The Vikings football team kept its playoff hopes alive on Saturday night with a win over Idaho State, 27-24. Idaho State’s defense, which had only been allowing opponents less than 16 points per contest, was put in check by Juston Wood and the Vikings offense.
“We just ran our basic package on offensive, but we executed, did the little things well and played a full game of football,” freshman tight end Adam Whitehead said.
In the first half, the Vikings were slow getting points on the board. Idaho State was first to score, driving 78 yards on 16 plays for an early 7-0 lead.
Late in the first quarter, however, Wood connected with Whitehead for a 48-yard touchdown. It was only Whitehead’s second catch of the year, and it tied the game at 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second period, the Vikings’ offense exploded. Portland State was able to put up 250 yards of offense in the first half alone, its best one-half total of the year. To add to that, the offensive explosion was against the Big Sky’s leading defensive front. After putting up 17 points in the second quarter and only giving up seven, the Vikings led 24-14 going into halftime.
“Everybody stepped up to the challenge of them being the number one defense in the conference,” Whitehead said.
The third quarter featured mostly defense on both sides. It was not until late in the third quarter that Idaho State had a chance to score. The Vikings, who ran a fake punt, were stopped by Idaho State’s special teams. Eight plays later, the Bengals scored on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Doug Baughman to Brett Fowler. The score was 24-21 at the end of the third quarter.
“When Joe had a chance to step it up, he did,” Whitehead said.
Portland State’s running game featured not one but two backs over 100 yards rushing. Ryan Fuqua had 24 carries for 107 yards and was bothered by the same banged-up ankle from a week ago. Second string back Joe Rubin filled in nicely with 26 carries and 108 yards, leading the way on the last drive of the game. Wood completed 11-26 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
Linebackers Kevin Haston and Marcus Green had 10 tackles apiece for the defense. Free safety Brent Donnerberg had two pass break-ups, eight tackles and one fumble recovery to lead a strong secondary. Jamal Abdullah made 10 tackles, a forced fumble and a pass break-up in the first half alone.
Next week, the Vikings take on Weber State in Utah. Weber stands at 2-6, 0-5 on the year. The Vikings hope to take care of business at Weber State and finish up in Montana against Montana State the following week.