Tag Archives: Humanitarian Bowl

Butch Otter proclaims Idaho Vandals Football Day

16 Jan

In celebration of Idaho’s spectacular Humanitarian Bowl victory, Gov. Butch Otter came to Moscow yesterday to unveil a proclamation making Jan. 23 “Idaho Vandals Football Day” throughout the state of Idaho. We were there, and have complete video coverage:

We also talked with coach Robb Akey about using the momentum from the bowl win to establish a positive direction for the program.

Finally, University of Idaho president Duane Nellis on the interplay between athletics and academics.

Good Afternoon Vandal Nation: Morning-After-H-Bowl Edition

31 Dec

BOISE — The snow is falling again on the Treasure Valley, and we’re at the Boise Airport waiting for our flight home after a wonderful weekend for Vandal sports.

To recap:

There’s news and notes aplenty, so let’s get right to them.

  • Reporters and pundits across the country are calling the Humanitarian Bowl one of the best games of the year. As CNATI.com’s C. Trent Rosecrans wrote, “The Humanitarian Bowl: exactly why I’ll never complain about too many bowl games.”

Idaho’s ‘Cardiac Kids’ find gold on Humanitarian Bowl’s blue turf

30 Dec

BOISE — For Idaho, the calculus was simple: 28 seconds to go 66 yards for a Humanitarian Bowl-tying seven points. Either that, or make the long drive back to Moscow as losers.

But the Vandals, who were picked last in the Western Athletic Conference but stunned the football world by making their first bowl in a decade, redid the math.

The result is destined to be remembered as one of the greatest games in Idaho football history.

With just eight seconds to play, quarterback Nathan Enderle found Max Komar in the end zone from 16 yards out, and the Vandals’ leading wideout made a diving catch — his first of the night — for the score. Bring out Trey Farquhar, kick the extra point to tie and head for overtime, right?

Wrong.

Coach Robb Akey asked his players what they wanted to do. The unanimous decision? Go for two.

“If my players have confidence in the play, they’re going to make it work,” Akey said. “Why make everybody wait for overtime? Let’s get it done.”

They did.

Enderle took the snap, rolled left and spotted Preston Davis back by the goalpost. The veteran shot-caller heaved a strike across the middle, straight at the sophomore wideout.

Catch. Score. Wild celebration. Penalty flags. A streaker. Pandemonium.

Four seconds and a stuffed kickoff return later, a Vandal team dubbed the “Cardiac Kids” for their last-minute heroics became the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions, defeating Bowling Green by the final score of 43-42. Idaho finishes the 2009 season with an 8-5 record.

The triumph is only the second bowl win in the history of the University of Idaho, following a 1998 victory over Southern Mississippi — also in the Humanitarian Bowl.

Many of the 26,726 fans in attendance — a heavily partisan Idaho crowd — charged the Bronco Stadium field to celebrate a comeback victory capping a comeback season. Defensive end Aaron Lavarias summed up the feeling for a team, a university and the long-suffering Vandal Nation.

“This is destiny,” he said. “Playing in our state’s capital in a stadium filled with Vandals, we were born to win this game.”

But they almost didn’t.

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Humanitarian Bowl postgame interviews

30 Dec

BOISE — We’ll consolidate our many, many Humanitarian Bowl postgame interviews with Idaho Vandals players and coaches in this post. This will be frequently updated as the night progresses and more get uploaded.

Robb Akey:

Max Komar:

Brian Reader:

Aaron Lavarias:

Shiloh Keo, Jeromy Jones and Preston Davis:

Nathan Enderle, Shiloh Keo, Mike Iupati and JoJo Dickson:

JoJo Dickson:

Miracle in Boise: Idaho 43, Bowling Green 42

30 Dec

BOISE — Unreal.

Your Idaho Vandals are the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions, defeating Bowling Green tonight in Bronco Stadium by the final score of 43-42.

The Vandals trailed by seven points with 32 seconds remaining, but put together a 66-yard, 28-second drive capped off by Max Komar’s first catch of the night — a diving completion in the end zone for the potentially-tying score.

Then the miracle: Idaho went for two.

Quarterback Nathan Enderle stepped back and tossed a strike to a wide-open Preston Davis in the back of the end zone — and there was pandemonium.

Fans stormed the field after the final whistle, as Idaho capped off a remarkable comeback season with its first bowl win since 1998.

More coming shortly.

Vandal Football Gameday: Humanitarian Bowl

30 Dec

BOISE — In a snow-covered Treasure Valley, we’re just about six hours away from Idaho’s second-ever bowl game. The Vandals will take on the Bowling Green Falcons in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl at 2:30 p.m. Mountain Time, and we’ll be right there in Bronco Stadium with the call.

After the best season in a decade, Akey’s Army wants to prove its early success was no fluke, and uphold conference pride by becoming the first Western Athletic Conference team to win a bowl game this season.

Vandal Nation Live will have all the action for you, with pregame coverage starting at 1 p.m. Pacific, 2 Mountain. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Pacific/2:30 Mountain. We’ll have scoring updates on the Vandal Nation Twitter as well.

Click here for Vandal Nation Live: The Humanitarian Bowl!

Pregame Roundup

  • Merlin Verlin’s Vandals got the bowl festivities off to a great start with a 19-point victory over Lewis-Clark State in front of 4,111 fans in Qwest Arena last night. We’ve got the game story, and Sandra Kelly of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News chimes in with her take.
  • Kelly also says to expect fireworks when the Vandals and the Falcons clash today.
  • Sports Illustrated writer Bill Trocchi breaks down the H-Bowl, predicting a 3-point Bowling Green victory in a no-defense shootout.

Blowout in Boise sends Idaho into WAC play on a high note

29 Dec

Marvin Jefferson throws down a highlight-reel jam against Lewis-Clark State.

BOISE — With the Qwest Arena clock reading 38.0, the Vandals’ Travis Blackstock grabbed a feed on the wing and launched a contested midrange jumper that didn’t seem to have a prayer.

His shot caught nothing but net.

The 4,111 fans in attendance exploded in cheers and applause for the beloved walk-on forward from nearby Kuna, as Blackstock put an exclamation point on a night that was all Idaho from start to finish. The Vandals rolled Lewis-Clark State, 71-52, in a neutral-court non-conference game that was never as close as its score would indicate. The contest was held as part of festivities for tomorrow’s Humanitarian Bowl.

Idaho, which improved to 7-4 on the eve of Western Athletic Conference play, was led by a strong showing from floor general Mac Hopson, who posted his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds on 4-10 shooting and 5-for-7 from the charity stripe. The Vandals outrebounded the Warriors, 42-32, and shot 50 percent for the game, 35 percent from beyond the arc.

“It’s always good to get a win, but in this great environment in front of a packed house, this was something special,” coach Don Verlin said. “I thought we played pretty well at times, especially defensively, and we rebounded the basketball well which is a real key.”

A near-NBA-range 3-pointer from Hopson sparked a crowd-pleasing 18-0 Vandal run early in the first half that put a quick end to any thoughts of a Warrior upset. The streak was punctuated by a two-handed fastbreak slam from Marvin Jefferson, who took a beautifully-placed feed from Steffan Johnson and jammed it home. LCSC coach Tim Walker called a timeout, but Idaho would score five more out of the break before giving up a bucket.

“I talked to Coach (Verlin) after the last couple games, he said I should try to be more aggressive about attacking the lane rather than settling for threes, and that’s what I did tonight,” Johnson said. “I have to keep developing my game week in and week out.”

Unlike Idaho’s last game against an NAIA foe, there was to be no miracle second-half comeback from the underdog this time. The period featured sloppy play all around, as LCSC was whistled for 7 fouls in the first 4 minutes while Idaho missed four of its first five shots.

After being down by as many as 20, the Warriors managed to cut the lead to 13 points with just under 7 minutes to play, backed by six straight points from forward Alex King. But they’d get no closer, as Vandal long-ball specialist Luciano de Souza drilled a dagger from downtown with five minutes left, snapping the run and putting paid to LCSC’s miracle hopes.

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Idaho 71, Lewis-Clark State 52

29 Dec

BOISE — The Vandals got the Humanitarian Bowl week off to a winning start tonight with a dominating 71-52 victory over Lewis-Clark State in Qwest Arena. Idaho, which improves to 7-4 on the season, never trailed in the game and was powered by a solid defensive effort, holding the NAIA Warriors to 30 percent shooting in the first half and 35 percent overall.

Idaho was led by 15 points from senior point guard Mac Hopson, who also grabbed 11 rebounds to post his first double-double of the season. He was joined in double figures by senior guard Steffan Johnson who had 11 points, and the best performance of the year from reserve 3-point specialist Luciano de Souza, who had 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting.

Perhaps the most promising sign of improvement came in the ball-handling department, as Idaho posted 17 assists to just 7 turnovers — by far their cleanest showing of the season.

We’ve got raw video interviews with Johnson and coach Don Verlin.

We’ll have a complete postgame report tonight.

Better Know a Foe: Bowling Green

29 Dec

BOISE — In our Humanitarian Bowl edition of Better Know a Foe, we talked with BJ Fischer of FalconBlog, which has been documenting Trials and Triumphs in the BGSU Falcon Nation since 2004 — we salute that kind of commitment to the alma mater!

We reciprocated over on FalconBlog with a Vandal Blog Swap.

Tell us about Bowling Green — football history, bowl history, etc.

Bowling Green has been playing football since 1910. During the 1950 and 60s we had a very strong program, winning the small college national title in 1959. The 70s, 80s and 90s saw on and off success, ending the decade with among the worst periods in the history of the program. Starting in 2001, the program turned around under the leadership of Urban Meyer and this continued for a couple years under his OC, Gregg Brandon. Brandon was let go last year, and replaced by Dave Clawson.

This is Bowling Green’s ninth bowl appearance, and BG is 4-4. The Falcons have won four of their last five. However, no conversation about BG’s bowl history would be complete without a couple of disaster stories. The first was in 1985 when BG was undefeated but Coach Denny Stolz took another job the week of bowl prep. Stolz, his assistants, and his entire team apparently had their mind on other things as Fresno State beat BG 51-7. Then, in 2008, BG went to Mobile for the GMAC Bowl, playing Tulsa. Despite a seemingly even matchup, BG never showed up and was beaten 63-7, the worst defeat ever in bowl history.

How do Bowling Green fans view this bowl/matchup – is it a ho-hum affair or a pretty solid game from your perspective?

Bowling Green fans are excited about being in a bowl game this year. To come off a 6-6 season with a new coach, and actually get better and earn post-season play is a nice reward for our team. I especially feel good for our seniors, who are getting the opportunity to play in a bowl game after toiling in an underachieving system.

We certainly understand that it is a “see your breath bowl” and not in a glamorous warm weather climate. (Other MAC tie-ins include Toronto and Detroit, so, you know…). We have a cohesive team and they are happy to have been able to stay together for another month to prepare for this game.

We are also looking forward to playing Idaho, which presents a nice challenge to us.

Freddie Barnes — an unreal individual performance this season. What’s he been like to watch and how key will his play be?

It has been a true honor to watch Freddie Barnes this year. I was at the Catch-22 game where he nabbed 22 passes, and it was simply an incredible performance. Obviously, teams know that we are looking to get him the ball, and yet he can still get open. He gets a lot of credit for this… he is a smart player who knows how to find open spaces against almost any defense. Also, our unheralded OC Warren Ruggerio has done a great job moving Freddie around to find him space.

One misconception people have is that Barnes is some kind of system creature. Yes, he does catch the occasional bubble screen, but most of his catches have been downfield, and he has made some huge plays, earning key first downs and touchdowns with hard running after the catch. He delivered a withering stiff arm to help spark a miracle comeback against Kent and he scored the winning TD in the last minute against Buffalo. He is a true football player.

Offensively, who are the Falcons’ playmakers and what lineups should we look for?

Well, aside from Barnes, the next key playmaker is senior QB Tyler Sheehan. Sheehan has a great senior season, and was the second best QB in the conference, after Dan LeFevour. While BG’s running game has struggled most of the year, Willie Geter is a great playmaker and can catch the ball as well. Jimmy Sheidler is dangerous at TE as well.

BG plays a lot of multi-receiver sets, however, is no longer a pure spread team. Coach Clawson says he is not a “system” guy, and will do whatever is needed to get the ball to playmakers in space, and that’s what you should look for.

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Good Morning Van-Bowl Nation: Dec. 29, 2009

29 Dec

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s Humanitarian Bowl Week in Boise and we’re staring out at N771SK, the SkyWest CRJ-700 that’ll take us on up to the Treasure Valley, so this will be a quicky. We’ll have Better Know a Foe with FalconBlog posted up this afternoon, along with a complete game preview.

Tonight at 6 p.m. Pacific, 7 Mountain, we’ll have live play-by-play coverage of Idaho hoops, as the Vandals take on Lewis-Clark State in Qwest Arena.

Then, be sure to join us tomorrow at 1 p.m. Pacific, 2 Mountain for Vandal Nation Live at the Humanitarian Bowl — Akey’s Army has one last battle to fight, against the Bowling Green Falcons out of the Mid-American Conference.

Football

  • Donald Emmons of the Toledo Blade takes a look at how the Vandals hope to stop NCAA-leading receiver Freddie Barnes.
  • ESPN.com’s Graham Watson predicts a Falcons victory, albeit by only a touchdown — 45-38. She predicts an exciting, fun-to-watch shootout between two of the nation’s top offenses.

Men’s basketball

Women’s basketball

  • Idaho’s women finally got their second win of the season last night with a stifling defensive performance at home, shutting down UC Santa Barbara for a 47-40 victory. The Vandals missed their first 20 shots from the floor but capitalized on 29 Gaucho turnovers.

It’s Bowl Week on Vandal Nation!

27 Dec

We hope our readers have had a wonderful holiday season — we certainly have.

But the break ends now, because it’s time for Idaho Vandals sports to kick back into high gear — on Tuesday, the men’s hoops team takes on Lewis-Clark State and on Wednesday, it’s Idaho’s second-ever bowl game — the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl against Bowling Green.

On the hardwood, the Vandals need to rebound from a three-game stretch of ugly and prepare for the beginning of Western Athletic Conference play. Playing LCSC would seem to be a gimme, but Merlin Verlin’s bunch nearly lost to another NAIA squad, Eastern Oregon, so there is nothing guaranteed about the neutral-court showdown.

On the Smurf Turf of Bronco Stadium, coach Robb Akey and his can-do Idaho squad can complete a miracle comeback season with a victory over Bowling Green — but to do it, the Vandals will have to dig deep defensively and get some stops against the pass, or else all-world receiver Freddie Barnes will run the Silver and Gold right out of Boise.

It’s a double dose of Vandal excitement and we’ll have all the action for you live, right here on Vandal Nation. Thanks for joining us!

Twas the night before the H-Bowl: Idaho vs. LCSC in Boise

12 Dec

The Vandal faithful will converge on Boise in a couple weeks to watch Idaho’s gridiron warriors take on Bowling Green in the Humanitarian Bowl on Dec. 30 — and now they’ll be able to catch the best Vandal hoops team in decades, too.

In a brilliant move, Idaho’s exhibition game with Lewis-Clark State, originally scheduled for Dec. 30 in Moscow, has been moved to Dec. 29 in Qwest Arena in Boise. Tip will be at 7 p.m. In the process, the game has been converted to a full-counting game for the Vandals.

Tickets are available from the Qwest Arena box office for $10-20, and season tickets will be honored. Student tickets are $8.

Good Afternoon Vandal Nation: Dec. 7, 2009

7 Dec

History was made last night in Memorial Gym, as the Vandal men knocked off #25 Portland and football coach Robb Akey stepped to the floor at halftime and announced Idaho’s acceptance of a berth in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl. It’s been a banner year for Idaho sports already, and we’re just at the halfway mark.

Here’s the links for today:

Basketball

  • The New Mexico State Aggies are having an awful season, just 1-5 against Division I opponents and staring down the barrel of two tough road games. Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News looks at the Aggies’ total lack of offense.

Football

Pilots left stunned as Idaho’s defense crushes #25 Portland

6 Dec

The Portland Pilots, the No. 25 team in the country, came to Moscow tonight for Idaho’s first-ever home showdown with a nationally-ranked non-conference opponent — and were promptly blown right back out the doors of historic Memorial Gym.

To the thundering cheers of a sellout crowd in the venerable home of Idaho basketball, the Vandals made history by destroying #25 Portland, 68-48, for Idaho’s first victory over a nationally-ranked team since 1982.

Idaho improved to 5-2, the team’s best start since the 1989-90 season, while the Pilots fell to 5-3.

The victory came in an unorthodox — and for coach Don Verlin, heartening — way: with punishing lockdown defense. The Pilots, who came into this game as one of the nation’s top shooting teams, were comprehensively shut down, making just 19 of 59 shots from the field — an abysmal .322 performance.

“That’s as good defensively as we’ve played all year for that length of time,” Verlin said. “It’s a credit to our guys.”

The stat lines are stunning: guard T.J. Campbell, the Pilots’ leading scorer with 16.7 points on .554 shooting, was held to an awful 1-for-11 shooting for 3 points. Big man Robin Smeulders, a 63.3-percent shooter averaging 13.3 points, was just 1-for-6 with 2 points while turning the ball over 3 times. A team that came in shooting 42 percent from downtown made just 6 of 22 3-point attempts — 27.3 percent.

“We’re happy about this win because we did it on the defensive end and that’s where we were lacking,” Idaho point guard Mac Hopson said. “Coach said that’s what he wanted from us, was to shut them down, and we just listened this time. We stopped their top threats and got the W.”

Right from the opening tip-off, it was clear the Vandals wanted to establish dominance early. Idaho made its first three shots in a row — including a crowd-pleasing dunk by center Marvin Jefferson — while the Pilots missed their first six attempts from the floor.

The real damage was done midway through the first half. With 10 minutes to play in the opening period, a 4-0 run from the Pilots cut Idaho’s lead to 3 points, and the momentum seemed to be all on the visitors’ side. But reserve point guard Marcus Lawrence stepped up and canned a wide-open trey from the corner, and the rout was on.

Idaho would go on to score 10 more points in the next 5 minutes — while Portland combined to go 1-for-6 with 5 turnovers and a bench technical foul. Ethan Niedermeyer snapped the run with a 3-pointer, but Luciano de Souza ignited the gym by returning the favor from downtown. That would be the game’s theme — every time the Pilots looked to have something going, the Vandals struck back and reignited the crowd.

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Good Morning Vandal Nation: Dec. 1, 2009

1 Dec

It’s yet another Vandal Gameday morning here in Moscow, as Idaho’s women are set to begin an epic four-game non-conference homestand with a contest against the Mountain West’s Colorado State Rams. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Memorial Gym, and we’ll have all the action for you on Vandal Nation Live, with pregame starting at 6:30.

It’s been officially announced: Sunday’s game between #25 Portland and our Idaho Vandals will be in Memorial Gym. We strongly urge students to pick up their hard tickets ASAP, because seating is very limited and they’ll go fast. Stop at the Kibbie Dome ticket office and show your card to get yours. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — the last time a nationally-ranked non-conference team traveled to Idaho was in 1963.

Now for the links:

Basketball

  • The Spartans put up a valiant fight against WCC powerhouse Saint Mary’s, but couldn’t quite seal the deal. Still, it’s another sign of improvement in San Jose. Spartan Hoops has the story.

Football

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