Raiders Plunder

On Saturday Idaho jumped out to a thrilling 14-0 first quarter lead, but lost in overtime to the Blue Raiders 28-21 at The Dome.

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Rally On The Road (Daily News Journal - Tennessee)

Hines Shines When He Needs To (Daily News Journal)

Idaho Stateman Article

Talk about Déjà vu. For the second week in a row at The Dome, Idaho jumped out to a thrilling 14-0 first quarter lead, only to walk away from the game with the loss. This week, it was MTSU who left Moscow with a 28-21 overtime victory.

After punting on their first possession, Idaho took their second possession the length of the field to go up 7-0 on the Raiders. On MTSU's next possession, Idaho's pressure defense resulted in a tipped pass, which middle linebacker Mike Anderson intercepted and returned 31 yards to the Raider 2 yard line in a diving effort to score. A couple plays later the Vandal offense punched it in, and everything appeared to be looking like a Vandal romp.

Not quite.

As things went, this really could have been an MTSU blowout. Twice Idaho forced fumbles on MTSU ball carriers as they were heading to the endzone. In both cases, the ball rolled out of the endzone, ending up as touchbacks with Idaho taking possession at the 20 yard line. To see that happen once in a game is unusual, but twice? With that much karma working for the Vandals (including the pick and a third quarter fieldgoal block), it seemed this victory was inevitable.

But this game was really a microcosm of the season for both programs. MTSU (2-5, 2-0 SBC) did everything they could to give the game away, while Idaho (1-7, 1-2 SBC) could not find a way to seal the victory. When it seemed Idaho had all kinds of offensive momentum, they stalled. Obviously, MTSU deserves a lot of the credit for making the necessary adjustments. And, sitting in the stands, the Raiders are by far the biggest (and we don't mean rotund, we're talking tall and stout) and most athletic "looking" team that has visited The Dome this fall. They are very much a deep team with athletic talent that has played a brutal schedule.

All that being said, Idaho had several opportunities to seal this victory but couldn't.

The trick play that ended the game was truly unfortunate, and simply the way things have been going all year. Under most circumstances, that play is probably relatively incomplete pass at the worst (according to the players, it had been setup well all afternoon). But this season, it's a pick. What's unfortunate about it was that the offense had just earned a first down on 4th and short (MTSU scored a TD on their first OT possession, so Idaho had to score a TD), they had a fresh set of downs at the MTSU 14 yard line, an All-Conference QB under center, and this was a must-win game for Idaho to keep their Conference race alive.

Unfortunately, the worst possible outcome happened, and Idaho lost the game on a 1st and 10 play from the opponents 14 yard line.

This week the Vandals head to the University of Louisiana Lafayette (1-7, 1-0 SBC) to take on a Cajun team that just earned their first win of the season....over NMSU 26-24 last Thursday night.


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#8 J.R. Ruffin, CB
6-0, 175, Jr
RUFFIN REDEMPTION: Junior cornerback J.R. Ruffin has been one of the biggest impact players of the season, and one of the biggest surprises on an improving defense. A starter since conference play began, and a major contributor throughout the season, J.R. has proven to be one of the better open field tacklers in the backfield, and good in pass coverage. Against MTSU he had another solid game. However, on particular play in the 3rd quarter he was burned on a play that resulted in a huge MTSU gain deep into Idaho territory. The defense stiffened, and forced the Raiders into a fieldgoal situation. On the attempt, Ruffin rushed in from the right side, dove, and stuffed the kick. Idaho took over possession at about the 15 yard line, and Ruffin single-handedly boosted the team (Idaho drove the length of the field scored on the possession).

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#29 Curtis Bibolet, WLB
6-3, 232, Jr
NEW LOOK DEFENSE: Congratulations to weakside linebacker Curtis Bibolet, a junior who took over the starting job last week. Congratulations also to redshirt sophomore Nate Nichols who won the starting outside linebacking job (he started against Eastern Washington earlier this year), and to junior cornerback Simeon Stewart, who made his second start of the season (also started against Eastern).

SPEAKING OF MR. HUFF: Congratulations to newcomer Jarvis Huff, a defensive back who very quietly joined the program over the summer, and this week led the Vandals in tackling with 13 on the game (including 1 tackle for loss). We've been seeing a lot of Jarvis this season (he played extensively against WSU and several other games, and started last week against UNT), and haven't given him nearly enough props for the effort his been giving this season.

TOP RECEIVER: Senior Orlando Winston led the Vandal receivers with an impressive 10 receptions for 144 yards, including a TD and a 41 yard reception. Junior Jimmy Labita was second on the team with 5 catches for 60 yards. He didn't have any fireworks this week, but he made a couple of key third down catches.

GERSTNER PLOWS FORWARD: Zach has 607 yards rushing through 8 games this season, and has rushed for over 100 yards each of the last 3 weeks. Saturday he rushed for 113 yards on 24 carries with a long of 34 yards.

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