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Vandals defense sends Petrino out a winner

| November 21, 2021 1:10 AM

From wire and news services and staff reports

POCATELLO — Idaho’s defense gave Paul Petrino a win in his final game as Vandals’ coach, notching the program’s first shutout since 1997, a 14-0 victory over Idaho State on Saturday in the season finale for both teams at Holt Arena.

Charles Akanno led a stifling defense for Idaho (4-7, 3-5 Big Sky) with four sacks, including a strip-sack.

Idaho scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns and let the defense do the rest, holding Idaho State (1-10, 1-7) to 246 yards, including just 51 on the ground. The Vandals totaled eight sacks.

The Bengals made it to the red zone twice, but missed two field goals, one of which was partially blocked by Jalen Hoover.

It was a bizarre game in which both coaches came into the game having been fired earlier in the week, but were both allowed to coach in the finale.

Petrino, whose firing from Idaho was announced Thursday, finished 34-66 in his nine seasons as Vandals coach. His contract was set to expire in June 2022.

On Saturday morning, Idaho State announced it had fired head coach Rob Phenicie with one season remaining on his contract. Phenicie finished 14-37 in his five seasons in Pocatello.

That led to an unusual exchange between the two head coaches when they met at midfield after the game.

The Idaho State Journal newspaper of Pocatello reported that Phenicie ran over to Petrino and put his arm around him.

“Hey, you know they got me, man,” Phenicie said he told Petrino, the Journal reported.

“Oh they did?” Petrino responded. “Well they got me.”

“Yeah, I know,” Phenicie said.

Fullback Trase Letexier scored on a 1-yard touchdown run on the Vandals' first drive to give Idaho the 7-0 lead with 11:12 remaining in the first quarter.

The Vandals added a score with 1:37 left in the first on a 3-yard run by quarterback Zach Borisch.

Borisch was 5 for 9 passing for 88 yards and led Idaho rushers with 64 net yards.

Idaho sacked ISU freshman quarterback Sagen Gronauer five times. After he was shaken up and left the game in the second half, the Vandals sacked backup Hunter Hays three times. Nate DeGraw, a junior from Post Falls High, had one sack, as did Sully Shannon, Cameron Townsend and Kayode Rufai.

After scoring twice on its first three drives, Idaho punted four times in its final seven drives, turned the ball over once on downs, threw and interception and lost a fumble.

Idaho finished with 218 total yards, actually getting outgained by ISU.