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ISU Football game in the Holt Arena

Vandalized Rivalry Energizes Bengals

Joe Clarke, '70, hadn't been back to Pocatello since he and his fellow Bengals beat the Vandals in Holt Arena half a century ago.

On Oct. 6, he returned to see it happen again. In a historic return of an in-state rivalry, Clarke and more than 11,000 fans cheered as the Bengals defeated the Vandals 62-28 in the “Battle of the Domes.”

When Clarke learned that the Vandals would once again return to Holt Arena, he called up his former teammate Jim Galagher, and the two made the trek back to Pocatello together, travelling more than 2,100 miles from Virginia and New Jersey to see history in the making.

“We played in the (1969) Idaho-Idaho State game, so we know how big this is,” Clarke said. “That’s why we came back, to watch the team.”

Idaho State and Idaho hadn’t squared off on the field since 2008 in Moscow, and the Vandals hadn’t played in Pocatello since 1997. The last time ISU beat the Vandals was in 1995, a time before many of the players on the current team were born.

“This rivalry is important to our entire Bengal community. It gives us a chance to reach out to our fans and supporters to instill pride and build enthusiasm for the institution,” said Pauline Thiros, interim athletic director. “It was a great stage for everyone in Idaho to have their eyes on ISU for a day.”

Bengals tackling a Vandal

Attendance at the game was the largest crowd at Holt Arena since 2003, with just over 11,000 fans striping the stadium in orange and black. In addition to successfully pulling off ISU’s first color striping of Holt Arena, the crowd witnessed a number or new records set.

Idaho State racked up 754 yards of total offense, 518 coming through the air and 236 on the ground. Quarterback Tanner Gueller was featured on ESPN for his record-setting day, where he passed for a career-high 492 yards and a school record eight touchdown passes. He was 19-30 and had nine completions of 20 yards or more.

Mitch Gueller, his brother, caught six balls for 184 yards and one touchdown. Five of his receptions were for longer than 20 yards, and Michael Dean caught six passes for 156 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. The four touchdown receptions also tied a school record.

The good-natured ribbing of the University of Idaho by Bengal fans didn’t end when the game was over. Prior to the game, the ISU Alumni Association challenged the U of I Alumni Association to the first-ever Bengals versus Vandals Food Fight, a canned-food drive. The losing side’s alumni director had to wear the rival’s colors and post a video on social media touting the other school’s accomplishment. ISU collected more than 12,000 cans in comparison to U of I’s 1,800.

In a similar contest, Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad and Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert wagered wearing the opposing team’s colors on their tie to a city council meeting. Mayor Blad called out Mayor Lambert in a video posted on Facebook asking if he wanted to make a friendly wager.

“It was incredible to have the University of Idaho back in Pocatello for the Battle of the Domes,” Blad said. “Mayor Lambert and I had a great time with our good-natured bet. The pride of Idaho State and Pocatello was at stake, and our Bengals delivered in a big way.”

Idaho State will travel to Moscow on Oct. 19, 2019 to play the Vandals.