Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Instant analysis: Idaho 43, Bowling Green 42
By Graham Watson
The Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl was billed as an offensive shootout that would be won by the team that had the ball last, and that’s exactly the way the game unfolded. Idaho mounted an unbelievable comeback in the final seconds and took the lead with a two-point conversion to give the Vandals their first bowl win since 1998. It also gave the WAC its first bowl win of the season. While it’s not a BCS bowl game, the Humanitarian Bowl likely will be one of the most memorable games of the bowl season.
Idaho running back DeMaundray Woolridge and coach Robb Akey celebrate the Vandals' win Wednesday night.
How the game was won: With 32 seconds remaining and Idaho down 42-35, quarterback Nathan Enderle threw a 50-yard pass to Preston Davis to get to the 16-yard line. Enderle then found receiver Max Komar in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown. With momentum swinging the Vandals' way, they decided to go for two, and Ederle completed the conversion to Davis for the 43-42 win.
Turning point: Idaho was all but counted out after Bowling Green quarterback Tyler Sheehan found receiver Freddie Barnes for a 51-yard touchdown with 32 seconds remaining. But Enderle’s 50-yard heave to Davis gave the Vandals new life. Coach Robb Akey's decision to go for two instead of kicking the game-tying PAT ended up being the right move.
Stat of the game: Bowling Green and Idaho combined for 990 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns.
Player of the game: Davis finished with four catches for 119 yards, but no two receptions were bigger than the 50-yard grab that set up the Vandals’ final touchdown and the two-point conversion that ultimately gave them the win (which isn't an official reception). Prior to the game, Davis had not had more than 53 receiving yards in a single game.
Best call: Even if the two-point conversion had failed, Idaho coach Robb Akey still would have been praised for trying to capitalize on the Vandals’ momentum. Akey believed in his team and it paid off with a big bowl win. Akey already was in contract negotiations with Idaho, and this should move them along quickly.
Record performance: Idaho’s heroics will undoubtedly overshadow a spectacular performance by Barnes, who became the NCAA record-holder for single-season receptions with 155, including what looked to be the game-winning reception with 32 seconds remaining. Barnes finished with 17 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns, his second 200-yard game of the season.