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Idaho Vandals open with (Big Sky) victory over Montana State

Idaho running back Aaron Duckworth breaks away from Montana State’s Tre’von Strong for a touchdown during their season opener at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow.
Idaho running back Aaron Duckworth breaks away from Montana State’s Tre’von Strong for a touchdown during their season opener at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow. AP

Idaho junior quarterback Matt Linehan didn’t play as expected, and the Vandals failed to score in the second half of their opener against Montana State on Thursday night in the Kibbie Dome.

Didn’t matter.

Idaho is happy to be going to Washington on Sept. 10 with a 1-0 record.

Junior running back Aaron Duckworth ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns to help Idaho stave off a second-half charge from Montana State, winning 20-17 despite producing only a field goal after a 17-point first quarter.

The announced attendance for the season opener was 11,987.

Both of Duckworth’s scoring runs came in the first quarter, including a 43-yarder that gave the Vandals a 10-7 lead. He added a 1-yard run later in the quarter to make it 17-7.

Linehan completed only 8-of-22 passes for 128 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

Senior Austin Rehkow kicked field goals of 44 and 34 yards for the Vandals, who outgained Montana State 353-305.

“That’s the best defense we’ve played since I’ve been here,” fourth-year coach Paul Petrino said. “Our defense really stepped up. Offensively, we rushed for 225 yards. We found two ways to win. That’s the most important thing.”

Junior linebacker Tony Lashley had a team-best nine tackles, which included three for -11 yards in losses. Senior defensive lineman Tueni Lupeamanu had eight stops while senior safety Russell Siavii added three pass breakups and five tackles. Junior Defensive lineman Aikeem Coleman was a backfield menace with five quarterback hurries.

Said Lupeamanu: “That’s what we’ve been working on. I’m really proud of our defense.”

Montana State’s Jeff Choate, a former Boise State and Washington assistant under Chris Petersen, lost his head coaching debut.

Next games

▪ Idaho: at Washington, Sept. 10, 3 p.m. MT (Pac-12 Network)

▪ Idaho State: vs. Simon Fraser, Saturday in Pocatello, 2:35 p.m.

▪ College of Idaho: vs. Montana Western, Saturday in Caldwell, 1 p.m. (96.5 FM/730 AM)

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