Coming off a bye week, a banged up Idaho football team traveled to arguably the toughest conference in the nation to face SEC opponent Ole Miss Saturday in Oxford. The Rebels beat third-string quarterback Taylor Davis and the Vandals 59-14 with big plays on offense and steady pressure on defense.
“A butt kicking, I don’t know what else we take away — a check to pay the bills,” said Idaho coach Paul Petrino on what the Vandals take away from the loss. “We just have to show up tomorrow, work hard and get better.”
After falling behind early 17-0 in the first quarter, the Vandals had a surge in the second quarter. A 42-yard pass from Davis to running back James Baker early in the second quarter put Idaho on the Ole Miss 18-yard line. Three more runs by Baker set up Idaho on the 2-yard line where Davis ran in untouched for a touchdown on a bootleg play.
The momentum continued with a good defensive stand highlighted by a 14-yard sack by senior linebacker Matthew Willis on the next Ole Miss drive giving Idaho the football back with great field position after an Ole Miss punt. The Vandals started out on their opponent’s 30-yard line and with a steady dose of James Baker, made it all the way to the Rebels’ 10. But a third down incompletion intended for wide receiver Dezmon Epps and a missed 27-yard field goal attempt by Austin Rehkow that hit the upright left the Vandals with no points on the drive.
“That was bad, we had a nice punt return … we had a third down throw and their safety just broke on the ball a little better than Dez stepped to it,” Petrino said. “Their guy broke on it better than us so then we kicked a field goal and we missed it.”
Epps was one bright spot for a Vandal team that struggled both offensively and defensively against the now 5-3 Rebels. Of Idaho’s 253 yards of total offense, Epps had 89 — more than twice as many as the next Vandal.
A huge chunk of those yards came on a 62-yard touchdown pass from Davis late in the third quarter. Epps caught the ball despite pass interference by the Rebel defender. The touchdown and successful PAT brought the score to 38-14 Ole Miss.
“That was a good play, It was a good play by Dez. I thought he did some good things today,” Petrino said. “He’s been one of our bright spots this year. I think he’s going to be a really good player by next year.”
Ole Miss followed the Vandals huge score with a big play of its own. On their next drive, Rebel running back I’Tavius Mathers ran 64 yards for a score. It was all Ole Miss after that as the Rebels added on two more scores in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
The Vandals return to the Kibbie Dome next week to face Texas State at 2 p.m. on Saturday for Dad’s Weekend.