Idaho has become a more competitive team over the past month, until things go bad. Then it gets really bad, really fast.
The Vandals jumped out to a 24-point first-half lead Saturday, then South Alabama (4-4, 2-2 Sun Belt) went on a second-half scoring rampage en route to a 52-45 victory.
Idaho (3-6, 2-4) was hurt in the second half by the Jaguars’ 100-yard kickoff return, a blocked punt and a lost fumble returned for a 57-yard TD.
Two weeks ago, in a 55-48 loss at New Mexico State, the Vandals blew a 23-point lead.
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The Vandals have given up 107 points in their past two games, including 93 after halftime.
“Just really can’t believe it, to be honest with you,’’ Idaho coach Paul Petrino said. “Man, I think everybody sees how much better we are. The program’s on the right track. We’re getting ready to really be a really good football team but to have two games in a row two weeks like that, it’s a little sad.’’
Idaho scored two of the final three TDs on Matt Linehan runs of 11 and 1 yards. Linehan, who threw for 317 yards and two TDs, scored the 1-yarder with 1:22 left, but the onside kick failed.
Elijhaa Penny rushed for 135 yards and two TDs for the Vandals, and Deon Watson caught seven passes for 109 yards and two TDs. Idaho outgained the Jaguars 494-400.
South Alabama quarterback Cody Clements threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two scores.
Idaho hosts Appalachian State (7-2, 4-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday. before traveling to Auburn (4-4) on Nov. 21. Appalachian State is coming off a 40-27 loss to Arkansas State (6-3, 5-0).
MONTANA 33, IDAHO ST. 27 (OT)
POCATELLO — JR Nelson pounced on a bad snap in OT and tossed the ball to Eric Johnson, who raced 40 yards for a TD as No. 22 Montana (5-4, 4-2) escaped Idaho State (2-7, 1-5) with a Big Sky win.
Montana held a 24-13 lead after three quarters, but Idaho State rallied with a pair of fourth-quarter scores to take a 27-24 lead, but Daniel Sullivan forced OT with a 26-yard field goal at 5:43.
The Bengals won the OT coin toss but Montana turned the ball over on a Makena Simis (Capital High) fumble. Idaho State attempted a 27-yard field goal to win the game, but the snap sailed wide right and Nelson won a footrace for the loose ball.
EASTERN OREGON 21, COLLEGE OF IDAHO 10
LA GRANDE, Ore. — Colby Brown, getting his first start of the season at running back, rushed for 141 yards, but the Yotes (3-8, 3-7 Frontier) were turned away by the Eastern Oregon (4-7, 4-6) defense six times inside the Mountaineers 30, getting just one field goal.
C of I opened the scoring on its second drive, taking advantage of a 30 mph tailwind to march 45 yards in seven plays. A.J. Martin (Idaho Falls High) bowled in from 3 yards for the 7-0 lead.
After an Eastern Oregon punt, a 34-yard run from Brown, the longest of the season by the Coyotes, set up a 28-yard field goal from Hartvig Bondo.
Eastern Oregon, scoreless in the first quarter, scored the game’s final 21 points as the Coyotes were outgained 342-266.
Teejay Gordon was 15-of-29 for 117 yards and two interceptions in the loss, with Tyler Higby (Borah High) catching seven passes for 49 yards.
The C of I closes out its season Saturday with a home game against Carroll College (noon at Simplot Stadium).