Tag Archives: Max Komar

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.

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

Kaepernick’s Pistol barrage guns down Idaho

24 Oct

RENO, Nev. — Colin Kaepernick and Nevada shot up Idaho today, as the Vandals simply couldn’t find an answer to the Wolf Pack’s potent Pistol offense.

Idaho was routed, 70-45, by a Nevada squad that put on a 662-yard offensive show for its Homecoming crowd in Mackay Stadium.

The Wolf Pack (4-3, 3-0 WAC) scored early and often, jumping out to a 21-0 lead with nearly 14 minutes left in the first half. Nevada took it to the house four times on plays of 35 yards or longer, including an 89-yard dash by running back Vai Taua.

“Speaking for the defense, we just got outplayed,” defensive end Aaron Lavarias admitted. “We can’t give up 70 points and expect our offense to take care of it.”

Idaho (6-2, 3-1 WAC) tried mightily to make a game of it, racking up 24 points in the second quarter. Quarterback Nathan Enderle tossed a pair of 73-yard touchdown passes to Maurice Shaw, bookending a 59-yard touchdown run by Deonte Jackson.

The period was capped off by a career-long 54-yard field goal from Trey Farquhar. That kick put Farquhar third on the Vandals’ all-time longest FG list and left Idaho trailing Nevada by just four points, 28-24, at halftime.

Vandal wide receiver Max Komar, who pulled down a career-high three touchdown passes to go with 136 yards, said Enderle went to a no-huddle offense that picked apart the Wolf Pack’s porous secondary.

“Just like what we did to Colorado State, our two-minute drill caught them off-guard,” Komar said.

Idaho’s onside kick attempt to open the second half went awry, giving the Wolf Pack a short field. Even then, the Vandal defense appeared to have made a crucial stand in holding Nevada to a fourth-and-7 at the Idaho 35.

But in a city of casinos, coach Chris Ault went all-in. Instead of settling for a field goal, Kaepernick kept the ball and scampered through a shattered Idaho defense into the end zone. His 35-yard touchdown run put the Wolf Pack up by 11 and Idaho would never threaten again.

“We had some momentum and (the onside kick) was something I felt would give us the chance to win,” Idaho coach Robb Akey said. “We were being aggressive. If I want the players to attack, I have to be just as aggressive.”

That score by Kaepernick was the first of seven consecutive touchdowns Nevada would score on a demoralized Vandal defense. The Pack’s speedy quarterback finished the game with 230 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and 178 yards and two more scores through the air.

“As a defense, we needed to take care of No. 10 (Kaepernick),” Akey said. “It looked to me like No. 10 could have been a Heisman Trophy winner today, he played his tail off and my hat’s off to him. He outplayed us.”

The Vandals’ defensive weaknesses were ruthlessly exposed throughout the game. Kaepernick and Taua were routinely able to pick up five or more yards on first down, as the Pistol’s misdirection befuddled Idaho’s front line. A flurry of missed tackles only compounded the misery for a Vandal defensive unit that had been ranked second in the Western Athletic Conference against the run.

“We didn’t tackle (Kaepernick), we didn’t tackle Taua, we had Nevada backed up and they run an iso play 900 yards for a touchdown,” Akey said.

Though the loss dropped Idaho out of the WAC lead, Akey was unbowed and even defiant. He reminded the assembled press of how far the Vandals have already come this season, in a turnaround that has sportswriters across the nation talking about the third-year coach as a Coach of the Year candidate.

“There is everything still to play for and this football team can still accomplish everything we want to,” Akey said. “If we win the rest of our football games we still have a chance to be WAC champions. Everyone out there, you all told us we didn’t have a chance to do that. You all didn’t give us a chance to win any of these games.”

Komar echoed Akey’s words.

“We can’t let this ruin our season,” Komar said. “We’re still 6-2, Vandal Nation hasn’t seen a 6-2 team in so long and we’re not going to give up. Tomorrow we’ll watch film, see what we did wrong and put this game behind us.”

Cornerback Isaac Butts went down clutching his leg while trying to chase down Taua’s first-quarter touchdown run, and did not return to the game. Akey said he suffered a hamstring injury that may keep him out for an extended period.

“It doesn’t look good,” Akey said. “I’m concerned about next week.”

The Vandals return to Moscow tonight, where they’ll play three of their final four games. On Saturday, Louisiana Tech will visit the Kibbie Dome for Idaho’s Homecoming. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Good Afternoon Vandal Nation: Oct. 16, 2009

16 Oct

Vandal Gameday is tomorrow!

Our usual morning post is slightly late today because we were attending the inauguration of the University of Idaho’s 17th president, M. Duane Nellis. Any ceremony that concludes with a rousing rendition of the Idaho fight song, complete with a stage party in academic regalia pumping their fists to I-D-A-H-O, is well worth our time. Congratulations to President Nellis.

Midterms got in the way of our midseason report card on the defense, but we’ll make sure to get it up this afternoon. We’ll also have our Better Know a Foe conversation with Honolulu Advertiser columnist Ferd Lewis. continue our Western Athletic Conference hoops preview countdown and preview all four of tomorrow’s WAC gridiron battles.

Remember that we’ll have an interactive play-by-play liveblog/chat from Saturday’s Vandals/Warriors game beginning at 1:15 p.m. You can also get live scoring updates from our Twitter.

Football

Men’s basketball

Idaho Vandals Midseason Report Card: Offense

14 Oct

It’s midterms time in Moscow — and not just in the classroom. With six games in the books and six to go, Vandal Nation is going to undertake the time-honored tradition of grading out the Vandal football team halfway through its season.

Today, the offense goes under the microscope. Tomorrow, we’ll examine the defense and on Friday, we’ll take a red pen to special teams and coaching. We’ll also form an overall grade, with comments from coach Robb Akey and defensive coordinator Mark Criner.

Quarterbacks: B+

This would have been an A- before Nathan Enderle’s three-pick night in San Jose, in which he doubled his interception count for the year. Even so, Enderle is having a career season and, with Hawaii’s Greg Alexander going down to an injury, he’s likely to trail only Boise State signal-caller Kellen Moore in passing yards and efficiency.

When Enderle throws to his strengths — bullet slants and mid-range lasers — he’s shown leadership ability and star quality. He still needs to improve his decision-making. Enderle too often attempts to complete risky thread-the-needle passes and has chucked up some desperation throwaways instead of taking a safe sack. Still, he looks better and is playing smarter than last year. Plus, as shown at San Jose, backup Brian Reader is ready and able to take charge if things go upside down.

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Good Morning Vandal Nation: Oct. 13, 2009

13 Oct

Brrrrr… the weather outside says it’s getting to be basketball season on the Palouse. Hoops practice begins Friday.

Posting will be a bit sporadic today — we’ve got a couple big interviews to work on.

But as always, here’s your morning dose of Western Athletic Conference news and notes.

Football

  • I’ve got a feature story on Max Komar, a kid who started as a walk-on, endured the years of futility and is now the leading receiver on a winning football team. Click here for the Web-only unedited Q&A.
  • Vandal defensive back linebacker Tre’Shawn Robinson was officially reprimanded by the WAC after being ejected from the SJSU game for throwing a punch. ESPN.com’s Graham Watson has the story.

Men’s basketball

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Good Morning Vandal Nation: Oct. 9, 2009

9 Oct

It’s everyone’s favorite WAC wake-up call, and this Friday day-before-gameday edition is chock-full-o-links. But first, a few housekeeping items.

Vandal Nation will have a reduced posting schedule this weekend. I will be out of state to celebrate the life of my grandmother, and necessarily my attention is focused on personal matters.

We’ll have complete WAC game previews this afternoon, and we will try to have a Vandal Gameday post tomorrow morning, with perhaps a quick game recap in the evening. Better Know a Foe will take the week off.

With hoops practice set to start next week, our Western Athletic Conference basketball preview coverage will begin in earnest. This weekend, we’ll round out our hoops class rankings by looking at the league’s top freshmen. We’ll reveal our Preseason All-WAC ballot on Monday and begin a daily Preview Countdown in predicted order of finish, from worst to first.

Remember, it’s Vandal Spirit Friday, so wear your Vandal gear!

Let’s get to the links:

Football

Men’s basketball

  • As we reported last night, Idaho’s home rivalry game against Boise State on Jan. 25 will be nationally televised on ESPNU.

Women’s soccer

Volleyball

Vandal Spotlight: Max Komar

8 Oct
Courtesy UI Athletics

Max Komar

From walk-on to stand-out, wide receiver Max Komar has exploded to the forefront of the Idaho Vandals’ receiving corps in 2009-10.

In the first five games of his senior season, Komar, who hails from Auburn, Wash., leads the Vandals with 25 receptions for 408 yards and two touchdowns — nearly matching his career best of 445 before the year is even half-finished. Add in a couple kick returns and Komar has racked up 510 all-purpose yards, the most of any Vandal.

In the Vandals’ victory over Colorado State last Saturday, a game where Idaho’s rushing attack was mostly blunted, Komar came up huge — “Mad Max in the Thunderdome” wouldn’t be much of an overstatement. He led all players with 12 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown, setting a career-high in yardage.

We sat down with Max to talk about his breakout performances this season, the changes he’s seen through a 5-year tenure with the Idaho program and what’s behind the team’s unexpected surge to the front of the Western Athletic Conference pack.

You put in a career performance against the Rams when the team needed it most.

Yeah, my coaches told me before the game that I needed to step up with Daniel Hardy being out from an injury — he’s one of our better players on the offensive side. Coming in to the game I had this feeling that it would be a career night. I had all my friends and family from back home and I wanted to put on a good show.

I just got into a groove with Nate (Enderle). He kept finding me because I kept getting open and he kept throwing me the ball. In the second half we went to that two-minute, no-huddle offense and that helped a lot because we threw the ball on almost every play. That gave me a lot of opportunities to make catches. It was an amazing feeling out there, I looked up at the end of the game and thought ‘Wow, I had 12 catches?’ It didn’t really feel like that many, I thought it was 7 or 8.

What did it mean to you to be able to step up in that situation?

Being a senior, for me it’s about continuing to be better throughout my whole career. During the season I’ve seen myself keep improving. Against Washington, I set a career record with 111 yards. Now I beat that with 152. It’s nice to see that hard work and the time I spent perfecting my routes and working with Nate, it’s all paying off.

What was it like walking into the Dome and seeing it totally packed to the gills?

Wow, that was an amazing feeling. I want to thank our fans for that, I haven’t seen it like that in here for the four years I’ve been here, except for maybe Boise State. Seeing that for a regular season game is so great. It definitely helps us, you know. Colorado State had two or three offsides on offense and we’d like to thank our fans for making that happen. It’s a great feeling to represent your university in front of all those fans and make them proud. They’ve been waiting for a team to start winning games.

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Idaho finds redemption in the Dome

5 Oct

Nick Groff/Argonaut
Under the venerable arch of the Kibbie Dome, thousands of Idaho fans flooded the field Saturday night, joining Vandal players and coaches in turning the turf black.

The scoreboard read Vandals 31, Rams 29 — and the brutal years of futility, frustration and failure were being erased in one spontaneous moment of collective catharsis. As Vandal Nation celebrated together, a whole generation of students were learning to be proud of Idaho football again.

A sellout crowd of 16,000 (and a national television audience on ESPNU) had just witnessed the Vandals methodically claw back from a 14-point first quarter deficit to edge a 3-1 Colorado State squad that had stomped Nevada and Colorado and fallen just short at nationally-ranked BYU.

All had looked lost early on, after junior quarterback Nathan Enderle threw an interception in the end zone to set up the Rams’ first score, and a long punt return minutes later gave Colorado State perfect field position to go up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. After putting together a 3-1 start, the team’s best in its FBS history, the Vandals appeared to be reverting to form. The college football punditry would, no doubt, have had a field day. “Idaho was a fluke,” they’d say. “It’s going to be another awful season in Moscow.”

Their skepticism is understandable. As one forum wag wrote, last year’s Idaho team “folded like a tent” at the slightest sign of adversity. Small early deficits routinely became blowout losses as the Vandals would go into panic mode — fumbling, throwing interceptions and generally looking more like a high school junior varsity squad than a team competing at the highest level of collegiate sports.

But this isn’t last year’s Idaho team.

Continue reading

Good Morning Vandal Nation: Oct. 5, 2009

5 Oct

Another day breaks in Moscow, and the college football world is beginning to realize that Idaho football is no joke, no fluke and no pushover.

The Vandals pulled down two WAC Football Player of the Week awards for the first time ever — defensive back Shiloh Keo and kicker Trey Farquhar were named defensive and special teams Player of the Week, respectively.

Football

Women’s soccer

Enderle goes aerial as Vandals upend Rams, 31-29

3 Oct

A capacity crowd stormed the Kibbie Dome field tonight after junior quarterback Nathan Enderle led the Idaho Vandals to a stirring comeback victory over Colorado State, 31-29. With the win, Idaho improved to 4-1 on the season — its best start since 1994.

The Vandals fell behind the Rams 14-0 after Enderle threw an interception in the end zone on the Vandals’ first drive. Idaho went into the locker room trailing by 10. But on the opening drive of the second half, Enderle engineered a length-of-the-field drive in just 90 seconds, finishing with a 45-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Eric Greenwood. That brought Idaho within a field goal, and swung the game momentum for good.

“It really shows growth as a team for us to come back from behind like that,” Enderle said.

On the game, Enderle threw for 333 yards on 25-for-38 passing, three touchdowns and one interception.

Safety Shiloh Keo sealed the game by intercepting Ram quarterback Grant Stucker with 1:04 left to play. Keo also made two key special teams plays — stopping a two-point conversion try which would have tied the game and downing a Colorado State onside kick attempt.

“The first half was a struggle, but in the second half we decided to let loose and just rip on their secondary,” Greenwood said. “(The interception) wasn’t the best way to start a game, but we weren’t feeling too down because we saw that we could drive down on them.”

Greenwood, who hauled in six catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns, said the victory is a signal to the college football world, and to the 16,000 Vandal fans who packed the Dome: Idaho is for real.

“I’m tired of hearing about nothing but Boise State,” he said. “The fans deserve this. They came out, they have a lot of faith in us and we wanted to reward them.”

Wideout Max Komar pulled down a touchdown of his own, to go with a career-high 152 yards on 12 catches.

We’ll have much more in the morning. Check back!

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