KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Idaho led 28-19 entering the fourth quarter, but Western Michigan scored 18 unanswered points to claim a 37-28 victory Saturday, at Waldo Stadium. The Vandals (1-2) committed three turnovers, which the Broncos (1-2) turned into 13 points.
“I thought we were way better for three quarters, but we have to find a way to win that game in the fourth quarter,” said head coach Paul Petrino. “The first three quarters was by far the best football we’ve played, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t finish it off in the fourth quarter.”
Matt Linehan accounted for four touchdowns for Idaho, throwing for three and rushing for another. Linehan’s three-yard run put the Vandals back on top 21-19 with 3:39 to go in the third quarter. His 39-yard pass to Alfonso Onunwor two minutes later extended the lead to nine headed into the final period.
Idaho kept the Broncos out of the end zone in the first half, taking a 14-6 lead into the locker room. Western Michigan scored the first two touchdowns of the third quarter to take a 19-14 lead. Both scoring drives came on short fields thanks to punt returns. Darius Phillips took consecutive punts 55 yards and 49 yards.
After Idaho regained the lead, it was third-down conversions and broken plays that allowed the Broncos to march back in front. WMU was 3-for-4 on third down in the fourth quarter and quarterback Jon Wassink scored both touchdowns on the ground, including a 22-yard scramble for the first score with 12:15 to go in the game.
“What really killed us as much as anything was turnovers and special teams,” Petrino said. “Then defensively tackling the quarterback when he scrambles.”
Wassink’s second touchdown was from a yard out, but only after a 12-yard scramble converted a third-and-11. A two-point conversion put WMU ahead for good with 7:23 left. A field goal with 1:59 to play made it a two-score game.
Linehan finished the game 16-for-26 for 229 yards with touchdown passes to Onunwor, David Ungerer and Joe Wysocki. He moved past Ken Hobart on the school’s all-time list for career passing yards, now ranking No. 4 with 9,369. He is one completion shy of matching Nathan Enderle for second all-time in that category.
Aaron Duckworth led the way on the ground for the Vandals with 97 yards on 13 carries. Duckworth ripped off a career-long 74-yard run in the second quarter. It was the longest by a Vandal since 2011 and the 18th longest in program history. He also caught a 60-yard pass in the first quarter that set up Idaho’s first score.
Idaho opens Sun Belt play next week, with a game at South Alabama. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. CT/11 a.m. PT and the game will be available on ESPN3.