ISU football: Bengals blow late lead in 44-37 overtime loss
POCATELLO – Idaho State had plenty of chances. UC Davis did, too.
Only one team made the most of its do-overs. The other let a win slip away.
In a game Idaho State led for 42 minutes, 13 seconds, it only took a few plays for everything to unravel. The Bengals led by 16 points in the third quarter and 15 points in the fourth, but lost to No. 14 UC Davis in overtime, 44-37, on Saturday at Aggie Stadium.
The Aggies (5-1, 3-0 Big Sky Conference) tied the score on a 2-point conversion with 1:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, completing a fourth-quarter rally that started after ISU went ahead 37-22 at the 13:35 mark of the fourth.
UC Davis finished the job in overtime, scoring a touchdown on fourth down and stopping ISU’s fourth-down pass play. The Aggies rushed the field and took over first place as the only unbeaten team in Big Sky play.
The Bengals (4-2, 3-1 Big Sky) are left playing catch-up with everyone else.
“The guys are a little beat up,” ISU defensive coordinator Roger Cooper said in a postgame radio interview. “They forgot what it’s like to lose and it’s hitting them pretty hard. It’s tough to see. But, it just really shows you how much they care and how much opportunity is still ahead of us to win a lot of games.”
The game entered overtime after ISU freshman kicker Campbell Sheidow missed a 27-yard field goal wide right as time expired in regulation. The Bengals marched 65 yards in 64 seconds to answer Davis’ game-tying score and were in position to spoil yet another ranked opponent’s homecoming.
But Sheidow’s mishap was just one of several missed opportunities.
ISU went 3 of 14 on third down, committed seven penalties and failed to score on three red-zone trips. The Bengals didn’t cash in on their first-quarter interception or their second-quarter fumble recovery – both of which gave the offense the ball less than 25 yards from the end zone but resulted in no points.
And while UC Davis’ offense found its rhythm in crunch time, Idaho State was shuffling hobbled running backs and couldn’t twist in the dagger.
“We told Campbell it’s not only him,” Cooper said. “There’s a handful of plays, 10-15 plays, you make one of them, we win this game and everyone’s happy. But you didn’t make any of them.”
Idaho State’s final touchdown was a 3-yard pass from Tanner Gueller to Michael Dean that gave ISU a comfortable 15-point cushion. The Bengals rattled off 23 unanswered points earlier after falling behind 7-0 and kept the Aggies in check the rest of the way to build their two-touchdown lead.
But after the fourth-quarter touchdown, ISU ran six plays totaling 9 yards its next two possessions. The defense even managed to force Davis to punt at the 5:38 mark, but the offense promptly went three-and-out.
The Aggies tied the game on a 5-yard pass from Jake Maier to Keelan Doss and a 2-point toss to Jared Harrell. Ulonzo Gilliam ran in the game-winning score on a gutsy fourth-and-2 play in overtime.
ISU’s final play was an incomplete pass on fourth-and-3.
UC Davis was held to 14 points in the first half – its second-lowest first-half total this season – but outscored ISU 30-14 the rest of the way, including the game’s final 22 points.
“They made some plays,” Cooper said. “The plays that we were taking away in the first half, getting them off the field, they made them. It’s my job to put them in better situations.”
Doss, Davis’ All-American wideout, and Maier, the Aggies’ all-conference quarterback, found their groove after halftime. Maier completed 16 of 22 passes for 150 yards and one score in the opening quarters – he finished 40 of 51 for 382 yards and five touchdowns. Doss amassed eight of his 13 receptions and 91 of his 131 yards in the second half and OT.
Though ISU often traded mistakes with the Aggies in the early going, the Bengals managed 23 points, 265 yards and a 23-14 lead at the break. No other Davis opponent has scored that many points in the first half this season, and only Stanford held a halftime advantage.
ISU stayed hot to begin the third, as Gueller hit Dean for a score 1:01 into the quarter’s opening drive. The Bengals punted to end four of their next five possessions.
Gueller completed 19 of 30 passes for 319 yards, two TDs to Dean and one interception. Mitch Gueller hauled in eight catches for 175 yards, and James Madison led the ground attack with a season-high 147 yards rushing and two rushing touchdowns. Linebackers Kody Graves and Christian Holland combined for 23 tackles, and Kainoa Fuiava logged ISU’s lone sack of the game. Safety Adkin Aguirre intercepted Maier on the goal line in the first quarter and returned it 88 yards.
ISU has a week off from Big Sky play, as the Bengals travel to FBS Liberty. Then the Bengals return home Oct. 27 to face the Montana State Bobcats.
“The good news is, nothing changes with us. We stay the course,” Cooper said. “Let it hurt for one day, then move on.”
- Saturday was ISU’s first overtime game since the 2015 season, against Montana at Holt Arena. ISU has not won an overtime game since 2008.
- At 3-1 in the Big Sky, ISU and Eastern Washington are tied for second place in the league standings. EWU was previously unbeaten in league play but lost 14-6 Saturday at Weber State.
- Saturday’s game was the first in the history of Aggie Stadium to go into overtime (opened in 2007).