Normally, the Cougar football team has little problem with the University of Idaho, often mistaking them for an inanimate object to be tossed aside - as in last year's 56-10 victory. But this year, the Vandals were quite animated - racking up a variety of personal fouls - in keeping the Cougars on their toes, but still getting the same end result. Wazzu again defeated Idaho in the Battle of the Palouse, this time by a score of 45-28, but it was not a game without its drama.
Sensing a vulnerable Cougar defense, the Vandals came out smoking. Idaho won the coin toss - and promptly eschewed the standard deferment of their choice until the second half as is de rigeur these days - they wanted the ball and a crack at that Cougar defense. The strategy paid off as it took Idaho a mere 92 seconds - including the kickoff return to the 43-yard line - and four plays to score their first touchdown when redshirt freshman Nathan Enderle found a wide open Max Komar for a 38-yard touchdown pass. The Cougar offense began with a fumbled snap and then a personal foul penalty of their own on offensive lineman Bobby Byrd in their first series but were able to stop Idaho in the Vandals' second series and get the ball back for the tying score - an Alex Brink to Brandon Gibson 21-yard touchdown pass.
From there, it became the proverbial track meet as the Cougars and Vandals traded scores until they were tied 21-21 midway through the second quarter, with the Cougar scores coming on a Brink TD passes of four yards to Michael Bumpus and a five-yard TD run from Dwight Tardy. Wazzu tacked on a Brink-to-Bumpus 15-yard TD pass and a 31-yard field goal from Romeen Abdollmohammadi to make it 31-21- at the half.
With seemingly half the announced crowd of 32,064 dissipating at halftime, the Cougars began the second half ominously as Tardy fumbled it away on their first possession and Abdollmohammadi missed a 32-yard field goal on their second before they finally got on the board again with a two-yard TD run from Tardy. Idaho quickly answered with a touchdown of their own and it remained a 10-point difference, at 38-28, going into the final frame.
In a back and forth fourth quarter, Wazzu was the only team able to score as Brink found Charles Dillon for a nine-yard TD pass to end the scoring for the evening and give WSU a 70-17-3 edge in the all-time series. Brink was 26-for-36 [setting a school record for career completions at 624, eclipsing Jason Gesser's 611] for 307 yards with four touchdowns and one interception while Bumpus had eight catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns and Tardy ran 22 times for 108 yards.
With the win, Wazzu completes the non-conference portion of their schedule and improves to 2-1 overall on the year as they prepare to go on the road to take on USC in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 22.
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