MOSCOW — The Idaho Vandals offense had scored two touchdowns in the first two games of the season, but it matched that in the first quarter alone Saturday.
In their 45-35 loss to Northern Illinois at the Kibbie Dome, the Vandals picked up 441 yards of total offense, spreading it fairly evenly with 194 yards on the ground and 247 through the air.
Its a lot of improvement, we worked really hard during the week on the gameplan, to make sure we were executing our assignments it was a pretty good game for us, senior running back James Baker said.
Baker scored three of the Vandals touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving), while a pair of newcomers scored the other two freshman running back Richard Montgomery had a 27-yard touchdown catch, and junior quarterback Josh McCain had a 37-yard touchdown run.
The Vandals had 159 of their 194 rushing yards in the first half, incorporating some zone-read plays that took advantage of the aggressive Huskies defense.
I was surprised at what they were doing, that got us on our heels, Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey said. They came out and did some more zone-read stuff than wed seen before.
Idaho scored 16 points in its first two games to start the Paul Petrino era, but Saturdays 35-point showing was the third-best in its previous 30 games against FBS opponents.
Petrino also said with it being a new system, the team expects to continue to add more to the playbook each week.
Whats tough is when you dont have it all in, you know the adjustments to make were just not all the way there yet, there were a couple times I wanted to calls some plays but our guys just dont know them yet, Petrino said.
The announced crowd of 14,071 for the Vandals home opener took in an improved game-day experience at the Kibbie Dome with the first gameday use of the new 50-by-30 foot video board at the north end of the stadium.
Very exciting Its a different environment, Baker said.
Special teams mixed bag
Both teams missed field goals Saturday Idahos Austin Rehkow had one blocked, while Northern Illinois Mathew Sims missed a 42-yarder.
The Huskies attempted a fake field goal in the third quarter, but holder Tyler Wedel fumbled while running for the first down.
Wedel also had a punt blocked by Idahos Jacob Sannon in the fourth quarter.
News and notes
The Vandals held Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch to 152 passing yards, his lowest total since he threw for 54 yards in his first start Sept. 1, 2012, against Iowa. Northern Illinois had 11 penalties for 107 yards, the most penalties the Huskies have had in a game since Sept. 17, 2005. Rehkow averaged 49.0 yards per punt on five attempts. Idaho was 4-of-16 on third downs, and is 10-of-34 on the season. Safety Bradley Njoku had nine tackles to lead the Vandals.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_Southorn