Homecoming Victory for the Vikings

The Portland State football team took care of business at the inagural Turkey Bowl on Saturday, defeating North Dakota 14-10 at Jeld-Wen field. The Vikings (4-4 overall, 1-3 conference) brought their three-game losing streak to an end against North Dakota (2-6 overall, 1-4 conference.)
In the first half of the game the Vikings struggled to score and fell behind by ten but managed to make big plays in the second half, ultimately scoring 14 points in the fourth-quarter. When asked if he was surprised at the turnaround head coach Nigel Burton said, “No not at all. I think in the end we did what we needed to do for the win and I think good teams do that.”
What did the head coach say during halftime to motivate his players to score? “All I really told them was to do what we asked them to do. They didn’t need to do anything different from what they’ve practiced and what we’ve coached and if they did those things then we’d be successful and that’s what happened,” Burton said.
Although the Vikings were losing 0-10 in the first half of the game, things were began to change for the better when senior safety Michael Plummer blocked a punt. Following the game Plummer commented on that play, “Coach Malloe (special teams coordinator) called a block for our side and it was actually made by Justin Liley (running back), he was on the inside of me, he went through the A-gap, I went B and he crashed down their shield so I had a short edge and just went and got it. We both just got off the ball and did what we had to do.”
Plummer added, “I was just excited that he (the coach) even called the call that he did to get the punt block because sometimes we’ll just go for a return and we went for the block. I knew we had to do something, it was fourth-quarter and it was kind of slow on both sides of the ball, defense was doing great but as a special teams unit we knew we had to do something so we finally did it.”
After that play the North Dakota team struggled to get back in control of the game, Vikings senior quarterback Collin Ramirez, who came on in the fourth quarter to lead the team’s two short touchdown drives, commented about the game-changing play made by Vikings defense, “I think it was big, I think it lit everybody up. It gave us what we needed to be on our side of the 50 and to get that last touchdown. So it was really important.”
When asked about his fellow teammate Plummer, and what he thinks he brings to the team, Ramirez said, “He is just incredible. I’m so happy that he was the guy that got to make that play. Plummer gives 100% and when his number is called he is (determined) to make a play.”
With 10:45 left in the fourth-quarter, senior running back DJ Adams caught a pass from Ramirez and made a four yard dash into the end zone, which got the Vikings back in the game at 7-10. North Dakota’s punting unit made their second big mistake of the day when freshman punter Mitch Meindel dropped the ball, retrieved it, and scrambled and out of bounds. DJ Adams ran 15 yards, scoring the go-ahead touchdown that gave the Vikings the lead 14-10.
After their victory celebration in the locker room, Adams commented on the win, “Both [touchdowns] were made off of great special teams plays and that adding to the momentum of our offense, it allowed us to catch them off guard in both times and we got to the edge before they realized what was going on.”
Adams added, “Towards the end of the third-quarter and going into the fourth-quarter things started working, we were able to run the ball a little bit more and a little bit more efficiently and things just started working. Once we could run the ball and once we could get a balance it just worked out.”
The Vikings game against North Dakota was their first home game since their 34-38 lost against Cal Poly last month. The Vikings are building momentum going into the next two home games against Weber State (Nov. 2) and Sacramento State (Nov. 16). When asked about what improvements he thinks his team needs to make before heading to play against Weber State head coach Burton said, “I think we need to start faster than what we did, make sure we are doing things to get them [other team] out of our way a little bit and just keep getting better.”
5,120 people attended Portland State’s first annual Turkey Bowl. Portland State Athletics and KPTV sponsored the event; any adult who purchased a ticket ($19 general admission and up) received a free turkey.
The next regular season game for Portland State is set for Saturday Nov. 2 at Jeld-Wen field, as the Vikings host Weber State (1-7 overall, 0-4 conference).