 84 against Georgia Southern).
Chris Edwards - As for Edwards, his 20-yard interception return for a touchdown was Idaho’s first scoring interception return since Bradley Njoku returned one 37 yards against North Dakota on Sept. 10, 2011. Idaho is the league leader in defensive touchdowns scored with Edwards’ interception last Saturday and Russell Siavii’s fumble recovery return against Wofford. Their two defensive scores rank seventh nationally.
Dezmon Epps - Senior receiver Dezmon Epps maintained his Sun Belt Conference lead in receptions per game (10.5, third nationally), receiving yards per game (132, seventh nationally), and total receiving yards (528, eighth nationally). On the Idaho all-time lists, he’s .11 off Jerry Hendren’s career average receptions per game mark. Hendren, another Vandal Athletics Hall of Famer who played at Idaho from 1967-69, averaged 7.67 receptions per game; Epps is at 7.56. Epps is just outside he top 10 in career receptions in 13th with 121. Don’t forget to vote for Epps in the Biletnikoff Award fan poll.
Austin Rehkow - Idaho's All-American punter is perfect on the season in field goals, kicking a perfect 7-of-7 so far. He didn't attempt any field goals Saturday, but he continued his ascent in the punting category. Against Arkansas State Rehkow averaged 46.0 yards per punt on five kicks, booted a long of 65 yards, and dropped three inside the Red Wolf 20 yard line. Rehkow is currently ranked 17th nationally with a 45.0 yards per punt average, between Austin Siebert (Oklahoma) and Johnny Townsend (Florida).
Quinton Bradley - Senior defensive end Quinton Bradley leads the league in sacks per game (.80) and tackles for loss per game (1.6), which are 32nd and 26th nationally, respectively.