MOSCOW, Idaho - MOSCOW, Idaho – Taylor Davis sparked what had been a puzzlingly lethargic University of Idaho football team but, in the end, the effort of the Vandals' junior quarterback and his teammates wasn't enough to overcome a hot start by UT-San Antonio and the Roadrunners escaped the Kibbie Dome with a 34-27 Western Athletic Conference victory.
Interim head coach Jason Gesser said it was clear what went wrong as the Vandals bade farewell to the 19 seniors who played their final game at the Kibbie Dome.
"It's not rocket science," said Gesser as he surveyed the stat sheet in his hand. "We gave them every opportunity and they took advantage of it. We had 12 penalties. We had three fumbles – two of them lost. Another pick. Missed assignments on defense; missed tackles.
"We talked all week long about we can beat ourselves – and we did. UTSA is a great team; a great program."
The final miscue was a muffed punt with 2:28 left in the game and the Vandals within striking distance at 34-27. But, UTSA was able to pick up a key first down and run out the clock to improve to 7-4 (2-3 in the WAC), while the Vandals dropped to 1-10 (1-4).
"It's not about one play. It's not about one thing here, one thing there," Gesser said. "It's about a combination of things."
And it started at the beginning of the game. Gesser said it was difficult to figure out the mood of the team as it prepared for its home finale. It was puzzling flat; uninspired.
"The whole beginning of the game was kind of blah," he said. "It wasn't a juiced, energized team."
By the time the first half ended, the Vandals were in a 20-3 hole and weren't showing the verve that would lead to a belief that the second half would be different. A halftime conversation pinpointing the foibles of the first 30 minutes led to an inspired, confident team in the second half.
"I said, ‘It's going to be a tale of two halves,' " said Gesser, whose prediction was right.
After gaining just 152 yards in the first half, the Davis-led comeback tallied 317 second-half yards of which 317 were on his 15-of-23 passing for three touchdowns. His favorite target of the evening was senior receiver Mike Scott, who pulled in career bests in receptions (10) and yards (116), and was on the receiving end of two of Davis' TD throws.
Punter Bobby Cowan, a quarterback in high school, averaged 50 yards on his two kicks but also converted a 64-yard pass to Camryn Harris that ultimately led to a 22-yard field goal by Trey Farquhar. Farquhar was solid on the night with a 51-yard field goal to go with the 22-yarder. He was inches wide on a 53-yard attempt and only a yard shy on a boomer from 59 yards.