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Idaho Outlasts Weather and South Alabama

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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On a wacky day in South Alabama, fans certainly got all they paid for as their day was full of exciting football.

On a wacky day in South Alabama, fans certainly got all they paid for as their day was full of exciting football. The ballgame started at 2 pm, but was delayed for 3 hours. Not only that, but the game went into overtime and the fans got some extra football.
South Alabama was seemingly in control early, but didn't take advantage of opportunities to take a big lead. Troubles continued for the Jaguars as they had many big plays, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns, called back due to defensive penalties.

With all that being said, the Jaguars were still in control of the game late and had many chances to win. But as South Alabama kept Idaho hanging around, confidence was built for the Vandals as the game went on and their playmakers came on strong in the game's biggest moments.

The scoring got started early, but that wasn't a sign of what the rest of the day would be like. The game started with an Idaho fumble on their first drive, in their own territory, which South Alabama recovered on the 28. Working with a short field, the Jaguars scratched and clawed their way to an 8 play, 28 yard touchdown drive to open the scoring. South Alabama running back Xavier Johnson did the dirty work with a 2 yard touchdown run to put the Jaguars up 7-0.

Idaho then looked to clean things up, but it instead become a deja vu drive for Idaho. South Alabama's Jeremy Reaves forced an Idaho fumble, which the Jaguars recovered. This was Reaves' 7th forced fumble of his career, making him the new leader in South Alabama's history in that right. Even with the momentum and energy of that turnover, the Jaguars could not capitalize and ended up punting the ball back to Idaho.

Idaho was able to buckle down and hold onto the football on their next drive, marching their way into South Alabama territory effectively. The Vandals made it to the Jaguar 11 yard line before the drive stalled and they had to settle for points. Cade Coffey made a 36 yard field goal to get the Vandals on the board midway through the 1st quarter.

South Alabama would go on to match Idaho's field goal drive with a march down the field that mirrored the Vandals'. The Jaguars made their way down the field methodically with a 12 play, 58 yard drive that almost ran down the rest of the 1st quarter. The Idaho defense held it's own once the Jaguars made it into the redzone and South Alabama's Gavin Patterson drilled a 34 yard field goal to bring it back to a 7 point lead.

The Vandals made the next possession feel like they were trying to beat the clock, even though it was only the 1st quarter. With the 1st quarter coming to a close, Idaho's Jacob Sannon hauled in a miraculous 39 yard reception with 2 Jaguars in coverage to bring Idaho down to the South Alabama 22 yard line. This would bring the 1st quarter to a close, the Jaguars leading 10-3, but the Vandals marching into scoring territory.

The next sequence of events was extremely interesting, but very fun to watch. Idaho would take the ball down to the USA 2 yard line, but on a big reception, Alfonso Onunwor was hit and fumbled. South Alabama would hop on the fumble, but their next drive was very quick and not for a good reason. With the Jaguars looking to get out of their own territory, Idaho's Christian Ellis came up with a big interception, the first of his career, and took it back into the redzone. A few plays later, Idaho's Aaron Duckworth found his way into the endzone with a 6 yard touchdown run, tying the game up at 10  early in the 2nd quarter.

After swapping possessions and punting each other in deep in their territory, South Alabama finally found some traction on a drive late in the 2nd quarter. The Jaguars started at their own 20 yard line with 2:16 left in the half, but worked the 2 minute drill to near perfection and got into scoring territory. With 10 seconds left in the first half, South Alabama couldn't find their way into the endzone, but Gavin Patterson made a 24 yard field goal to give the Jaguars a 13-10 lead going into halftime.

The first half saw a very balanced attack from both teams each having 85 yards through the air, although South Alabama outgained the Vandals on the ground 124-72 and held the advantage on the scoreboard at the break. Hopefully both teams enjoyed their first half on offense, because the 2nd half was a completely different story.

South Alabama went 3 and out in their first possession of the 2nd half, failing to add onto their lead. Idaho would get the ball and immediately start marching down the field, looking for their first lead of the game. But as the Vandals moved into scoring territory, South Alabama intercepted an Idaho pass and took it back for 6, or so they thought. The play was negated due to a roughing the passer penalty, and Idaho gave a collective sigh of relief. This relief wouldn't last long, though. Idaho made their way to the Jaguar 2 yard line, but there was no settling for a field goal this time. The Vandals went for it on fourth down but he Jags defense held up and turned Idaho over on downs.

South Alabama wasn't able to do anything with the next possession, leading to another punt. Late in the 3rd quarter, Idaho began moving down the field again, looking for the tying field goal or the go-ahead touchdown. As Idaho moved into Jaguar territory once again, for the second straight drive a game changing touchdown was called back by a penalty. Amazingly, once again, South Alabama came up with an interception that they took back to the house, only to be negated due to a defensive holding penalty. Idaho retained the ball at the Jaguar 30 yard line.

The drive for Idaho would ultimately stall and they were forced to make another huge decision as they stared down a 4th and 1 from the Jags' 30. The Vandals would elect to go for it once again, only to be stopped by a broken up pass off of play action. South Alabama's offense might have been keeping Idaho in the game but the defense was doing all they could to make things happen. Disappointingly enough for the defense, Idaho would force another South Alabama punt on their next possession.

As an impending storm rolled into view, Idaho was doing all they could to get a score. Matt Linehan started making huge plays for the Vandals as they went down the field on the next possession. Looking to pass, but forced outside the pocket, Linehan took a run for 20 yards. Then, he tossed it 36 yards down field and completed the pass to Onunwor to make it back to the South Alabama 25 yard line. After an incomplete pass, Idaho was faced with a 4th and 2 from the 18, but this time they took the points. Coffey came on and drilled the 34 yard field goal to tie the game midway through the 4th.

After taking a shot to the gut, South Alabama got the ball back, but once again wasn't able to do anything with it. With 8:43 to go in the game, the Jaguars punted it down to the Idaho 14. But instead of a Idaho possession, what came next was the lightning and this would result in a 3 hour delay.

Weirdly enough, it didn't look like the delay affected either team in a large way. If anything, it might have helped the offenses a little bit, as this one was headed for an exciting finish.

Idaho stumbled when play resumed from their own 14 yard line and was forced to punt. Like the start of the game, South Alabama made Idaho pay for a slow start. After only 2 plays, Xavier Johnson found open space once again and took it 34 yards for the touchdown. Following the PAT, the Jaguars took a 20-13 lead with 5 minutes to go in the game.

Idaho couldn't get going on the next drive and was running out of time. They decided to punt and pinned South Alabama on their own 13 yard line with 3 minutes to go. The Jaguars proceeded to try and run the clock down as much as they could and looked like they had a first down to seal it, but another penalty brought back their first down play. Idaho then was able to stop the Jaguars on 3rd and 7 and force a punt with 1:40 to go.

Following the punt and a 13 yard return, Idaho would set up shop on their own 39 yard line. Matt Linehan then went on to engineer a beautiful drive for the Vandals. It started with an incompletion, followed by a 12 yard pass to Onunwor for a first down and he continued the magic from there. The Vandals drove their way down to the USA 10 yard line, where Linehan would finish off the timely touchdown drive with a 10 yard strike to Onunwor. Following the PAT, we were back tied up at 20 and with only 13 seconds left, this game was headed to overtime.

Overtime was owned by the defenses. Idaho took offense first. Some might have expected a lot of momentum coming from their game-tying drive, but instead it was the Jaguar defense who came out swinging. Linehan couldn't get anything going as had an incomplete pass, was sacked by Tyree Turner and Middleton and ran for 10 yard gain on 3rd and 17. Luckily, this got the Vandals back into field goal range. Cade Coffey hit the 39 yarder and it was South Alabama's turn to take the field, needing a touchdown to win.

Instead, the Jaguars came onto the field with the same kind of woes. South Alabama got it to 2nd and 1 but then the Vandal defense turned back Tra Minter for a loss of 3. On 3rd and 4, the Jaguars went back to the ground with Denzel Foster but lost another yard. Following an Idaho timeout to ice the kicker, Gavin Patterson made the 38 yard field goal to force a 2nd overtime.

With the format flipped, the Jaguars took the field on offense again and the Idaho defense came up big once again. Xavier Johnson found 4 yards in the run game on 1st down, but was bottled up on 2nd and 6. On a 3rd and 6, another killer penalty struck South Alabama. This time, a substitution infraction that pushed them back to 3rd and 11 from the Idaho 26. Dallas Davis' pass fell incomplete and Gavin Patterson trotted out for another field goal try. Patterson, so reliable throughout the game, went on to miss the 43 yard field goal.

Idaho took the field knowing they only needed a field goal, but they didn't settle for that. The Vandals were bottled up for the first 2 plays, but on 3rd and 9 Isaiah Saunders took what is normally considered the conservative call on 3rd and long and ran 22 yard to the South Alabama 2 yard line. Although it looked bleak for the Jaguars, Idaho still needed to finish it off. They did so on the next play as Saunders powered the 2 yards for the game winning touchdown.


Written by: P.J. Zucco, Southern Pigskin Contributor