Another day, another loss

 The Portland State football team laid its biggest egg of the season Saturday in the last home game of the year.

 The Portland State football team laid its biggest egg of the season Saturday in the last home game of the year.

The Vikings entered the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead, but a pair of Northern Colorado touchdowns gave the Bears a 35-30 victory at a rain-soaked Hillsboro Stadium. 

This loss—a heavy one for the Viks—leaves them at 2-8 on the season and 1-6 in the Big Sky Conference. The Vikings play their final game of the season this weekend against Sacramento State. The Bears finish their season sitting at 3-8 overall, and 2-6 in conference play.

Portland State head coach Nigel Burton said Saturday’s was probably the worst loss the Vikings have had all season. 

Like many of the other football games this season, it was a tale of two halves. After a strong run in the first half, when the Viks had outscored the Bears 27-9, the PSU offense and defense simply quit functioning. 

Northern Colorado looked to get back into the game before halftime. Following a 47-yard kick return, the Bears had possession with four seconds remaining in the half. In the most exciting play of the game, Bears quarterback Dylan Orms evaded a sack and threw a 43-yard pass into triple coverage in the end zone.

As the ball sailed to the front corner of the end zone, a PSU defender batted away the ball at the goal line. Unfortunately, he batted the ball directly into the hands of Bears tight end Doug Steele at the 3-yard line. Steele broke multiple tackles as he sidestepped along the sideline, clawing his way to a touchdown to bring the score to 27-15.

It was Steele’s second touchdown off a tipped ball in two consecutive weeks. 

In the second half, both the offense and defense went to pieces for Portland State. The Vikings allowed the Bears to score 20 points and were only able to muster a lone field goal on their part. 

“It was a lack of execution,” Burton said. “A bunch of guys looking for somebody else to do something to make a play.”

It seems at this point in the season that the Viking offense is built to be heavily reliant on the quarterback’s running game. With mobile quarterback Connor Kavanaugh out with a broken hand—and senior quarterback Tygue Howland not much for getting out of the pocket—the decision was made to bring in sophomore wide receiver Keitrell Anderson and put him under center. 

Anderson never threw the ball, but kept it for himself five times for 17-yards rushing. Anderson may not have been able to fill Kavanaugh’s shoes, but his presence prevented Howland—who has already suffered season-ending knee injuries—from taking some nasty hits like he experienced last week against Sacramento State. 

Howland continued to make plays with his arm and spread the ball around this week. He had five different receivers by halftime and two touchdown passes to two different receivers. However, with the Viks down by five, Howland gave up two interceptions on the last two drives of the game.

He finished the game completing 20 of 35 passes for 250 yards. His two touchdowns were his first of the season. 

Junior running back Cory McCaffrey continued his impressive season. By halftime, he had over 200 yards rushing and a touchdown earned on a fourth-and-one play.

The two runs leading up the McCaffrey’s touchdown started on second-and-two at midfield. For two consecutive plays, McCaffrey could not get the first down. Finally, after coach Burton decided to go for it on fourth-and-inches, McCaffrey found room on the left side and took it in for a touchdown.

The play was just a consequence of the second effort McCaffrey has made all season. Even in the worst of losses—and this was one—his performance shines. McCaffrey finished the day with a career-high 226 yards. The Bears seemed to have an answer for McCaffrey in the second half. On the Vikings’ first drive of the third quarter, McCaffrey carried the ball four times for a loss of six yards. 

After the game there was plenty of blame to go around, but Burton said the coaching staff did not get their message through, and that was “on the coaching staff.” 

“We gave up two touchdowns on ridiculous plays that have been practiced. The message has not been sent and received,” Burton said. 

The last game of the season is Saturday at Northern Arizona. Kickoff is set for 2:05 p.m., and the game can be watched at or heard on KXFD, AM-970 or at