With alumni and current students in the stands, the University of Idaho football team nabbed their first victory of the Paul Petrino era behind an impressive overall performance from both sides of the ball in their 26-24 win over the Owls of Temple during this past weekend’s Homecoming game.
Idaho, who has struggled scoring early in the opening quarter of play, got on the board first following an opening defensive stand that saw the Vandals force the Owls to punt after losing -13 offensive yards. On 1st and 10 from the Idaho 36 yard line, QB Chad Chalich found RB Richard Montgomery on a wide open wheel route that let him take it to the house for a 64-yard touchdown reception to give Idaho the early 7-0 lead.
Temple would answer back on their next possession, driving the field 73 yards on 12 plays to kick a field goal to make it 7-3 in favor of the Vandals. Neither team would score again in the first quarter as the defenses began to tighten up as both teams combined for five drives that netted them less than 21 yards of offense per drive.
The Vandals would extend their lead twice in the second quarter, first on a five-yard run from Montgomery and secondly from a Austin Rehkow field goal to make it a 17-3 game going into the half. Idaho did have the opportunity to make it a 17-point game at the end of the half, but a 50-yard field goal attempt by Rehkow was just a bit off.
The second half showed a resurgence from the Temple Owls, started off by a 81-yard, eight play drive that ended in a five-yard touchdown run by RB Kenneth Harper to make it a 17-10 game. The Vandals would answer right back with a field goal later in the quarter to go up 20-10.
Idaho would start the final quarter of play with another Rehkow field goal as the Temple defense refused to give up anything more late in the game. Now 23-10, the Owls would catch a big break as QB Connor Reilly found WR Ryan Alderman for a 51-yard touchdown to bring Temple within six points. Rehkow would again be called on by the Vandals to provide a field goal, hitting it from 25 yards out to make it 26-17. Temple would find the end-zone one last time on another run by Harper to put the Owls behind by two.
With less than four minutes left in the game, the Vandals were unable to run out the clock, forcing them to punt it back into the hands of Temple with 10 seconds left. Thankfully for Idaho, good pressure on Reilly and excellent down field coverage saved the day as a Hail Mary pass was batted down to give the Vandals their first when since last year’s game against New Mexico State.
The big story of the game was the impressive play of the redshirt freshmen Chalich. In the passing game, Chalich threw for 310 yards and one touchdown on 26 of 43 passing. On the ground, Chalich led all rushers with 106 yards on 13 carries, becoming the first Idaho QB to rush for more than 100 yards since Doug Nussmeier in a 1993 victory over Boise State.
As a byproduct of the long touchdown catch in the first quarter, Montgomery led all receivers with 110 yards on five receptions followed by WR Najee Lovett with 78 yards on five catches.
"They stepped forward. They held on. They were tough," Coach Paul Petrino said about the overall performance of the team. "They grinded.
"It's a good feeling," Petrino said of the win. "I'm just happy."
In the days following the game, both Chalich and Rehkow received honors for their play. Chalich was named the Independent Offensive Player of the Week by FBS Independents and College Football Madness, while Rehkow was named the Special Teams Player of the Week by FBS Independents and College Football Performance Awards.
The Vandals will stay home this week, looking to advance to 2-4 as they take on potential Heisman hopeful Derek Carr and the #23 ranked Bulldogs of Fresno State.