Vandals stumble one last time

MISSOULA, Mont. -- After a season full of woes, why should the final game be any different?

Missing four field goals and an extra point, turning the ball over twice deep in its own territory, and unable to get a defensive stop in overtime clinched the first 10-game losing season in University of Idaho football history.

The Vandals again were their own worst enemy and wrapped up the season losing a 33-27 double overtime heartbreaker to the University of Montana before 18,056 fans at Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The nonleague loss means UI finishes the season at 1-10, the first time it has won only one game since the 1960 season when UI went 1-9. It's also Idaho's worst record of the modern era as the all-time worst mark is 0-4 in 1899.

Montana finishes the regular season at 11-1 and will likely retain its No. 1 ranking in Division I-AA, which will give it homefield advantage throughout the 16-team I-AA playoffs, which open next Saturday.

While the Vandals caused themselves plenty of problems, the kicking game gets the top billing in this one. Keith Stamps, who won the kicking job early in the season, missed field goals of 38 and 42 yards, both wide left, and then an extra point in the fourth quarter. Brian Pope then took over, but he missed a 42-yard field goal attempt with 8:52 left and then one in overtime.

After both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime -- Idaho's coming on a fourth-and-15 pass play -- Idaho had the ball first in the second OT, but had to settle for a 28-yard field goal attempt. Holder Adam Mallette, however, fumbled the snap and didn't get the ball cleanly set when Pope kicked it, causing it to wobble and land short.

Montana then won the ballgame on the next play when running back Yo Humphery scored on a 25-yard run.

That left Idaho with another gut-wrenching loss as for the third straight year, the UM-Idaho game was decided in the final minute, including twice on the final play. Idaho dominated play for the most part, using a strong running game led by Anthony Tenner as well as a strong defensive effort that held Montana to just a field goal in the second half.

"I told them after the game we have improved,'' Idaho coach Tom Cable said. "We played like we're suppose to play the damn game. We played really well other than the two turnovers and four missed field goals.''

Idaho at least kept the damage on the turnovers to a minimum. The first one came on UI's second series when running back Zach Gerstner coughed up the ball after catching a screen pass, which Montana recovered on its own 45. Thanks to a penalty, Montana actually went backward on the drive and had to punt.

The second fumble came on a punt return as Orlando Winston caught the ball on the run and made a good return before being stripped of the ball, which Montana recovered at the UI 23. Three plays later, Montana running back Yo Humphery scored on a 1-yard run to make it a 14-7 UM lead.

With Idaho stacking defensive players inside and playing man coverage for the most part, the Vandals were trying to stop Montana's running game and force it to throw. The strategy didn't work on the first series as Etu Molden burned UI cornerback Ighe Evero on three plays, including the final one for a 25-yard touchdown.

After that, however, the plan seemed to work as Humphery had 113 yards on the ground, but 25 came on the final play.

Idaho tied the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter when wide receiver Chris Lacy got behind the UM secondary and hauled in a 65-yard pass from John Welsh. That set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Anthony Tenner.

Trailing 14-7, Idaho appeared to get a break when Montana fumbled a punt return, but Stamps' first field goal attempt sailed wide left.

Montana's Chris Snyder, who missed two field goals, including a 40-yarder on the final play of regulation, hit a 33-yarder midway through the second quarter to make it 17-7.

Idaho cut the margin to 14-7 at halftime as Tenner got his second touchdown, this one on a 12-yard run. The senior finished with a career-high 38 rushing attempts and 170 yards.

"We had a good game plan going in to run the football,'' Tenner said. "We stuck to the game plan. I'm proud of the offensive effort, even though we turned the ball over. You can't turn the ball over and beat good teams.''

Idaho held nearly a 2-1 advantage in time of possession, but total yards were fairly even -- Montana had 419, while Idaho had 415.

"It's kind of our motto, just get it done, no matter how we do it,'' said Montana quarterback John Edwards, who completed 21 of 37 passes for 304 yards and two touchdowns, both to Molden.

"How 'bout them Griz?'' Montana coach Joe Glenn said. "It wasn't our most perfect outing, but we fought hard. We find ways to win games. This gives us some momentum coming into the playoffs.''

Snyder hit a 26-yard field goal, sandwiched around two missed UI field goals for a 20-14 lead.

Idaho then got a break late in the third quarter when it punted, but the ball bounced off a Montana player who wasn't looking, and UI recovered at the Montana 36.

Running a perfect play-action pass, Welsh found Rossi Martin behind the UM secondary for a 25-yard touchdown. But the extra-point kick went wide left and the game remained tied at 20-20.

Missed field goals then played out the final quarter as Pope missed a 42-yard attempt with 8:52 left, while Snyder missed a 47-yarder with less than four minutes remaining, and then from 40 yards as time expired.

In overtime, each team gets the ball on the opponent's 25. Montana got the ball first and scored on a 12-yard pass from Edwards to Molden.

Idaho appeared to be in big trouble as a quarterback sack, a run for no gain and an incomplete pass left it facing a fourth-and-15 from the 19. Welsh then rolled out and appeared to throw a desperation pass into the end zone, but UI receiver Ethan Jones outdueled a Montana defender for the ball and the touchdown sent the game into the second overtime.

Idaho had first possession and picked up a first down, but couldn't get closer than the 11. That's when it missed its fourth field goal of the day.

Montana, needing only a score to win the game, decided against trying a 42-yard field goal to the end the game and instead gave the ball to Humphery, who broke to the outside and broke a couple of tackles on his way to the end zone.

Idaho 7 7 0 6 7 0--27

Montana 14 3 3 0 7 6--33

First Quarter

UM--Molden 25 pass from Edwards (Snyder kick), 11:47

UI--Tenner 4 run (Stamps kick), 4:53

UM--Humphery 2 run (Snyder kick), 1:28

Second Quarter

UM--FG Snyder 33, 8:46

UI--Tenner 12 run (Stamps kick), 4:51

Third Quarter

UM--FG Snyder 26, 1:40

Fourth Quarter

UI--Martin 25 pass from Welsh (kick failed), 14:34

First Overtime

UM--Molden 11 pass from Edwards (Snyder kick)

UI--Jones 19 pass from Welsh (Pope kick)

Second Overtime

UM--Humphery 25 run (no attempt)

A--18,056.

UI UM

First downs 23 22

Rushes-yards 57-192 26-115

Passing 243 304

Comp-Att-Int 23-31-0 21-37-0

Return Yards 31 26

Punts-Avg. 5-390 6-39

Fumbles-Lost 3-2 3-2

Penalties-Yards 13-100 6-65

Time of Possession 37:24 22:36

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING--Idaho, Tenner 38-170, Gerstner 11-42, O'Connell 3-9, Lacy 1-(-1), Welsh 4-(-28). Montana, Humphery 16-113, Malcom 1-3, Edwards 9-(-1).

PASSING--Idaho, Welsh 21-28-0-227, Lindgren 2-3-0-16. Montana, Edwards 21-37-0-304.

RECEIVING--Idaho, McCoy 5-17, Gerstner 4-35, Belser 4-30, Tenner 4-28, Lacy 3-78, Jones 2-30, Martin 1-25. Montana, Molden 7-145, Humphery 7-61, Fitzgerald 2-29, Oelkers 2-22, Hancock 1-21, Weston 1-14, Peterson 1-12.


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