[Vandal] A Season Finale That's Easy To Forget

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Sun Apr 18 08:13:24 PDT 2021

>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoSunday, April 18, 2021
For Vandals, A Season Finale That's Easy To Forget
Idaho held to 84 yards in scoreless second half of loss at NAU
By Colton Clark
There’s an argument to be made whether Idaho’s spring-season football finale was unimportant in the grand scheme of things and thus, forgettable.
Either way, the Vandals probably are planning to flush most of this one from their collective memory.
Idaho was shut out in the second half Saturday and never found the end zone in a 19-9 loss to fellow Big Sky also-ran Northern Arizona at the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz.
“We didn’t execute,” said coach Paul Petrino, whose team mustered 84 yards after the break. “Bottom line.
“Honestly, I thought we played good enough defensively. We just didn’t score enough.”
The Vandals (2-4), who fell to 1-10 in BSC road games since 2018, conclude their bizarre, delayed, pandemic-racked campaign fifth in the conference.
The season’s trend of weekly aberrations persisted to the end.
Idaho platooned quarterbacks early on, divvying the reps between 6-foot-5 pro-style signal-caller Mike Beaudry and run-first Zach Borisch, a utility player who broke out under center with an exceptional ground day in a tight loss April 10 at Eastern Washington.
The rotation was employed throughout the first quarter. Beaudry wound up taking the majority of snaps thereafter.
The grad transfer began in a groove, completing 10 of his first 11 passes. >From the second series of the second quarter on, he went 9-for-21.
He totaled 212 yards through the air and was sacked four times as NAU’s typically shoddy defense dialed up effective pressure, rattling Idaho’s youthful offensive line and Beaudry, who posted 41 yards on 10 scurries out of crumbling pockets.
Borisch returned midway through the third after disappearing from the lineup for 20 minutes. He spearheaded a ground-and-pound series that ended just past midfield on a fourth-down Beaudry incompletion.
Borisch logged 78 yards on 15 carries. He had 55 yards in the first quarter, but lost a fumble on Idaho’s first play from scrimmage.
“I was trying to still use Zach for the running game. He ran well,” Petrino said. “At times, (the Lumberjacks) were putting things in there to stop that package. Mike, at times, threw the ball well. ... Both of them did some good things, but we didn’t do enough all the way around.”
The Vandals’ lethargic offense went three-and-out twice in the second half. Two other slow-burning possessions went lifeless after a first down.
As Idaho’s first-half flow depleted, NAU (3-2) gradually built upon its lead, connecting on the occasional broken-coverage chunk gainer and capping three drives with easy field goals from All-American Luis Aguilar.
A 10-point deficit with 10:50 left in the fourth felt insurmountable.
Beaudry led a last-ditch effort, sparked by a 20-yard pitch-and-catch to star Arizonan receiver Hayden Hatten, who torched his home-state foes for 135 yards on seven catches.
Beaudry was sacked twice in NAU territory, however, once on fourth down. The Lumberjacks milked the final seven minutes off the clock.
“They blitzed us and played (man coverage) on some key down and distances,” Petrino said. “There were a couple of times we beat the guys at the line and we were wide open, and either we missed or didn’t see them, or didn’t protect long enough.”
Idaho’s offense chugged along well throughout the first half, stacking up 298 yards against only 135 for NAU. Completing drives was the issue.Settling for field goals on three early series, Idaho took a 9-3 lead at 7:28 in the second quarter after a career-long 51-yard kick from Cade Coffey.
Idaho went 2-for-12 on third downs against a Lumberjack outfit that entered the game second-to-last in the BSC in total defense. On a postgame radio show, coach Chris Ball said NAU also was thin in its secondary because of contact-tracing protocols.
“We were a lot more consistent last week, honestly — driving the ball and staying on the field,” Petrino said.
“We got all kinds of yards in the first half, but we didn’t get enough points. Ultimately, that came back and hurt us.”
Beaudry and Borisch guided an 11-play, 94-yard march on Idaho’s third drive of the game, which stalled inside the 10 because of a holding penalty.
Nonetheless, Idaho found itself up 6-0 in a relatively encouraging start.
In response, ’Jacks running back Draycen Hall shed five Vandal defenders, scampering 43 yards on a dump-off pass from quarterback Keondre Wudtee (13-for-23, 244 yards). Backed up in the red zone, Idaho’s defensive front held.
Later in the second quarter, NAU punter DJ Arnson pinned the Vandals at their 2. The Lumberjack defense got Idaho off the field quickly, then tipped Coffey’s punt to set up a short touchdown pass from Wudtee to an uncovered Coleman Owen with under two minutes to go until intermission.
Idaho squandered a chance shortly after. A 34-yard catch from Hatten got Idaho in Coffey’s range, but his 34-yard try bounced off the left upright, ending the first half with NAU in front 10-9.
The Vandals’ pass defense permitted completions of 60, 43, 42, 30, and 24 yards. Hendrix Johnson pocketed 121 yards on four catches for NAU.
For unspecified reasons, Idaho didn’t play star linebackers Tre Walker and Christian Elliss — perhaps its two most talented pound-for-pound players.
Despite that, the front seven fared well, clamping down in the red zone, holding the Lumberjacks to 76 yards rushing and accumulating 11 tackles for loss.
Reserves Hogan Hatten and Derek Tommasini, a freshman from Eagle, Idaho, paced Idaho with 21 combined tackles. Fa’avae Fa’avae added 2.5 TFLs.
“It’s tough when you don’t have two of your best players, but I thought our young linebackers stepped up and played hard,” Petrino said.
So there was meaningful development for the Vandal newbies.
Ahead of a fast-approaching fall season, they’ll probably try to flush most everything else.
RUSHING: Idaho, Za. Borisch 15-78, Mi. Beaudry 10-41, Ro. Johnson 6-29, Ni. Romano 4-21. N. Arizona, Ge. Robinson 23-54, Dr. Hall 8-24, Ke. Wudtee 6-9, Team 4-(minus 4), Je. Widener 1-(minus 7).
PASSING: Idaho, Mi. Beaudry 19-32-0-212, Za. Borisch 1-1-0-1. N. Arizona, Ke. Wudtee 13-23-0-244, Je. Widener 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Idaho, Ha. Hatten 7-135, Cu. Haywood 8-53, Co. Whitney 2-21, Mi. Noil 2-3, Ro. Johnson 1-1. N. Arizona, He. Johnson 4-121, Dr. Hall 4-55, St. Chukwumezie 2-37, Br. Porter 2-29, Co. Owen 1-2.
N. Arizona 19, Idaho 9
Stars Of The Game
Arizona native HAYDEN HATTEN, a Idaho receiver, had 135 yards on seven receptions, often bailing out the Vandals’ shaky offense with athletic grabs. He pushed his six-game season totals to 613 yards on 43 receptions. Kickers CADE COFFEY and LUIS AGUILAR combined for 21 points in a game defined equally by solid defense and mediocre offense. NAU quarterback KEONDRE WUDTEE outdueled MIKE BEAUDRY. Wudtee completed passes of 60, 43, 42 and 30 yards, steering consecutive scoring drives in the fourth quarter to put Idaho away.
Turning Point
Pressure from NAU’s front forced Idaho’s listless offense into a three-and-out early in the fourth quarter — its seventh consecutive empty possession — with the Vandals trailing 16-9 and in need of a spark. Lumberjack receiver Brandon Porter broke free for a 24-yard reception and an Idaho personal foul followed, putting the hosts in Aguilar’s range. His 34-yard kick stretched the lead to 10 points, an insurmountable margin for Idaho with 10:50 left.
Up Next
The Vandals conclude their shortened, delayed spring season at 2-4. They’ll begin preparations for their traditional fall season this summer, then retake the field Sept. 4th at the Kibbie Dome against Division II opponent Simon Fraser.
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