Grambling spoils Vikings home opener

Football doesn’t get much closer than it did Saturday night when Grambling State quarterback Randy Hymes ran bootleg left on the last play of the game for a touchdown with no time remaining, followed by an extra point giving the Tigers a 30-29 victory over the Portland State Vikings.

The non-conference matchup featured two top teams from the Big Sky Conference and the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Grambling (No. 15) handed PSU (No. 17) its first loss of the season at the Vanport Classic in front of 16,171 spectators, the ninth largest home crowd in Viking history. The game was PSU’s first in PGE Park (formerly Civic Stadium) since the venue’s $38.5 million renovation last year.

With 1:02 left on the clock, it seemed the Vikings had clinched the victory when sophomore tailback Amad Robinson scored late in the fourth quarter to give PSU a 29-23 lead. But Grambling State only needed 57 seconds to drive down field 75 yards on 10 plays. The pressure-savvy Hymes took over from there. He feigned a handoff right and then ran left unscathed for the winning touchdown. The Tigers’ Brian Morgan sealed PSU’s fate by converting the extra point.

Portland State senior receiver Terry Charles got things started for the Vikings midway through the first quarter. PSU quaterback Juston Wood connected with a 49-yard pass to Charles on a fly pattern.

The Tigers answered back with two touchdown runs in the second quarter to take a seven point lead. The Vikings tied things up when Robinson ended a 59-yard drive with a three-yard run.

The Tigers owned a 17-14 lead at the first half’s close, thanks to Morgan’s 29-yard field goal.

After trading touchdowns in the third quarter, the Vikings went into the fourth down 21-23.

Both teams were plagued by penalties throughout the game. The Vikings were hurt by the 12 they committed for 134 yards. The Tigers racked up 17 of their own for 152 yards- all but one were committed in the first half.

Hymes finished with 157 yards passing, completing 14 of 23. He also rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns.

For Portland State, Wood completed 20 of 30 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Jesse Levin had seven catches for 110 yards and a 16 yard touchdown pass, Charles had six catches for 97 yards, and Robinson rushed for 85 yards on 19 carries.

The Vikings kick off their conference opener next week at home. PSU will host Northern Arizona at PGE Park on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. Students are now required to pick up their tickets in advance of game day at the Portland State Box Office (First Ave. Cinemas). Students IDs will no longer gain any student admission to football games. Tickets can be claimed beginning on the Monday prior to every Saturday home game. Student tickets also serve as an all-day pass on any form of Tri-Met transportation on game days.