Perhaps change is easier to grasp when it’s linear.
Steady improvements make sense. Sudden shifts do not. And when those deviations come, it’s natural to want to point to one person, one event, one thing as the ignition. Something had to set off the chain reaction.
Finding that with Idaho State is tough. The Bengals were left for dead this time last week. Idaho State was 0-4. It’s offense was in disarray. It’s defense couldn’t force turnovers. And, in the penultimate year of his contract, coach Rob Phenicie’s seat was getting toasty.
It was not that the Bengals were bad. They felt hopeless, a team on the brink of a winless season. Outsiders were ready for drastic change – whatever that looks like. Maybe a coaching change. Or an offensive overhaul. Something. Anything.
The Bengals did not fully commit to that, which is why Saturday is harder to explain. You can’t point to one person or one play and crack the case on Idaho State’s improbable 27-17 over visiting and No. 7 UC Davis (5-1) — it’s first win over a Top 5 opponent since 2005.
“Resiliency,” Phenicie said, “that was our message … A lot of negativity everywhere on the outside and we said, ‘Don’t listen to it. The only people who can solve the problem are the people in the room.’”
If you want to find some sparkplug moment, some explanation for a seemingly defeated winless squad to pull a rabbit out of its hat and beat the seventh-ranked team in FCS, last Monday is probably the closest you’ll come.
The Bengals entire offense met in the locker room on Monday, a discussion less about schematics and more about accountability.
IDAHO 42, PORTLAND ST. 35
Zach Borisch threw for a touchdown on his only pass and ran for a touchdown, and Idaho built a big lead before holding on to defeat the visiting Vikings.
Aundre Carter rushed for two touchdowns for the Vandals (2-3, 1-1) and Mike Beaudry threw a touchdown pass to Terez Traynor for 42 yards.
Borisch started the scoring with a 2-yard run and found Dalton Cash behind the defense for a 46-yard score as the Vandals opened a 34-7 lead. But it was a Roshaun Johnson 3-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter that won the game.
Portland State (2-4, 1-2) cut it to 35-14 with Davis Alexander throwing his second touchdown pass to Kelly Beau on the last play of the first half. Alexander ran for a score and twice connected with Mataio Talalemotu to trail by a touchdown.
Idaho was running out the clock inside the 10 when Beaudry fumbled with 27 seconds left. The Vikings reeled off six plays, going from the 3 to the 47 but a last-play pass into the end zone was knocked down.