The Idaho State offense was firing on all cylinders Saturday afternoon at Holt Arena as the Bengals collected points on nine of the team’s 16 drives, routing Portland State for a 59-30 victory. The 59 points is the most Idaho State has scored against a Division I team since putting up 59 points against Portland State in 1980 and the 691 yards of total offense is the third most in a game since 2004.
Idaho State (4-4, 2-3 BSC) blistered the Portland State defense through a balanced offensive attack that featured 327 passing yards and 364 yards on the ground. The win comes off a week where Idaho State was handed its second consecutive loss in a game where the team finished with 328 total yards of offense in a game where the Bengals eclipsed only 21 points.
“Last week was a reality check for us,” said wide receiver Michael Dean, who finished with five catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. “We were rolling and it was kind of a lull. We got back into it this week.”
The offensive onslaught met its most enthralling moment when Mitch Gueller used one hand to haul in a 97-yard touchdown pass from Tanner Gueller. The play stands as the longest passing play in school history and is the longest offensive play since 2011.
“We take a shot when we are backed up like that,” said Mitch Gueller, who had a career-high 195 receiving yards. “Tanner threw a great ball and I just happened to be open for the play and the rest is in the record books.”
One of the few offensive miscues Idaho State made all afternoon was its first play from scrimmage, when quarterback Tanner Gueller helplessly watched the football roll out the back of the end zone after the ball was snapped over his head, giving Portland State (0-7, 0-4 BSC) its only lead of the day and marked one of two first half ISU offensive drives that didn’t end with Bengal points.
The other was a three-and-out late in the second quarter, but Idaho State missed other opportunities to put more points on the board as the game wore on. Zak Johnson, who was kicking in place for Parker Johnson, had a short field goal blocked late in the third quarter and ISU collected 80 penalty yards off seven flags.
“No snaps over the quarterback’s head, we score every time we are inside the 25 and we don’t have any turnovers,” said head coach Rob Phenicie. “That could get better.”
Following the safety, ISU’s Adkin Aguirre intercepted Jalani Eason off a deflection which set the Bengals up inside the 30. Idaho State ran six plays following the turnover, but only managed a field goal on a drive that featured ISU’s best starting field position.
“It wasn’t the prettiest, but the outcome was good,” Phenicie said.
Eason, a freshman quarterback who was benched by PSU head coach Bruce Barnum the last three weeks for Josh Kraught, got the start for the Vikings on Saturday and Kraught was moved back to the slot where he played at the beginning of the year. Phenicie said he didn’t find out about the quarterback change until a couple hours before kickoff.
“The first I heard of [Eason] starting was during our pregame radio interview,” Phenicie said. “I think what they wanted to do was get their three best receivers on the field and Kraught is one of their best receivers.”
Eason completed 19 passes off 38 attempts for 256 yards for two touchdowns and an interception and Kraught caught three passes for 30 yards.
Portland State kept pace with the Idaho State offense for most of the first half and pulled to within one when Andre Petties-Wilson took his first carry of the game for a 77-yard score on the first play of the drive.
The Vikings missed a field goal to close the first half and Idaho State lead 31-16 going into the break as both teams were just shy of 300 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes.
Idaho State scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions of the second half on drives of 11, six, 12 and two plays.
The Bengals opened the second half with a two-play, 80-yard touchdown drive as James Madison, who carried the ball 23 times for 160 yards, ripped off a 40-yard run to begin the third frame and Dean hauled in a 41-yard touchdown pass from Gueller to put ISU back on the board in 33 seconds into the half.
“After last week, I feel like not everybody was into it,” said running back Ty Flanagan who ran the ball 21 times for 108 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. “We had a lot of people lacking and this game I feel like we really wanted it. In our own home, we cannot get beat.”
All of Flanagan’s touchdown runs were under five yards and the redshirt sophomore accounted for half of ISU’s eight touchdowns. The one-two, power combo of Flanagan and Madison accounted for 268 of ISU’s 364 rushing yards.
“Vicious,” Flanagan said on the combo. “We give each other breaks. So, instead of pounding on one person for 44 carries, we have breaks. I feel like it is very difficult to stop us when [Madison] and I get going.”
Idaho State travels to Montana State next week as the Bengals now have twice as many wins this season as they did all last year.
“The thing that is awesome about this team is there are a couple more that we felt we probably should have won,” Phenicie said. “Last year at this time after game eight, we were getting pounded by NAU and Southern Utah and there hasn’t been a game where we haven’t competed the whole time.”