Cotton’s big day helps Vandals prevail

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MOSCOW — Jeff Cotton caught 16 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns Saturday night as the Idaho Vandals held off stubborn Division II Central Washington 41-31 on Saturday night before 5,905 at the Kibbie Dome.

Cotton’s 16 catches are second most in Idaho single-game history, one shy of the record set in 1969 by Jerry Hendren.

“They’re used to winning. People that are used to winning know how to play good football,” Idaho coach Paul Petrino said of Central Washington. “We did a lot of things good. We got better as the game went on. I thought it was great that we ran the ball really well at the end of the game. And defensively, they made the plays when they had to.”

Aundre Carter and Roshaun Johnson led a potent ground attack for the Vandals (1-1), combining to run for 234 yards. Carter ran for 123 yards and the first two touchdowns of his career. Johnson added 111 yards and a score. Both rushing totals were career highs and the duo became the first pair of Vandal teammates to eclipse 100 rushing yards in the same game since 2004.

With less than two minutes remaining and the Vandals leading 34-31, Carter took a third-and-five carry looking to salt the game away with a first down. Instead he broke free up the middle and scored from 27 yards out to secure the victory.

Idaho struck first on a field goal by Cade Coffey (Lakeland High) on the opening drive, leading to a 3-0 lead after one quarter. Carter’s first touchdown put the Vandals up 10, but Central Washington (0-1) scored on its ensuing drive thanks to a 60-yard wide receiver pass.

A pair of Vandal turnovers allowed the Wildcats to jump in front, 17-10 with less than five minutes to play in the first half.

Mason Petrino drove the Vandals into the red zone and found Cotton for a 19-yard score with 27 seconds to go in the second quarter, sending the teams into the locker room knotted at 17.

With the score tied again at 24, Cotton and Petrino connected again on a fade route in the end zone just before the end of the third quarter. The Vandals would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.

Petrino finished 23 of 30 for 209 yards and two scores. He also rushed for 26 yards.

Linebacker Tre Walker led the Vandals with nine tackles, his second straight game with team-high honors.

A box score was not available from The Associated Press at press time.

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