Davis denies Vikings first victory

Months of hype and anticipation met harsh reality at Portland State’s home opener Saturday night, as the Vikings lost their second consecutive game, falling to the University of California, Davis, 26-17.

Months of hype and anticipation met harsh reality at Portland State’s home opener Saturday night, as the Vikings lost their second consecutive game, falling to the University of California, Davis, 26-17.

Despite the 12,022 fans that flocked to PGE Park to witness head coach Jerry Glanville’s home debut, Portland State left the Viking faithful shocked after letting a golden goal-line opportunity slip away late in the fourth quarter.

With the score at 26-17 and under ten minutes remaining in regulation, the 18th ranked Vikings were positioned inside the one-yard line and primed to score a crucial touchdown. But five plays—two quarterback sneaks and three bruising runs—were not enough for the Vikings to move the football half a yard, leaving PGE Park in an eerie hush and fans rushing for the exits.

“Any time you’ve got the ball inside your one yard line that many times and you don’t score, you don’t deserve to win,” said head coach Jerry Glanville. “Giant disappointment. I thought we had control of the game right before the half—made a crucial mental error. We did things we can’t do, we allowed them to come back into the game.”

Twice during the goal-line drive, it appeared quarterback Brian White and fullback Olaniyi Sobomehin crossed for the touchdown. But, much to the chagrin of the fans and Viking players, the officials declared Portland State had not scored, and the Aggies goal-line stand cemented an upset win. 

“There is really no excuse to be a half a yard away from the goal line and not score,” Sobomehin said. “But like coach (Glanville) said there is no excuse, we should have scored.”

On a night where disappointment reigned supreme on the field, the Vikings’ home opener was a success in the stands. The 12,022 fans in attendance more than doubled number of people Portland State averaged in home openers over the past two seasons.  

The Vikings controlled the game and scoreboard in the first half. Sobomehin’s first-quarter touchdown scamper from one yard out seemed to set a positive tone and gave Portland State an early lead. In the second quarter, White hooked up with wide receiver Kenneth Mackins for a 49-yard touchdown reception on a scoring drive that lasted only 49 seconds.

In the first half the Vikings were also the beneficiaries of two safeties on high snaps that sailed over UC Davis punter Emanuel Benjamin’s head and skipped through the end zone. The UC Davis special teams unit made adjustments at halftime, however, and held the Vikings to an average starting field position of the 26 yard line in the second half. 

The Vikings’ run defense was formidable in the first half, allowing only 28 yards on ten carries from UC Davis running back Joe Trombetta. Senior PSU free safety Michael Dorsey had four tackles and two sacks, including a forced fumble that Portland State recovered.

In the second half, Dorsey would only make one more tackle and Trombetta broke two big runs to finish with 100 yards on 19 carries and 61 yards four on catches.

Behind Trombetta’s long rushes and quarterback Tim Plough’s 234 passing yards and two touchdowns, UC Davis mounted a comeback on 23 unanswered points after being down 17-3 late in the second quarter. The Vikings were outplayed on both offense and defense. 

“Nobody wants to be 0-2 after two games, but that is the situation that we are in right now so all we can do is battle back,” Dorsey said. “We haven’t played a Big Sky game yet and that is the only thing that matters. If we win the Big Sky, we will still go to the playoffs.”

Glanville looked glum and stunned by the outcome in the post-game press conference. Donning his trademark black attire and a long face, the former NFL head coach placed all his hope on the Vikings faring well against Big Sky foes, saying that his team will be much better when Portland State’s third game rolls around. 

“I was surprised because sometimes we played like a good football team, but we didn’t play like that all the time,” Glanville said. “Our goal is to try to win the Big Sky and that starts this week.”

Portland State will attempt to reinvigorate its season and capture a Big Sky title, as it plays host to Sacramento State at PGE Park next Saturday at 6:05 p.m.