CALDWELL — Nothing like a bye week to cure all that ails.
Just ask the College of Idaho football team, which continued unbeaten at 7-0 in games following byes since the program was reinstalled in 2014.
The Yotes handled the Raiders of Southern Oregon 29-3 Saturday afternoon in a Frontier Conference game before a crowd of 3,052 at Simplot Stadium.
College of Idaho (2-1 overall, 2-1 CC) charged to a 23-0 lead by halftime. The Yotes scored on each of their first four possessions.
Everything clicked in the first half on both sides of the ball.
“We played an excellent first half, maybe the best first half that we’ve played in a long, long time,” Yotes coach Mike Moroski said. “I thought we had this week one of our most productive weeks of practice in my whole time here.”
The Yotes moved up and down the field behind two quarterbacks – starter Jack Rice and backup Ryan Gibbs. Both directed scoring drives in the opening two quarters.
Moroski said the two-quarterback system will be in place going forward.
“They both deserve to play; they both played well today,” Moroski said. “They do different things in different ways. I was very comfortable with it. I’m sure they weren’t comfortable with it, but we have buy in from those guys. There’s no strict plan. I don’t wan to be boxed in to anything. It’s not like we’re going with the hot hand or anything.”
Rice completed 8 of 10 passes for 89 yards and Hibbs converted on 9 of 12 for 144 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Nick Calzaretta was his workhorse self, picking up 90 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns.
Cameron Simons chipped in a 19-yard field goal after the Yotes took the opening kick and drove to the Raiders’ 2-yard line.
After the Yotes’ defense forced a three-and-out, College of Idaho drove 83 yards on 10 plays with Calzaretta powering in from 2 yards out on fourth-and-1 for a 10-0 lead with 1:20 to go in the first quarter.
The Yotes took advantage of another three-and-out from the Raiders when running back Hunter Gilbert scored behind left guard from 5 yards out to extend the lead to 17-0.
In Hibbs’ first go, the Yotes finished off a short drive when Calzaretta scored on a 2-yard run for a 23-0 lead with 7:23 remaining before halftime.
Although the defense didn’t throw a shutout in the second half like it did in the first half, it was still quite effective.
Southern Oregon took the opening kick in the third quarter and marched to the Yotes’ 20-yard line where the drive stalled. The Raiders settled for their only points on a Cesar Ruiz 38-yard field goal.
The Yotes kept quarterback Matt Struck in check throughout. The senior is in his fourth stop in Ashland, Oregon, after playing at Idaho State, Missouri State and a junior college.
“We knew he was a gunslinger so early on we tried to eliminate all the pick routes for him,” said Yotes defensive back Taeson Hardin, who had seven tackles, a fumble recovering and a pass breakup.
Stuck finished 16 of 35 for 129 yards and an interception.
“We wanted him to think, that was our plan,” Hardin said. “We wanted to make sure he wasn’t getting all the quick shots out and give our (defensive line) some time to get to him.”
The Yotes did. They had three sacks, two by linebacker Tanner Leaf.
“We knew that as long as we were holding in the back seven our d-line would get there sooner or later,” Hardin said.
It was a much better defensive performance after the Yotes squandered a lead two weeks ago in a 33-30 home loss to Rocky Mountain College.
“I’m upset we gave up three points,” Hardin said. “We should have goose egged them. But at the end of the day as long as we came up in a W, that’s all that matters to me.”
The Yotes find themselves in a tie for second after Rocky Mountain suffered a 31-29 loss to Montana Tech on Saturday. That leaves Eastern Oregon (3-0) all alone in the first. Eastern Oregon went on the road Saturday for a 10-7 win against Carroll College.
The Yotes travel to La Grande, Oregon, next Saturday to face Eastern Oregon.
“Eastern’s playing great, they’re a fantastic football team,” Moroski said.