A nightmare season full of miscues ended this past weekend in a manner most befitting Idaho as dropped passes and turnovers gave New Mexico State the upper hand as the Aggies defeated the Vandals 24-16 at Memorial Stadium.
“Today was very disappointing,” Coach Paul Petrino said after the game.
The game started out relatively slow, with the two teams trading punts on their first two possessions of the contest. NMSU would strike first on a 28-yard touchdown from QB Andrew McDonald to WR Austin Franklin that put the Aggies up 7-0 half way through the first quarter on a eight play, 95-yard drive.
The Vandals wouldn’t be able to respond until early minutes of the second quarter when QB Taylor Davis would find TE Michael LaGrone on a 56-yard pass play to tie the game up. Thanks to a pair of Austin Rehkow field goals, Idaho would build up a 13-7 lead on NMSU, the largest lead of the game for the Vandals. The Aggies would sneak a field goal of their own in with less than a minute left in the half to make it 13-10 going into the half.
The second half opened up with the Aggies finding the end-zone first on a seven yard pass play from McDonald to Franklin to make it a 17-13 advantage in favor of NMSU. The Vandals would respond back with a third field goal by Rehkow to make it 17-16, but this would be the last time Idaho would score.
Following another touchdown by NMSU in the fourth quarter, Idaho’s inability to move the ball really started to shine through. An interception by Davis in the NMSU end-zone stopped one of the most productive drives of the game, only to be followed up by stalled out drive that left Idaho high and dry on their own 45 yard line.
A bit of hope did arrive late in the quarter thanks to Idaho’s QuayShawne Buckley as he managed to block a NMSU field goal attempt late in the quarter to give Idaho one last shot at scoring. That drive sadly didn’t result in any score as Davis threw two incomplete passes at the end of the game (seven in total during the 14 play drive) and the Aggies got away with the 24-16 win.
“The defense came out and played their best game of the year,” said Petrino. “The offense didn’t. The offense didn’t play good enough.”
Davis finished the game with 250 yards on 21 of 41 passing with one touchdown and one interception. RB James Baker led all Vandal backs with 48 yards rushing and WR Najee Lovett finished with 82 yards on eight catches to lead all Vandal wide-outs.
Two of the more interesting highlights of the game come from Rehkow and wide-out turned corner Roman Runner. Rehkow recorded 40 yards rushing thanks to a trick play while Runner recorded an interception, both of which happened in the second quarter.
The loss to New Mexico State means Idaho finished the 2013 season with a record of 1-11, marking the second time in two seasons that the Vandals have only won a single game in a season and the tenth single win season in school history. Idaho joins Purdue, Florida International, Southern Miss, Massachusetts, Western Michigan and Hawaii as the only teams in the nation to finish with a single win. Only Miami (OH) and FCS-to-FBS Georgia State finished with a worse record.
Since winning the Humanitarian Bowl in 2009 and going 8-5, Idaho has a combined record of 9-39 with three consecutive 10+ loss seasons and have only had three winning seasons since moving up to Division I-A since 1997.
Idaho will join New Mexico State next season in the Sun Belt Conference.