October 1, 2007

Football Returns To Big Sky Action At Idaho State

Oct. 1, 2007

Game Notes #7: Idaho State
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Game #6

Northern Colorado (0-5, 0-1 Big Sky) at Idaho State (1-3, 0-2 Big Sky)

Saturday, Oct. 6, 2007 • 2:07 p.m. MDT

Holt Arena (12,000) • Pocatello, Idaho


Series Record: Idaho State, 17-6

Last Meeting: October 7, 2006; ISU 41-13


        Northern Colorado: Scott Downing (Sterling College, 1979)

                Record at Northern Colorado: 1-15 (2nd Year)

                Career Record: 14-19-1 (4th Year)

                Record vs Idaho State: 0-1

        Idaho State: Jon Zamberlin (Boise State, 1981)

                Record at Idaho State: 1-3 (1st Year)

                Career Record: 63-41 (9th Year)

                Record vs Northern Colorado: 0-0


Northern Colorado Radio Network:                                     Altitude Sports Television:

        Troy Coverdale, play-by-play                                              Tom Lewis, play-by-play

                Chris Ott, color analyst                     Toby Christensen, color analyst

 The Sky Is The Limit

     Non-conference action for the Bears is complete and the final seven games on the 2007 schedule are all Big Sky Conference tilts. This week, NC faces Idaho State as both teams search for their first conference victory. The Bengals are 0-2 after dropping decisions to Eastern Washington and Montana State. The Bears are looking to snap a 13-game losing streak and win their first-ever Big Sky game. Saturday also marks the last in a four-game road trip for the Bears.

 Smile For The Cameras

     The game Saturday will be televised on Altitude Sports & Entertainment, with Tom Lewis calling the play-by-play and Toby Christensen providing the color commentary. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:07 p.m. This is the second straight conference game and the second in the last three to be televised for the Bears as the contest at Northern Arizona was broadcast by FOX College Sports Atlantic.

 Series Record

     This will be the 24th meeting between Northern Colorado and Idaho State, tying for the most games against any Big Sky competition with Montana State. The series between the Bears and Bengals began back in 1939 with ISU holding a distinct 17-6 edge in the all-time meetings. In last season's Big Sky Conference tilt, Idaho State won 41-13 in Greeley and they have won the last three meetings.

      2006:   Greeley     L, 13-41             1960:   Pocatello   L, 7-14              1952:   Pocatello   L, 16-46

     2004:   Greeley     L, 42-49 (2 ot)     1959:   Greeley     L, 13-32             1951:   Greeley     L, 6-13

     2003:   Pocatello   L, 42-33             1958:   Pocatello   L, 6-7                1950:   Pocatello   W, 20-18

     1989:   Greeley     W, 19-17           1957:   Greeley     L, 6-7                1949:   Greeley     L, 19-41

     1985:   Pocatello   L, 17-44             1956:   Pocatello   L, 7-20              1948:   Pocatello   L, 6-38

     1979:   Pocatello   W, 23-0             1955:   Greeley     L, 0-19              1940:   Greeley     W, 21-7

     1978:   Greeley     L, 7-9                1954:   Pocatello   L, 13-28             1939:   Pocatello   W, 13-0

     1961:   Greeley     W, 27-22           1953:   Greeley     L, 7-10

 The Northern Colorado Connection

     For the second straight week, the Bears face a team with no Colorado players on its roster, however there are a few connections between the two teams. Redshirt freshman Andrew Dunkley, from Long Beach Poly High School was on the high school roster with Idaho State's Jonathan Tuua, a sophomore defensive lineman. NC senior quarterback Dominic Breazeale and ISU junior defensive lineman Lionel Vaiomounga both attended Mt. San Antonio College. Bears' Assistant Coach Nate Griffin and ISU assistant Brian Strandley also both played football at the University of Idaho, though 10 years apart. Griffin played for the Vandals from 2000-04, while Strandley was there from 1991-94.

 2007 Idaho State Schedule

Sept. 8      SOUTHERN OREGON              W, 37-11

Sept. 15    at Oregon State                             L, 10-61

Sept. 22    *#25 EASTERN WASHINGTON    L, 7-34

Sept. 29    *at #18 Montana State                    L, 20-40

Oct. 6       *NORTHERN COLORADO        2:07 p.m.

Oct. 13      *at Northern Arizona                     4:05 p.m.

Oct. 20      *PORTLAND STATE                  3:05 p.m.

Oct. 27      CAL POLY                                3:05 p.m.

Nov. 3      *at Weber State                           1:35 p.m.

Nov. 10    *#1 MONTANA                          3:05 p.m.

Nov. 17    *at Sacramento State                    3:05 p.m.

*Indicates Big Sky Conference Game

 Woods Does It All

     He can run, that we knew, but now we know he can throw too. Junior running back David Woods rushed for a career-best 130 yards against Cal Poly, posting the longest rush of the season with a 20-yard gain in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Woods completed a 35-yard pass to senior wide receiver Andy Birkel, setting up the Ryan Chesla touchdown. The pass by Woods is the longest for the team this year. Woods tallied 173 all-purpose yards in the game, gaining 43 yards off two kickoff returns. His 173 all-purpose yards are the most for a Northern Colorado player since the Bears joined the Big Sky Conference and the most since Andre Wilson tallied 220 against Southern Utah on Oct. 22, 2005.

 Two Touchdown Day

     Junior tight end Ryan Chesla caught two touchdown passes in the game at Cal Poly, an eight-yard pass from Mike Vlahogeorge in the second quarter and a 30-yard pass from Dominic Breazeale at the beginning of the fourth quarter to give him his first career two-touchdown day and the first for the Bears this year. Chesla and David Woods lead the team with three touchdowns each this season. Last year, Andre Wilson led the Bears with five touchdowns in the 11 games.

 It Doesn't Get Any Easier

     The new polls are out for the week of October 1, proving the Northern Colorado schedule doesn't get much easier. In the first five games of the year, the Bears have played FBS #16 Hawai'i (5-0), Division II #4 Chadron State (4-0), San Diego (3-1) and Northern Arizona (2-3) - which are both receiving votes in the Sports Network poll and #24 Cal Poly. The Bears still have to play at #1 Montana (4-0), against #13 Montana State (3-1) and against Eastern Washington (3-1) and Portland State (2-3), which are both receiving votes.

 Hitting The Ground Running

     Northern Colorado rushed for a season-best 197 yards against Cal Poly, over 70 yards better than any of the first four games of the year. The Bear's also had 511 all-purpose yards against the Mustangs, the second-highest output trailing only the 522 the team put up against San Diego.

 What Brown Can Do For You

     Junior Eric Brown has amassed 269 yard during kickoff returns this season, for an average of 53.8 yards per game. If he proceeds at his current pace, Brown will end up with the second-best season in Northern Colorado history with 646 yards. The school single-season record belongs to Johnny Watkines from 1984, as he tallied 663 kickoff return yards. Brown currently ranks ninth in the Big Sky with his 20.7 yards per return average.


     Senior punter Rafael Mendoza punted five times on Saturday and pinned the opponents inside the 20-yard line three different times, bringing his season total to 10 times inside the 20. Last year, he had 13 punts downed inside the 20 on 56 punts (23 percent) with seven touchbacks, while this year he has done so 10 times in 35 punts (29 percent) with just two touchbacks.

 By The Numbers

     Junior linebacker Cristian Sarmento is just four tackles shy of his 150th, as he sits at 146 tackles in 26 games for his career... Junior Brian Barmann surpassed the 300 yard total for career receiving yards after tallying one catch for nine yards against Cal Poly. Barmann now has 302 yards in 13 games... Senior Andy Birkel is just six yards shy of hitting 1,300 all purpose yards for his career... With 125 more yards of total offense, senior quarterback Dominic Breazeale will reach 1,500 yards for his career. He has played 14 games for the Bears with 1,274 passing yards and 101 rushing yards... Senior punter Rafael Mendoza surpassed the 6,000 mark for career punting yards at Cal Poly and now has 6,020 yards in 29 games played.

 Top Marks

     Junior running back David Woods had 25 rushing attempts against Cal Poly, tying him for the most attempts in the Big Sky this year (O. Sobomehin, Portland State), while junior Ryan Chesla's two touchdown receptions also ties for the most this season in the league.

 Frequent Flier Miles

     The Bears are playing their fifth road game in six weeks and when they return home on Sunday, will have amassed 12,244 miles already this season. The season opener to Honolulu was 3,358 miles, while it was 869 to San Diego, 523 to Flagstaff and 938 to San Luis Obispo. This week's trip seems short in comparison, as it is just 434 miles to Pocatello, Idaho.

 Five And Twenty

     Against Northern Arizona, five different receivers caught passes for 20 or more yards. Junior tight end Ryan Chesla caught four passes for 60 yards and a long of 34 yards, while junior wide receiver Cory Fauver caught three for 41 yards and a long of 20. Senior wide receiver Andy Birkel snagged three passes for 37 yards and a long of 22, while junior running back David Woods caught two for 47 yards and a long of 28. Senior tight end Clint Wright also caught two passes for 26 yards with a touchdown and a long reception of 23 yards. Last season, the Bears never had more than three players catch a pass for 20 or more yards in the same game, in fact, the last time NC had five players with receptions or 20 or more came back on Oct. 18, 2003 at Florida Atlantic, a 21-19 loss.

 Injury Update

     Defensive end John Eddy is listed as day-to-day after leaving the Northern Arizona game with an ankle injury. Sophomore defensive end Scott Allen is doubtful for the Idaho State contest after being injured at Cal Poly. Junior quarterback Mike Vlahogeorge left the game against Cal Poly with an ankle injury and is questionable for Saturday.

 New Look Bears

     Freshman Josh Mack made his first career start against Cal Poly, becoming the 16th different player to start this season for the Bears. Freshman defensive tackles Amal Gumbs and Dominique Ceja started against Northern Arizona, while at San Diego, both junior wide receiver Cory Fauver and freshman running back Dan Freismuth made their first starts. DT Martin Awatchie, TE Andrew Emmerling, WR Jeff Vaden and QB Mike Vlahogeorge started for the first time against Chadron State and WR Jason Caprioli, OL Eric Christensen, DE John Eddy, DE Joe Silipo, CB Quincy Wofford, RB David Woods and OL James Zapp all started against Hawai'i.

 I'd Like To Return This Please

     For the last two seasons, head coach Scott Downing has seen something in his defensive players he likes for the return game. In 2006, Derek Gainey returned 16 of the team's 39 kickoffs for 312 yards (19.5 per return) and Aaron Henderson returned 10 of the team's 12 punt returns for 42 yards. This year, Eric Brown has 13 of the team's 31 returns for 269 yards (20.7 per return) in the last four games.

 Defensive Catches

     Junior defensive end Mark Rodden, who spent his first two seasons with the Bears on the offensive line, notched the longest interception return of the year, picking off San Diego for 25 yards. NC has four interceptions in five games, as senior defensive back D.J. Craft has a 24-yard interception return against Chadron State and both freshmen C.J. Stemo and Max Hewitt picked off passes against Hawai'i.

 Double Trouble

     For the third time since head coach Scott Downing took over the reins, two players recorded over 100 all-purpose yards in the same game as junior running back David Woods tallied 180 and senior wide receiver Andy Birkel had 101.

 All New Conference Call

     For the first time in Big Sky Conference history, the league will sponsor a weekly conference call with the nine head coaches. The call will take place on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon (Mountain) beginning Sept. 5. Northern Colorado head coach Scott Downing will fill the fifth time slot from 10:02 to 10:10.

 10:30-10:38                John Zamberlin, Idaho State         11:10-11:18                Jerome Souers, Northern Arizona

10:38-10:46                Bobby Hauck, Montana              11:18-11:26                Paul Wulff, Eastern Washington

10:46-10:54                Ron McBride, Weber State          11:26-11:34                Marshall Sperbeck, Sacramento St.

10:54-11:02                Rob Ash, Montana State              11:34-11:42                Jerry Glanville, Portland State

11:02-11:10                Scott Downing, No. Colorado  11:42-noon (if needed) Commissioner Fullerton

 All In The Family

     The Bears sport two pair of brothers currently on the roster in Matt (Fr-LB) and Mike (Jr-QB) Vlahogeorge, and Justin (So-RB) and Korey (So-DB) Askew but there are several other members of the team who had brothers on previous year's teams. Senior linebacker Asa Matthew's brother Adam played for the Bears from 1999-2003, while senior nose guard Vinny Pallone's brother Dominic played for the Bears from 1996-00.