Bengals in the NFL: Josh Hill’s strong postseason ends with last-second loss

By Josh Hill

Throughout the NFL season, we’ll check in with former Idaho State football players currently in the NFL. Here’s an update after the second week of the postseason.

Josh Hill (2009-12)

New Orleans Saints

Hill and the Saints lost 29-24 to the Minnesota Vikings in Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game. Case Keenum completed a last-ditch heave near the sideline on the game’s final play to Stefon Diggs, who ran for a 61-yard touchdown to send the Vikings to the NFC championship game, where they will face the Philadelphia Eagles.

Drew Brees drove the Saints in position for Wil Lutz’s go-ahead 43-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining, punctuating a rally from a 17-point deficit that stood until 1:16 left in the third quarter.

Hill caught three passes for a season-high 54 yards in the loss. He tallied six catches for 103 yards and one touchdown in two postseason games.

The Blackfoot native finished the season with 22 catches for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Next season is Hill’s final year under contract with the Saints after he signed a three-year contract in 2016.

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2 false alarms lead to ISU scare, locked down schools in Idaho Falls

By Journal Staff

A false report of gunfire led to a scare at Idaho State University in Pocatello on Thursday, while a report of a man with a holstered handgun led to multiple schools in Idaho Falls being placed on lockdown on Friday morning.

However, police said both cases turned out to be mere false alarms.

In the first incident, several police units responded to Idaho State University on Thursday afternoon after professors reported hearing “popping sounds” and seeing flashes of light that could have been gunfire.

The sounds and possible muzzle flashes were reported around 1:45 p.m. by a group of three ISU professors who were walking on the Quad, ISU reported.

The professors contacted the Pocatello Police Department, saying that they heard the noises and then saw the flashes of light coming from the Fine Arts Building next to the Student Union, according to ISU.

Several Pocatello police officers responded to the campus, and with help from ISU Public Safety, an investigation was launched.

ISU issued an alert to everyone on campus around 1:55 p.m. that officers were responding to the Fine Arts Building because of the “popping sounds,” adding that security camera footage was showing nothing unusual.

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ISU T&F: Vanvleet takes pentathlon title at Snake River Open

 ISU Sports Information

After the first day of competition at the Snake River Open, sophomore Ashley Vanvleet has her first title of the year.

Vanvleet competed in her first collegiate pentathlon and used strong performances across the board to win the event with a total score of 3,413. She finished first in the high jump and shot put with marks of 5’3.75″ and 36’0.25″, respectively. She finished second in the long jump while finishing third in both the 60m hurdles (9.84) and the 800m (2:30). Her long jump mark of 17′ 2.25″ is a personal best by almost 18 inches.

“She’s the girl that says she’s not a long jumper,” ISU coach Hillary Merkley said. “Today I told her, ‘It looks like you are.'”

Sophomore Shayla Henderson took second in the pentathlon with a score of 3,343. Her jump of 16′ 11.75″ was her personal best in the long jump. Henderson finished with the fastest time in the 60m hurdles, crossing the line in 9.54 seconds. Her 2:23.59 was good enough for the second fastest 800m of the day.

Freshman Brianna Vanvleet jumped 17′ 3.75″ in the long jump to finish first in that event. She placed fourth overall in the women’s pentathlon with a score of 2,985.

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Travel an extra grind for Division I’s smallest schools

The Low Majors Travel

By JOHN MARSHALL , AP Basketball Writer

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — As the bus rolls past mileage signs for places like Malad City, Arimo and Woodruff, the long frames of Northern Arizona’s basketball players splay across the seats. Heads rest on makeshift pillows of jackets and backpacks, legs stretch across aisles, feet rise above headrests.

Outside, flurries dance in the headlights as roadside reflectors flash like car turn signals. Yellow weed stalks, evidence of a recent thaw, peek through the white blanket along the highway.

Pockets of dense fog envelop the bus, visibility measured in yards for perilous moments before thankfully clearing.

The players are oblivious to the cold world outside. Their only concern is finding comfort on this opening three-hour leg of a two-day return to Flagstaff, Arizona.

“It’s pretty hard travel after a game,” NAU coach Jack Murphy said. “You want to get home, get the guys some rest on their day off, but it’s a long day of travel on their ‘day off.’

Travel is one of the most arduous aspects of college basketball. Hours upon hours every season are dedicated to getting to the next town, buses and planes essentially becoming players’ and coaches’ mobile second homes.

Some have it easier than others.

At the highest levels of Division I, buses park next to charter planes filled with spacious seats, teams’ schedules based on when the runway is open. Convenience affords efficiency: Practice at home, fly out in the evening, play the next day, head straight home.

Travel at the low-major level can feel like “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” All that’s missing is the train and Del Griffith.

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No threats found after police respond to ISU following professors’ reports of ‘popping sounds,’ flashes of light

By Journal Staff

POCATELLO — Several police units responded to Idaho State University on Thursday afternoon after professors reported hearing “popping sounds” and seeing flashes of light that could have been gunfire.

The sounds and possible muzzle flashes were reported around 1:45 p.m. by a group of three ISU professors who were walking on the Quad, ISU reported. The professors contacted the Pocatello Police Department saying that they heard the noises and then saw the flashes of light coming from the Fine Arts Building next to the Student Union, according to ISU.

Several Pocatello police officers responded to the campus and with help from ISU Public Safety began investigating.

ISU issued an alert to everyone on campus around 1:55 p.m. that officers were responding to the Fine Arts Building because of the “popping sounds,” adding that security camera footage was showing nothing unusual.

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ISU tennis: Men picked 6th, women 4th in preseason polls

By Journal Staff

The Idaho State men’s and women’s tennis teams were picked to finish sixth and tied for fourth, respectively, in the Big Sky Conference preseason coaches polls, released Thursday.

The Bengal men return three players from last season’s squad that qualified for the Big Sky tournament for the first time since 2013. Among ISU’s newcomers are Peter Trhac and David Felix, who made ISU history by advancing to the round of 16 at the 2017 Oracle ITA Fall Championships in ISU’s first national tournament appearance since 1993 following the fall season.

Idaho State finished the 2017 spring season 12-8 overall and 7-4 in conference play. Defending Big Sky tournament champion Idaho was picked to repeat, with nine of 12 first-place votes.

The Bengal women return all nine players from last season’s team that advanced to the Big Sky tournament for the first time since 2004. ISU finished the 2017 season with a 10-11 overall record, including a 7-4 mark in league play and a 4-0 loss to Northern Arizona in the semifinals of the Big Sky tournament.

Idaho was picked to win the conference with 10 of 12 first-place votes. ISU is tied for fourth with Sacramento State.

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ISU T&F: Bengals host season-opening Snake River Open

By ISU Sports Information

The Idaho State men’s and women’s track and field teams will host two home meets during the 2018 indoor season beginning with the Snake River Open on Friday and Saturday inside Holt Arena. Both the men’s and women’s teams were picked to finish seventh in the Big Sky Conference this season, and both teams have multiple contributors returning this season.

Women’s Overview

Head coach Hillary Merkley is excited about the progress that the women’s team has made overall since she took over the program in 2016.

“Last year, we had a small number of individuals who could potentially score for us on the women’s side, but a lot of our people stepped up and really outperformed what they were listed coming into the conference meet,” Merkley said. “So when we placed seventh, that was awesome.”

The Bengals bring in several new athletes that could make an immediate impact. In the pole vault, freshman Jessica Swannack finished first at the Weber State Winter Open on Dec. 1 with a vault of 3.65m, while fellow freshman Sierra Kaiser finished right behind her at a height of 3.5m.

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ISU MBB: Bengals suffer first conference loss, 81-58 at North Dakota

By Madison Guernsey mguernsey@journalnet.com

Idaho State lost its first Big Sky Conference game Thursday, falling 81-58 at North Dakota.

The Bengals (8-7, 3-1 Big Sky) committed 17 turnovers and were outshot 52.5 percent to 40.8 percent en route to snapping their four-game winning streak.

UND (5-11, 1-4 Big Sky) snapped an eight-game losing skid and earned its first conference victory. The Fighting Hawks had twice as many assists (18) as turnovers (nine) and had four players score in double figures.

ISU hasn’t beaten North Dakota since 2011, and Bengals coach Bill Evans is now 0-10 against the Fighting Hawks in his career.

“We got beat tonight by a better team,” Evans said in a postgame radio interview. “They kicked our butts tonight.”

Idaho State’s only leads of the game were 2-0 and 4-2 early in the first half. The Bengals stayed within six points of UND until the 3:43 mark of the first half, when Dale Jones hit a 3-pointer that sparked a 9-3 run to end the half. Idaho State trailed 41-29 at the break.

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