Sidelined star: Vikings All-Big Sky first-team running back Cory McCaffrey watches his team from the sidelines after injuring his achilles in week six of the 2011 season.

A record career cut short

Portland State football star Cory McCaffrey reflects on his Vikings career and 2011 season

The Portland State football program made huge strides on the field and returned to relevancy during the 2011 season, finishing third in the Big Sky conference with a 7-4 overall record. As the Vikings tried to qualify for the postseason, the team’s biggest hurdle was finding a consistent running threat after losing their ace halfback in the hole.

All-Big Sky running back Cory McCaffrey was potentially on his way into the record books after accruing 731 yards on 122 carries, producing 13 touchdowns and averaging nearly 150 yards per game in the first six weeks of play. The prospect of McCaffrey being an NFL draft pick looked promising, but the dream came to a halt after an achilles injury brought his season to a sudden close.

Behind the wall: Getting protection from senior offensive lineman Adam Kleffrer (#61), quarterback Connor Kavanaugh (#6) readies for a throw down the field.

The end to a storied season

Portland State football concludes 2011 season with winning state of mind

The Portland State football program defied expectations, finishing third in the Big Sky conference after being projected to finish seventh of nine teams. The Vikings earned their best record since 2006 and rebounded from a 2-9 record in the 2010 season, finishing with a record of 7-4 overall and 5-3 in conference.

“Building this program is a process, no matter how impatient I am,” said Vikings head coach Nigel Burton. “Last year we played fairly well, and came close in a lot of games. This year, we played well and won, and came close to making the playoffs. Next year we want to take another step forward.”

Winning season ends with loss

Weber State dashes Portland State’s postseason hopes

Portland State’s football season came to an end this weekend after a 48-33 loss to the Weber State Wildcats on Saturday afternoon at Jeld-Wen Field. A win against the Wildcats would have kept the Vikings in the discussion for an at-large berth for the FCS Division I postseason tournament. An appearance in the playoffs would have been the program’s first in 10 years.

Portland State had a breakout season in 2011, finishing third in the Big Sky standings with a record of 7-4 overall and 5-3 in conference. The Vikings saw one of the biggest turnarounds in the nation after a 2-9 overall record in 2010—securing the program’s first winning season since 2006, ranking in the Top 25 for the first time since 2007 and winning four-straight games for the first time since 2004.

Homestand: Viking senior receiver Ricky Cookman (#18) leaps in celebration with sophomore defensive tackle Julius Moore (#95), while junior tight end Greylin James (#80) acknowleges the support of the Portland State fans in attendance.

Making a final statement

Portland State football’s playoff dreams may hinge on regular season finale against Weber State

The mantra Portland State football has lived by this season boils down to a single word—finish. The Vikings (7-3 overall, 5-2 conference) have persevered through a few mid-season stumbling blocks but are currently ranked No. 25 in the Sports Network Media Poll and are the winners of four straight games with a shot at making the NCAA postseason.

The Vikings’ chances at grabbing an at-large playoff berth will greatly increase should they win their last game and end the regular season on a winning streak. Standing in Portland State’s way are the Weber State Wildcats (4-6 overall, 4-3 conference), who will meet the Vikings this Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field. The 20-team tournament field will be announced this Sunday.

Coming into view: Portland State senior running back Willie Griffin (left, #20) runs downfield looking for an opening.

Football ranked in Top 25

Portland State pulls out 23-17 road victory against Northern Colorado

The Portland State football program escaped from Greeley, Colo., with a close win, defeating the Northern Colorado Bears 23-17 and kept their playoff hopes alive. The Vikings (7-3 overall, 5-2 conference) brought their win streak to four games for the first time since 2004, and concluded the Bears’ (0-11 overall, 0-8 conference) winless 2011 campaign in the process.

For the first time since 2007, the Vikings find themselves ranked among the nation’s Top 25 teams, coming in at No. 25 in the Sports Network Media Poll. Should the Vikings win their final game against Weber State, the program could see the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

Bombs away: Portland state senior quarterback Connor Kavanough (middle, #6) airs out a pass downfield.

Rocky Mountain road

Vikings ride three-game winning streak into Northern Colorado

Portland State football looks to keep their playoff hopes alive and avoid a season-spoiling loss to the Northern Colorado Bears this weekend. The Vikings (6-3 overall, 4-2 conference) sit in third place in the Big Sky and can earn an at-large berth into the NCAA postseason if they win their final two games in conference play.

Northern Colorado (0-10 overall, 0-7 conference) has lost eight straight games at home but are trying to salvage their season and prevent a winless year. The Vikings are riding a three-game winning streak for the first time in five years.

Portland State has officially locked up a winning season after defeating Sacramento State last weekend, claiming their sixth win in an 11-game schedule. The winning record is the first since 2006 and a victory this weekend would give the Vikings their first four-game winning streak since 2004.

Portland State evades Hornet’s sting

Viking football defeats Sacramento State 29-20 to continue run towards playoffs

The Portland State football program locked itself into a winning record after defeating the Sacramento State Hornets 29-20 at Jeld-Wen Field last Saturday. The Vikings (6-3 overall, 4-2 conference) are riding a three-game winning streak for the first time in nearly five years, snapping a three year skid to the Hornets (3-6 overall, 2-5 conference). With only two games remaining in the regular season, the Vikings must win the rest of their games in order to maintain third place in the Big Sky conference and keep their postseason dreams alive.

“We want to get this program to the point where we win because we are confident, not we are confident because we are winning,” Vikings head coach Nigel Burton said. “I think [the winning streak] continues to build to that mantra.”

Crash and run: Viking junior offensive lineman Anthony Moxley (# 78) bulldozes a path for senior running back Willie Griffin (# 28). Griffin had 85 yards on 11 carries last weekend against Eastern Washington.

Vikings hope to swat Hornets at home

Portland State could find themselves in postseason with wins in final three games

With only one victory standing between the Vikings football squad and a winning record, Portland State (5-3 overall, 3-2 Big Sky) certainly won’t be short on motivation when they host the Sacramento State Hornets (3-5 overall, 2-4 Big Sky) this Saturday. The Vikings are fresh off a 43-26 road win against the defending national champions Eastern Washington Eagles and are currently riding a two game win streak following back-to-back conference defeats earlier in the season.

History is on the Vikings side. Portland State has won 11 of the 15 games against the Hornets since joining the Big Sky conference in 1996, winning 21 of 30 in the overall series. Despite the dominance over Sacramento in past years, the Vikings have dropped three in a row against the Hornets after winning eight straight.

Pistol protection: Portland State senior quarterback Drew Hubel (#13) prepares for the snap, as senior offensive lineman Kyle Ritt (# 69) eyes the incoming defensive assault.

Postseason dreams stay alive

Vikings murder defending national champion Eastern Washington on blood-red turf

The Portland State football team put itself in position to make the postseason Saturday after defeating defending national champion Eastern Washington Eagles 43-26 on the road. The win places Portland State (5-3 overall, 3-2 conference) in third place in the Big Sky standings, increasing the chances the Vikings grab a spot in the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs.

A sold out crowd at Roos Field in Cheney witnessed Eastern Washington’s (4-5 overall, 4-3 conference) postseason hopes likely slip away, as the Eagles now fall to fifth place in the Big Sky. An all-around offensive attack from the Vikings resulted in 499 yards of total offense, proving too much for an Eagles team that had been riding a four-game winning streak.

Hole to fill Freshman running back Shaquille Richard (#20, middle) bursts through an open gap in the defense. Richard started against Willamette and ran for 89 yards and a touchdown.

Vikings prepare for biggest dam game of the season

Portland State to take on defending national champion Eastern Washington Eagles

There’s plenty on the line this weekend for the Portland State football program as they prepare for battle against the Eastern Washington Eagles in a Dam Cup rivalry game. The Vikings will travel to Cheney, Wash., to play on Eastern Washington’s blood-red Inferno Turf this Saturday, and beyond the competitive nature inherent in the rivalry, the winner of the showdown will take a step ahead in the battle for the top of the Big Sky conference.

Fresh face: Portland State freshman Shaquille Richard (#20 middle) started for the Vikings on Saturday at running back. Richard ran for 85 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Unsatisfying win for Vikings

Portland State downs the Willamette Bearcats this past Saturday behind a strong passing game

It was a slightly different Portland State football team that took the field Saturday, when the Vikings defeated the Division III Willamette Bearcats in a 36-10 victory. The Vikings (4-3 overall, 2-2 conference) have been left looking for new offensive weapons after the loss of all Big Sky running back Cory McCaffrey to injury against Montana two weeks ago.