Coach Paul Petrino said he was proud of his Idaho football team for many reasons Saturday, despite a 56-34 loss at Auburn.
“I told the players that I was really proud of them,” Petrino said. “I thought they came out and played with great effort and great toughness. ... Unfortunately, we had a couple key mistakes that let the game get a little bit away from us.”
The Vandals — with quarterbacks Matt Linehan and Jake Luton sharing time — outgained the Tigers 479-460. Tight end Trent Cowan caught 10 passes for 118 yards and wide receiver Callen Hightower grabbed eight for 161. Linehan completed 15-of-29 passes for 192 yards and Jake Luton hit 14-of-18 for 164.
Idaho did lose starting running back Elijhaa Penny to a strained knee in the first quarter, which left a committee of Aaron Duckworth, Isaiah Saunders, Luton and Linehan making up the bulk of the 150 yards on the ground.
Idaho (3-8) trailed14-10 early in the second quarter before Auburn (6-5) started to pull away. Jeremy Johnson threw for two TDs and ran for two more scores for the Tigers, who converted all six of their red-zone opportunities and scored three touchdowns off three Idaho turnovers.
“I tell them all the time if you give it everything you have as far as toughness and effort, then you should walk out of there with your head held high and be proud. And that’s how they should walk out of here,’’ Petrino said.
WEBER STATE 35, IDAHO STATE 14
OGDEN, Utah — Eric Wilkes ran for 112 yards and two TDs, Helam Heimuli caught two TD passes and the Wildcats (6-5, 5-3) beat the Bengals (2-9, 1-7) in the season finale for both teams.
Michael Sanders threw for 219 yards and two TDs for Idaho State (2-9, 1-7). He had a 14-yard TD pass to Josh Cook and found Madison Mangum for an 11-yard score.
The Bengals’ offense had 310 yards while Weber State had 454. The Bengals had only 72 on the ground while passing for 238.
“It wasn’t much of a contest. We fell apart at quarterback early in the game. All the issues we have had all season came to the forefront in the first half. We got going a bit in the second half but defensively we had shot our bullets. We were done. Weber State out played us and out coached us,’’ Idaho State coach Mike Kramer said.
“It has been a miserable season on the scoreboard, but it has been a positive season in a lot of other areas, particularly the way we are with each other in the locker room, classroom and weight room. That is all real relevant for us in the future.’’
BIG SKY ROUNDUP
Southern Utah (8-3, 7-1) beat Northern Arizona 49-41 to clinch the league title and an automatic FCS playoff berth; Montana (7-4, 6-2) beat Montana State 54-35 to enhance its playoff chances; and Portland State (9-2, 6-2) knocked off Eastern Washington 34-31 to likely earn a berth while ending a three-year playoff run for the Eagles (6-5, 5-3).
▪ The FCS playoff selection show is 9 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU.