Late in the fourth quarter and with Portland State holding a double-digit lead over Eastern Washington, senior linebacker Andy Schantz looked at his teammates sitting next to him on the bench and screamed. “We’re different,” Schantz said while shaking his head.
Late in the fourth quarter and with Portland State holding a double-digit lead over Eastern Washington, senior linebacker Andy Schantz looked at his teammates sitting next to him on the bench and screamed.
“We’re different,” Schantz said while shaking his head. “We’re different.”
Schantz’s words were exactly what a lot of the fans who witnessed the Vikings’ 47-36 victory over Eastern Washington Saturday were likely thinking from their seats in the stands.
Is this the same team?
After sputtering to a 1-3 start, Portland State played arguably its most complete game since second-yard head coach Jerry Glanville arrived in the South Park Blocks, looking like an entirely different squad in the process.
“I think what makes it special is that it was a team win,” Glanville said.
Almost the entire season the Vikings have had trouble converting on third down. On Saturday, they were successful on 10 of 21 third downs, including zero penalties in those situations.
Portland State has also allowed opponents to build momentum and extend drives by missing tackles and assignments on costly third downs. However, against Eastern Washington, the Vikings held on eight of 15 third-downs.
And the Vikings’ offense has frequently stalled through the first four games. But, once again, things were different on Saturday, as Portland State’s offense ran smoothly and racked up 597 total offensive yards.
Sophomore quarterback Drew Hubel completed 44 of 73 passes for a school record 623 yards and five touchdowns and no interceptions. His 73 pass attempts is a single-game Big Sky Conference record.
“It’s huge,” Hubel said of the victory. “We have to win every week.”
Following the game, Glanville attributed some of the change in his team’s much-improved performance to a players-only meeting last Sunday after losing to Sacramento State.
“You know, I would rather have execution than a team meeting. But I think the team meeting was in their heart, in their spirit, and I think they played like that,” Glanville said.
From beginning to end, the Vikings looked more energized and fired up than in previous games this season.
Junior wide receiver Mario D’Ambrosio claimed the passion the Vikings displayed was a byproduct of “the love for the game and love for one another,” that the players posses.
D’Ambrosio was Hubel’s favorite target Saturday, as he hauled in 16 receptions for 192 yards and three touchdowns. The 16 catches ties D’Ambrosio for the all-time Portland State record held by Stu Gaussoin, who set it in 1979.
Even with their record-breaking performances, Hubel and D’Ambriosio were both quite modest following the game, thanking the other offensive players, coaches and, most of all, the defense.
“Its so much fun to see the defense play like that,” Hubel said.
The “that” Hubel is referring to is causing turnovers, collecting tackles in the backfield and flying to the football. Eastern Washington still gained 489 total offensive yards, however, the Vikings consistently stopped the Eagles when it mattered the most.
Freshman cornerback Deshawn Shead picked off Matt Nichols’ two passes and striped a Eastern Washington receiver in the fourth quarter, leading to a fumble recovery by senior safety Aaron Dickson.
Following the game, Shead summed up Portland State’s day with three words.
“It was great.”