Rollin’ the dice

After 154 highly complicated plays were executed and coaches barked out tongue-twisting, brain-teasing formations time and time again, the Vikings’ match up with Northern Arizona was reduced to a simple decision: go or kick.

After 154 highly complicated plays were executed and coaches barked out tongue-twisting, brain-teasing formations time and time again, the Vikings’ match up with Northern Arizona was reduced to a simple decision: go or kick.

Portland State head coach Jerry Glanville chose the risky option Saturday afternoon, insisting on a two-point conversion with just six seconds remaining in the game.

On the conversion play, senior quarterback Brian White took the snap, rolled right and tossed the ball into heavy traffic. The pass was intended for sophomore Matt Smith, but it landed behind the wide receiver, falling to the ground much to the dismay of the 9, 291 fans scattered throughout PGE Park, who each realized the Vikings had fallen short 43-44.

“I never said I wouldn’t roll the dice,” Glanville said. “I had decided with three minutes left that we were going for two no matter what.”

Even before the Vikings’ 12-play, 78-yard drive in the fourth quarter that ended with a one-yard touchdown pass to senior Olaniyi Sobomehin and brought the score to 43-44, Glanville knew a two-point conversion was coming.

Citing inconsistencies with the long snapping, as one snap sailed over junior punter Danny Urrego’s head and another was off target on a field goal attempt, Glanville said kicking an extra point could lead to more snapping problems.

The loss drops Portland State to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in Big Sky Conference contests. With Montana barely squeaking by Eastern Washington on a last-second field goal and Montana State defeating Southern Utah in a defensive battle, the Vikings’ unsuccessful two-point conversion is of huge importance.

Portland State now sits in fourth place in the conference standings, behind Montana, Montana State and Northern Arizona. In early November, the Vikings will face off with the two Montana schools in successive weeks, two games likely to decide the conference championship.

“We still have plenty of weeks left,” said senior middle linebacker Jordan Senn. “And there could really be an upset at anytime in this conference.”

Senn made another observation when he stepped into the Vikings’ locker room following the heartbreaking loss.

“The locker room was nice and quiet,” Senn said. “There are lots of people thinking about that one play when they made a mistake.”

Portland State’s mistakes came in bunches. The Vikings committed nine penalties for 110 yards, including two costly fair-catch interference infractions on punts. White threw for 442 yards and four touchdowns but misfired on three throws that resulted in interceptions.

Missed tackles were also the special of the day, as the Portland State defense was unable to wrap up Northern Arizona sophomore running backs Lionel Scott and Alex Henderson, as well as elusive junior quarterback Lance Kriesien, in multiple open-field situations. Fourth downs were especially frustrating for the Vikings, allowing the Lumberjacks to convert on all three of their attempts.

Senior wide receiver Tremayne Kirkland said the Lumberjacks’ defensive schemes were designed to limit his production late in the game. Despite the attempts to stifle him, Kirkland stepped up to catch five passes for 104 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 38-yard touchdown. Kirkland finished with 14 receptions for 225 yards and four carries for 20 rushing yards.

Following the loss, Kirkland wasn’t harping on the Vikings’ misfortunes and was simply looking towards the rest of the season.

“When you have a coach like Glanville, to go for two you’re nothing but proud,” Kirkland said. “We can’t settle for anything less than the playoffs this season.”



Portland State’s winning streak versus Big Sky opponents prior to its loss to the Lumberjacks.


Combined first downs compiled by the Vikings and Lumberjacks Saturday afternoon.


Number of total offensive yards Portland State and Northern Arizona accumulated.


Viking wide receiver Tremayne Kirkland’s total receiving yards.


Average rushing yards per carry for Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks had 296 on the ground against Portland State.


Where Portland State currently sits in the Big Sky Conference following their last-second loss. Montana, Montana State and Northern Arizona are ahead of the Vikings.


The time of possession edge Northern Arizona held in Saturday’s match up, finishing with 35:11 to the Viking’s 24:49.