Portland State football’s hopes of a winning season came to an end this weekend after a disheartening loss to UC Davis on Saturday.
Portland State football’s hopes of a winning season came to an end this weekend after a disheartening loss to UC Davis on Saturday. The Vikings fell to the Aggies, 34-31, in a non-conference game that turned into a battle between the backup quarterbacks.
The Vikings started the game strong, making a defensive stand that forced the Aggies to punt on their first drive.
With starting quarterback junior Drew Hubel still out from a knee injury sustained against Northern Colorado on Oct. 10, sophomore Connor Kavanaugh wasted no time in making the most of his second start of the season.
He led the Vikings downfield and matched an early drive 30-yard quarterback scramble with a 30-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Bobby McClintock. The touchdown pass was Kavanaugh’s first of the season, and would be his first of two in the game.
Portland State walked into the locker room at the half with a 21-17 lead and 220 yards on offense, compared to UC Davis’ 267 offensive yards. But in the second half, it was the Aggies that ran away with the game.
In the second half, UC Davis chalked up another 217 yards of offense, and Portland State was only able to gain a net increase of 17 yards on their first-half progress.
The only Viking points put on the board after the half came from a 27-yard fumble recovery for touchdown from sophomore linebacker Ryan Rau and a 30-yard field goal by freshman Zach Brown.
“We played hard, but we just couldn’t come out on top,” sophomore cornerback DeShawn Shead said following the loss.
Forcing the fumble that Rau took into the end zone was senior linebacker Ryan Pederson. The hit not only put points on the board for Portland State, it also took Aggies junior quarterback Greg Denham out of the game.
During the hit, Denham’s left hand was sliced and required stitches, and he did not return to the field.
In his place, freshman Austin Heyworth took the snaps for UC Davis and went six for seven with 82 yards and two touchdown passes.
Kavanaugh, who went 12 for 18 with no interceptions and 131 yards passing, was also taken out of the game with the score tied at 31 following a UC Davis 15-yard touchdown pass from Heyworth to tight end Brad Bispo.
Replacing Kavanaugh as field general was sophomore Justin Engstrom, who did not fare as well as Heyworth.
He made one completion on his four attempts and was sacked for an 8-yard loss.
With 4:40 remaining in the game, UC Davis kicker Sean Kelley’s 38-yard field goal gave the Aggies their first lead of the game with the score 34-31. It was enough, as the Vikings were forced into a three-and-out on the following drive and were unable to stop the Aggies’ offense on third-and-13 in the final drive of the game.
UC Davis head coach Bob Biggs said his team was noticeably different late in the game.
“Particularly on defense,” he said. “In the second half we had a whole different energy. The defense really stepped up. We’re not a great football team—we’re a good football team. But we find ways to win.”
The loss knocks Portland State down to 2-6 in the season, bringing UC Davis to 4-3, and is the Vikings’ fourth straight home loss. Their last win at PGE Park took place Sept. 12 in their home opener against Southern Oregon.
Portland State continued to struggle with third-down conversions, as they only completed four of their 12 attempts in the game.
The game did feature some high points, however. Brown’s fourth-quarter field goal was his ninth in a row and 13th this season, placing him third in the school’s history for field goals in a single season.
Junior wide receiver Ray Fry led the Vikings with five receptions for 69 yards and the other touchdown reception of the game. McClintock rushed for 34 yards on eight carries and caught five passes for 46 yards.
Defensively, freshman corner back Mike Williams led the Viks with nine total tackles and sophomore free safety Cody Worthen had eight wrap-ups and a fumble recovery.
The Vikings travel to Seattle this week to play Eastern Washington at Qwest Field at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday.