Vandals dominate Lamar

Sep. 1—The Vandals took care of business on a road trip to Beaumont, Texas, and beat the Lamar Cardinals 42-17 in a dominant showing on Thursday. Idaho showed great things on both sides of the ball and jumped out of the gate in the scoring column.

"Happy about the win," Idaho coach Jason Eck said. "Good to get a win — road wins aren't easy. I thought we played really hard, which is good to see. I was happy we didn't rest on our laurels."

Here are some of the highlights from the Vandals' season-opener.

Strong start

Last year the connection between Gevani McCoy and Hayden Hatten was among the best in the FCS. The two wasted no time picking up where they left off.

Hatten had four catches for 55 yards on the opening drive, capped off by a 6-yard touchdown grab that put Idaho up 7-0.

The Vandals followed up the strong showing through the air with success on the ground. Idaho's second and fourth drives of the game both ended with rushing touchdowns by sophomore Anthony Woods of 9 and 6 yards, respectively. The Palmdale, Calif., native finished with 138 yards on 13 carries.

Idaho only punted once the entire first half and went into halftime with a 28-0 lead.

Wearing several Hat(ten)s

Hatten finished the game with six catches for 86 yards and the two aforementioned touchdowns. The preseason Big Sky Offensive MVP didn't see a lot of playing time in the second half after the Vandals pulled their starters, but Hatten added one more score through the air before his day ended. Except it came throwing instead of catching.

Hatten had the chance to throw the ball in Idaho's first drive of the third quarter on a trick play — which resulted in a 45-yard touchdown pass to running back, and roommate, Nick Romano.

"Honestly I give all the credit to (Gevani)," Hatten said. "I had never thrown a football before I met (Gevani) and he's a great teacher. So he single-handedly taught me how to throw."

Defense has a day

While the offense was busy lighting up the scoreboard, the defense was doing its job at keeping Lamar stagnant.

The defense finished with three sacks, seven tackles for loss and an interception by cornerback Marcus Harris.

The Cardinals didn't score a point until 4:46 was left in the third quarter.

The point margin between Lamar and Idaho was so large that a number of backups and third-stringers saw time in the fourth quarter.

"We had a lot of twos and threes," Eck said. "We played a lot of guys. I'd be curious exactly how many we played. We brought 68 guys on the trip, I bet we played over 60 of them."

Learning experiences

Despite what the score was, there were still a lot of things to improve on. The Vandals allowed over 100 yards worth of penalties — including a facemaskpenalty that erased a long run by backup quarterback Jack Layne in the fourth quarter.

Closing out the game better was another thing Eck pointed out. All 17 of the Cardinals' points came in the second half — 14 of them in the fourth quarter. The last touchdown came off a fumble recovery — one of Idaho's two turnovers of the game.

"They've got to play better," Eck said. "But you learn a lot from games. Sometimes you get a correction from practice that doesn't sink in as good as when you give up a touchdown or an error that leads to a turnover."

Additional stats

McCoy finished the game 14-for-19 for 164 yards, two passing touchdowns and one interception. The 2022 Jerry Rice Award winner also added 41 net yards rushing on five carries.

Junior safety Tommy McCormick finished with a game-high nine tackles.

Tyen Coleman had 1.5 sacks — one of them forced a fumble.

Up next

Idaho will hit the road again to play against Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Nevada at 4 p.m. on Sept. 9 in Reno, Nev.

The Vandals will have a nine-day break before playing the Wolf Pack, in addition to the rest the starters already had in the second half of Thursday's game against Lamar.

Kowatsch can be contacted at 208-848-2268, or on Twitter @Teren_Kowatsch.