Idaho Blows 30-7 Leads, NMSU Snaps Nation's Longest Losing-Strea - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Idaho Blows 30-7 Leads, NMSU Snaps Nation's Longest Losing-Streak

Idaho drops to 3-5 on the season and 2-3 in Sun Belt Conference play after overtime loss to New Mexico State. Idaho drops to 3-5 on the season and 2-3 in Sun Belt Conference play after overtime loss to New Mexico State.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The Idaho Vandals didn’t need ghouls and goblins to wreck their Halloween. New Mexico State did it for them with a 55-48 overtime victory in a Sun Belt Conference game at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

NMSU had the ball first in overtime and, after completing a 23-yard pass on fourth down, scored two plays later on Rose’s two-yard run.

Idaho quarterback Matt Linehan was sacked for a one-yard loss on first down in the Vandals’ overtime period and was intercepted by Terrill Hanks on second down to end the game.

It marked the end of a game during which the Vandals frequently appeared in control.

“We were up by 14 points with five minutes to go,” coach Paul Petrino said after the Vandals fell to 3-5 and 2-3. “We should have won the game. … But, give them credit.”

Idaho controlled the first half before the Aggies started to pick up one big play after another offensively, and found ways to slow a Vandal offense that dominated the first half.

“ Bottom line is you can’t lose that game,” Petrino said. “We were ahead by way too much way too many times.

“You have to fight. You have to keep fighting and find a way to win.”

The outcome overshadowed some stellar individual performances. Elijhaa Penny had 250 all-purpose yards – 192 rushing and 58 receiving. Callen Hightower had 10 catches for 115 yards as Linehan mixed passes to seven receivers en route to 307 yards. He also rushed for 49.

Austin Rehkow kicked four field goals with a season long of 43 yards and averaged 47.7 yards on his three punts.

Marc Millan led the defense with 10 tackles (eight solo) with one interception and a fumble recovery. Kaden Elliss had nine tackles, and Quinton Bradley and Kaylyn Ayers each had two tackles for loss.

Rehkow’s 30-yard field goal capped Idaho’s first drive with 9:12 to go in the first. The 17-play drive was highlighted by a 12-yard run by Linehan on third-and-10 and a 12-yard Linehan pass to Hightower on four-and-nine.

The Vandals held on NMSU’s first possession the quickly answered with their first touchdown. Linehan found Cowan down the middle on first down for a 34-yard pickup to the Aggie 29 then he hooked up with Penny for the score with 6:57 to go in the first.

Idaho held NMSU on its next drive and, after an out-of-bounds punt, took over on its own 45. The Aggies thwarted the Vandals drive when Jaden Wright intercepted Linehan in the end zone and returned it to the NMSU 37. The Aggies’ drive stalled at the Idaho 35 and Idaho took over on downs as the first quarter ended.

Penny scored his first TD on the 11th play of the drive when he broke out of traffic and found running room for the 28-yard score with 10:32 to go in the half. Rehkow’s kick made it 17-0.

Rehkow made it 20-0 with 6:15 left in the second quarter with his 39-yard field goal. The 10-play drive included a 20-yard burst by Penny and came after the Vandal defense had its third three-and-out of the half.

The Aggies scored their first touchdown when Xavier Hall went in from the five after Larry Rose III picked up 54 yards on a second-down run. With 4:36 to go in the first half, Idaho led 20-7.

Rehkow had a rare miss on his next field goal attempt – from 35 yards, which came after an Idaho drive stalled at the NMSU 18. He had another chance with one second in the left half. The 43-yarder, his longest of the season, was good and Idaho led 23-7 at the half.

Marc Millan had his second interception of the season when he picked off Andrew Allen on NMSU’s first possession of the second half. Idaho capitalized when Linehan connected with Hightower for a 24-yard score just 14 seconds into the third quarter.  Rehkow’s kick made it 30-7.

The Aggies added their second score when the marched 75 yards on nine plays with a 37-yard pickup by Rose III the key play in the drive. Hall scored from the one to make it 30-14 with 1101 to go in the third quarter.

Rehkow was called on again on Idaho’s next drive but this time it was for his first punt of the game. The 40-yarder game NMSU the ball at its own 34. The Aggies capitalized and closed the gap to 30-21 on Rose’s six-yard run with 6:39 to play in the third quarter.

Idaho’s next drive stalled at the NMSU 23 and Rehkow was back on for his fourth field goal – this time from 40 yards, for a 33-21 Idaho lead with 1:31 remaining in the third.

The defense came up big on the Aggies’ next play when Millan forced a fumble by Josh Bowen and Dorian Clark recovered it at the NMSU 31. After three carries by Penny, Linehan scored his first rushing TD of the season with a 19-yard run. Rehkow’s kick pushed the Vandals to a 40-21 lead with 14:13 to play.

The Aggies responded almost immediately when Allen found Royce Caldwell on a 61-yard scoring play. Allen attempted a two-point conversion but was stopped short by Ryan Edwards and the Vandals led 40-27 with 13:30 to go.

Idaho’s next drive stalled and Rehkow punted for the second time – a 59-yarder that gave the ball to the Aggies on their seven.

NMSU used another long ball to cover 51 yards en route to cutting the Vandal lead to 40-34 on Rose’s three-yard run with 9:51 remaining.

Penny scored his third TD of the game on a one-yard run with 5:09 to go. His two-point conversion run gave the Vandals a 48-34 advantage.

The Aggies again used a big play – this time a 35-yard run by Allen, to fuel a scoring drive that culminated in Rose’s three-yard run with 3:56 on the clock. The PAT kick closed the game to 48-41. The Aggies tied the game with 51 seconds to play on Rose’s one-yard run to force overtime.

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