Idaho St. 54, Montana-Western 20

Updated: August 29, 2003, 1:15 AM ET

POCATELLO, Idaho -- Idaho State quarterback Roman Ybarra, making his first collegiate start, threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns as Idaho State beat Montana-Western 54-20 in the season opener for both teams Thursday night.

Western's opening drive quieted the crowd as the Bulldogs advanced to the ISU 25-yard-line. However, quarterback Travis Kirby's next pass was intercepted and returned 75 yards for a touchdown by Josh Whitworth with 11:42 left.

"The receiver fell on the play," said Western coach Tommy Lee. "We tell our kids never to throw across the field, but those things happen. I don't think it won or lost the game, but it would have been interesting to see how they would have reacted to being behind."

The Bengals, of the NCAA Division I-AA Big Sky Conference, held a 17-0 lead before Western got on the board when wide out Dallas Mock hit Jake Larson for a 66-yard score within 3:06 left in the first.

The closest the Bulldogs came was 24-14 after an 84-yard score from Kirby to Larson, who caught three passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns. Kirby completed 23 of 42 passes for 290 yards for Western, an NAIA team in the Frontier Conference.

ISU scored 23 straight points, including two short TD runs by Isaac Mitchell, to put the game away.

Western's final score came on a 13-yard pass from Kirby to Larson.

The two teams combined for 87 pass attempts.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index