POCATELLO – It was methodical, it was workmanlike, it was efficient.
Most importantly, it was a win.
Idaho State snapped a nine-game losing streak Saturday as it handled Division II Dixie State 40-14 to open Mike Kramer’s third season as head coach.
The Bengals (1-0) rolled up 580 yards of total offense against the outgunned Red Storm (0-1) in front of over 5,000 fans at Holt Arena.
Quarterback Justin Arias went 29-for-45 for 439 yards and two scores in his first college start, drawing praise from his head coach.
“Justin got the ball off accurately all afternoon, he just had a great game,” said Kramer.
The Bengals broke open a 7-7 tie with 17 straight unanswered points to take a 24-7 lead into the locker room. Arias threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Luke Austin and ran 19 yards for another score during that streak of points.
In the second half, the much-maligned Idaho State defense held Dixie State to 54 yards of offense and sacked quarterback Griff Robles seven times during the afternoon, also drawing praise from Kramer.
“We feel pretty good about the things we should have done,” Kramer said. “We need to get better in some things, but overall I’m happy with what the defense did. We were in superior shape, had a veteran presence on the field and our safety play was much improved.”
A couple of Bengals had career afternoons. Receiver Cam Richmond, although he didn’t score a touchdown, had 149 yards on nine catches. Kicker Brenden Garcia made three field goals, including a 40-yarder which also was a personal best. Luke Austin also finished the game with 119 yards on seven catches and the aforementioned score.
Also helping out was Bengal running back Xavier Finney, who ran for one score then hauled in a pass for another.
“This is our third year with this offense and you can see that it’s getting better,” said Kramer. “We’ve got some dynamic players on that side of the ball.”
Idaho State came out of the break and scored another 10 points, upping the lead to 34-7 before Dixie State scored its second touchdown of the day as Robles connected with tight end J.D. Duncan. It was the second hookup between the two for a score in the game. The Red Storm never got closer.
Idaho State hosts Western State from Colorado next Saturday afternoon as the Bengals look to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 1999.