KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Despite a defensive effort that kept the game close and forced four turnovers with a pair of interceptions and fumbles recovered, Idaho eventually broke the game open to defeat Western Michigan on Homecoming, 33-13, Saturday afternoon at Waldo Stadium.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Lewis Toler and freshman cornerback Raheam Buxton each picked off Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle, while Buxton and senior safety Jamail Berry each forced and recovered fumbles for the Broncos (1-3) against the Vandals (3-2). Berry tied his career high with 12 tackles and added 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack.
Junior punter Ben Armer had three punts sail more than 50 yards, including a career-long 65-yarder, for a 49.1 average on seven punts. He also placed three inside the 20-yard line. Junior placekicker John Potter made both of his field goal attempts.
Offensively, sophomore quarterback Alex Carder accounted for 168 of the Broncos' 184 total yards with 104 passing and 34 rushing yards. Junior running back Aaron Winchester gained 47 yards on 12 carries, while senior wide receiver Jordan White caught six passes for 57 yards.
The Vandals were led by Enderle with a career-high 30 completions for 380 yards and three touchdowns. Idaho had 10 players make a reception, led by wide receiver Eric Greenwood with six receptions for 82 yards. The Vandals gained 477 total yards, but were held to just 97 on the ground in 33 attempts.
Idaho marched 79 yards on the opening drive of the game to reach the Western Michigan 4-yard line. The Broncos were able to hold as redshirt freshman cornerback Lewis Toler broke up Enderle's pass on third down to force Trey Farquhar's 22-yard field goal, 3-0, with 8:40 to play in the first quarter.
On the next Idaho possession, Toler stepped up again to intercept Enderle to give WMU field position at midfield. While the Broncos couldn't take advantage of the field position on the scoreboard, they were able to keep Idaho pinned back near its goal line over the course of the next four combined possessions. After a sack by sophomore defensive end Freddie Bishop on Idaho's fifth possession pinned the Vandals at the one, WMU got the ball back at the end of the first quarter at the Idaho 30-yard line after a short punt.
The Broncos advanced to the Idaho 15-yard line, but the drive stalled. WMU didn't come away empty-handed as junior kicker John Potter converted a 34-yard field goal to tie the game, 3-3, with 13:59 to go in the first half.
On the following Idaho possession, sophomore linebacker Dex Jones sacked Enderle on third down to force a punt. The Vandals took a gamble, however, as senior safety Shiloh Keo took a direct snap on the punt and raced 35 yards for a first down. On the next play, Enderle found junior running back Kama Bailey wide open over the middle for a 30-yard touchdown to regain the lead, 10-3, with 11:55 to go in the half.
Idaho stopped the Broncos and got the ball back at its 31-yard line. The Vandals jump-started the drive with a 35-yard reception by wide receiver Maurice Shaw to get into WMU territory. Six plays later, Enderle converted a third-and-five by finding streaking wide receiver Justin Veltung wide open along the Idaho sideline for a 24-yard touchdown to increase the lead, 17-3, with 6:55 remaining in the first half.
The Broncos threatened on their next possesion, driving to the Idaho 23-yard line after a career-long 21-yard run by Carder. The Broncos' drive was thwarted as Carder's throw into the end zone to Ansel Ponder was intercepted by Gary Walker. Western Michigan got the ball back at the Idaho 18 as senior safety Jamail Berry forced and recovered a fumble by Enderle.
Five plays later, Carder found sophomore wide receiver Ansel Ponder on a slant route for a seven-yard touchdown to cut down the WMU deficit, 17-10, with 1:55 to go in the half.
At halftime, Idaho had out-gained the Broncos, 295-99, but had committed one more turnover and missed a field goal at the end of the first half. Carder had accounted for 71 of the Broncos' yards with 38 on the ground and 33 through the air.
The Broncos punted on their first drive of the second half, but got the ball back as freshman safety Raheam Buxton stripped Deonte' Jackson and recovered the fumble at the WMU 43-yard line. The Broncos used a 13-yard completion to Aaron Winchester, followed by a 12-yard run from Winchester to advance to the Idaho 20. A potential touchdown catch by Jordan White was reviewed and ruled incomplete, so WMU settled for Potter's 38-yard field goal with 8:45 left in the third to cut into the Idaho lead, 17-13.
Western Michigan's Buxton forced another turnover on the next possession as he picked up his first career interception after Berry hurried Enderle into a poor throw. The offense took over at the Idaho 39, but soon faced fourth and four. Carder found White just short of the marker, but he made a defender miss and carried the ball 15 yards to the 18-yard line. The Broncos took their chances on fourth down again at the 13-yard line, but White dropped Carder's pass in the end zone to give the ball back to Idaho with 5:10 left in the third quarter.
The Vandals used a 32-yard reception by Eric Greenwood and 25-yard reception by Daniel Hardy to advance to the WMU 7-yard line. Enderle's next three passes were incomplete and the Vandals settled for a field goal. Toler blocked the ensuing kick, but was called offsides to move the ball to the WMU four. This time, Idaho went for it on fourth down and Enderle found tight end Tyler Elmo over the middle for a touchdown. After the extra point hit the post, Idaho increased its lead to 10, 23-13, with 1:28 to go in the third quarter.
While the defense kept the game within striking distance, the offense couldn't get much going. After being forced to punt, the snap was high and Idaho's Justin Hernandez recovered the loose ball in the end zone to increase the lead, 30-13, with 8:39 left in the contest.
Idaho added another field goal with 5:40 left on the clock to account for the final scoring.
The Broncos resume Mid-American Conference play on the road next weekend at Ball State (1-3, 0-0 MAC) at noon in a game televised on ESPN Plus.
Courtesy of Western Michigan Athletics