Vandals WIN!!

Senior running back <b>Blair Lewis</b> runs for 221 yards on 24 carries and 2 touchdowns as the Vandals hang on for the 21-18 victory at The Dome. Idaho evens its Sun Belt Conference mark at 1-1, and improves their season mark to 2-6 with the win today.

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Idaho Official Game Report

MTSU Official Game Report

Spokesman Article #1

Spokesman Article #2

Statesman Article

Murfreesboro Article #1

Murfreesboro Article #2

This game was quite a bit different than the high scoring affair that most prognosticators expected, as this year's matchup didn't come close to last year's 70-58 scoring-fest.

Playing in front of a loud 12,500 fans at The Dome, Idaho runningback Blair Lewis had a career afternoon today and at times looked unstoppable as he amassed 221 yards rushing, including an 81 yard touchdown burst off the left side of the line that gave Idaho a commanding 21-10 advantage to start the 4th quarter.

Idaho had several outstanding performances on both sides of the ball, but could not drive the dagger in the Raiders heart, and as a result the Raiders were in it up until the very end. With a little over 10 minutes left in the game, MTSU drove 75 yards on 7 plays (with some big gains by acclaimed Raider tailback Dwone Hicks) and scored with 8:24 left in the ballgame. They would make a 2-point conversion on a broken play to bring MTSU within a fieldgoal of Idaho.

With MTSU's quarterback Andrico Hines still hobbling significantly from a groin injury suffered earlier in the week (MTSU tried to start the game with 2 freshmen QBs who were both ineffective, forcing Hines to play through his injury), Idaho turned up the heat on the Raider running game. Idaho rushed as many as 7 defenders on several occasions and would end the day with 3 sacks and a handful of hurries. MTSU became essentially a one dimensional team (passing for just 85 yards on 8 of 25 completions under a heavy Idaho rush), as Idaho flooded the Raider offensive front much of the afternoon.

Hicks ended up with a superb effort of 202 yards rushing on 23 carries, but Idaho found a way to contain Dwone for much of the second half.

The linebacking corp stepped up today for the Vandals. Senior Jordan Kramer again led all tacklers and seemed to be in on almost every play, ending with 12 tackles, including a sack and a tackle for loss. Junior middle linebacker Patrick Libey and redshirt freshman Mike Anderson tied for second on the team in tackles with 10 each. Idaho lost one defender, Junior weakside linebacker Chad Kodama in the second half (the extent of his injury is not yet known), but Anderson and senior James Staley stepped up in his absense, and both gave admirable performances.

Linemen Brian Howard and Tali Atoe seemed to be all over the place today, as both led the defensive line in tackles with Brian recording a sack and both recording tackles for loss.

The defensive backs were led by senior Segio Robleto and junior Rod Bryant. Senior Ed Rankin recorded one pass deflections, Bryant had 2, and the Idaho backfield did a good job covering MTSU receivers and giving the Raider QBs few passing options throughout the game.

Offensively, Idaho at times looked like the offensive leader of the Sun Belt Conference that they are, amassing 468 yards total on the day. The hero of this game offensively was senior runningback Blair Lewis, who did an outstanding job running through tacklers and behind an offensive line that at times dominated the line of scrimmage in the second half. In an uncharacteristic Idaho statistic, it was the ground game that led the charge with 242 yards rushing. Intent on burning time off the clock, the guys did a good job keeping it on the floor.

Junior quarterback Brian Lindgren had an efficient 226 yards through the air on 14 of 26 attempts, with 1 TD and no interceptions. The arial attack, however, took a blow today as senior go-to man Josh Jelmberg sustained a second quarter injury. The extent of the injury is not known, but losing him caused the air attack to stall for most of the second period.

But senior wideout Eric Hunter hauled in a 43 yard touchdown pass (with a 20 yard scamper after the completion) in the third quarter to revive the Idaho passing attack. Eric led all receivers with 70 yards, having one of the best games he's ever had for Idaho. Junior Orlando Winston, senior Christopher Belser, and redshirt freshman Jeff Stowe each had critical receptions throughout the day to keep drives alive.

Overall, the team at times looked like the team we expected them to be at the beginning of the season. The offense has some nice weapons to move up and down the field with, and the defense is doing a much improved job of keeping the ball infront of them and bringing down opposing ball carriers.

But Idaho dodged a bullet today, as the offense and special teams noticeably tensed-up near the end of regulation. With several opportunities on the day to close the door on MTSU, drives stalled in Raider territory and unusual special teams mistakes occured. Idaho had them down, but struggled to put them away.

However, and probably most importantly, this is a victory the team needs and deserves to savor. The Vandal defense stiffened admirably in the second half, limiting MTSU to just one touchdown after half time. That stat alone, against a team with as much athletic talent as MTSU has is worthy of a hearty slap on the back. Offensively, Idaho showed that they can run as well as anyone in the conference, and when the passing game is on track it is impressive, even without its top receiver in the mix.

The Vandals are still very much in the conference championship race. Hopefully this victory today is the boost of confidence this team needs to attack the rest of the teams on their schedule.

Congratulation on a solid effort overall, and for grabbing a much needed victory on this Homecoming Weekend in Moscow.

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